The CSMV nuns who ran St Mary's School in Pune encouraged us to 'take up' something for Lent instead. I remember sewing a romper suit for a child in their orphanage. It required time and effort on my part and made a material difference to someone's life. Besides which, positive actions are always more satisfying than negative ones.
In previous years I have followed, albeit sporadically, the Love Life Live Lent booklets produced by the Church of England, which encouraged readers to engage in a variety of random acts of kindness etc. I couldn't find any sign of these booklets this year so I turned to Christian Aid, who have an excellent project entitled Count Your Blessings. Every day you are given a statistic relating to world poverty followed by an appropriate action to take. For example, today I have learned that wasted food costs the average family £420 a year. I have then been asked to give 42p for each type of food I bin this week. By the time I reach Easter Sunday I shall not only be more aware of the plight of those less fortunate than myself, but I shall also have a jarful of coins to put towards making our world a better place for everyone.
Old habits die hard though, and I have also pledged to give up biscuits and cakes between meals.