It's fast season! Whether you're just giving up sweets for Lent or are going on a full-blown, hyper-strict diet for a few weeks, extreme changes in eating habits can be hard to make overnight and even harder to maintain when the cravings hit. Since I've been an annual faster for the last six years now, I figured I'd share all my best tips and tricks for how to survive your fast (and have fun doing it)!

Start Slow

Rebecca Buechler

Let's say you're giving up caffeine for Lent, or you're on the Daniel Fast (like me) and the only beverage you can drink for 21 days is water. Rough. I'm telling you right now, do not try to quit coffee cold turkey! A week before you need to give it up, switch to tea! If you wean yourself off slowly, the transition will be infinitely less painful, physically and emotionally.

Stick To The Basics!

spaghetti, pasta, macaroni
Alex Frank

This is a big one. When shopping for a fast, the best thing to be is basic (bet you've never heard that before). Plain pastas, oatmeal, soups, etc. are really quick to make and easy to spice up with some herbs, veggies, or flavorings. Focusing heavily on some tried-and-true basics will save you money, too!

In fact, here's a great article on a few ways to turn your oatmeal from sad to rad and crush that fast-friendly breakfast scene. Who knows, maybe you won't even miss having bacon in the morning (disclaimer: you might still miss bacon).

Spice It Up

herb, condiment, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, relish, curry, chili
Hannah Linn

The best tip I can give you is this: USE SPICES! USE HERBS! USE NATURE'S FLAVORS! Got a bland tomato sauce? Throw in some paprika! Does your soup feel a little soulless? Spice that bad boy right up with some garlic powder. Did those oatmeal hacks not quite do the job? Add some cinnamon for pure breakfast perfection. Don't let any of your meals be boring when there are so many flavors in the world just waiting to be discovered by you and your potentially deprived taste buds.

Get Creative

candy, sweet, strawberry, ice, cream, ice cream, sorbet
Kristine Mahan

No, this picture is not clickbait! Chances are, you can't have ice cream during a fast. You probably can't have a lot of things, so use your imagination! Freeze some banana slices and blend them up to make your very own banana ice cream! Make wraps/tortillas out of whole wheat flour and water, and then use them for fruit and peanut butter breakfast wraps, or even burritos for dinner!

Can't have meat? No problem! Cook up some textured vegetable protein (TVP) in a tomato sauce as an amazing (and cheap) ground-beef alternative. Don't get weighed down by the limits of your fast, and take this as an opportunity to try some new things.

Keep Victory In Sight

Taylor Kozloski

This might sound a little backwards, but thinking about all the great things I'll get to eat when my fast is over helps me stay sane. If you've been craving fries, look forward to them! Honestly, I've been dreaming about iced lattes for the last three weeks. But hey, nothing will make you power through a fast quite as intensely as a hardcore craving. Fantasizing about treats and sweets gives you something to look forward to. You'll have something yummy to reward yourself with at the end of the finish line - so get excited.

So there you have it, Amanda's declassified fast survival guide. Making the decision to give up something (or many somethings) around this time of year shouldn't just be about surviving, it should be about thriving! Use all your resources, including your imagination, and be willing to try some new things. Whether or not you make a yearly tradition of it, get ready to feel like a triumphant food boss the second you get to break that fast. You earned it!