A Lenten Look into Fasting

loveeeHappy Valentine’s Day & Happy Ash Wednesday everyone!

As a Catholic, having these 2 “holidays” fall on the same day has definitely made things interesting. My boyfriend and I decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day yesterday on Fat Tuesday with pizza and a packzis. I also finished off my bag of conversation hearts (my favorite!) before my 40 days of fasting. This morning I went to mass to get my ashes and afterwards had peanut butter and jelly on 2 rice cakes for a meal. See I can have the best of both!

To piggyback Salt’s (Kati) post from last week, let’s talk fasting! To start fasting is defined as a willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. Fasting is done for a variety of reasons. Most individuals are required to fast before a surgery,  some are doing intermittent fasting as a way to lose weight, and many different religions require fasting for holy days throughout the year.

According the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholics (ages 18-59) are obligated to fast 2 days a year: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. In addition,  abstinence from meat is also required on these days as well as all Fridays during the Lent (for Catholics 14 years or older).

Those that are excused from fast and abstinence outside the age limits include the physically or mentally ill including individuals suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes.  Also excluded are pregnant or nursing women.  In all cases, use common sense- no one should jeopardize their health by fasting.

Keeping your meatless meals “simple” during Lent is another important thing the Catholic church believes. While you are allowed to eat fish, going to get a $35 lobster dinner somewhat defeats the point of fasting.  I look for meals that require minimal effort to prepare and are also low in cost. Some simple meatless meals I like include:

  • grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup
  • classic PB&J
  • whole wheat toast topped with eggs (cooked anyway) and sriracha
  • can of tuna mixed with plain greek yogurt, spices along with whole wheat crackers
  • low-sodium canned vegetable or minestrone soup

I also try to attend at least one church fish with friends and family as a way for us to spend time with one another. Many churches now offer baked fish as a healthy alternative to the fried. Usually the proceeds go to help support that church, which is an easy way to give back.

Food is vital for nourishing the body, but restraining from food can be nourishing for the soul. Being physically emptied gives room to be filled with something spiritually greater.

With lots of love and prayer,


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