Author Topic: Health and fasting in Orthodox tradition (+ thoughts about meat)  (Read 723 times)

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Offline Marius

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Not sure if this is the right place for this as I want to tallk about my fasting experiences and my health/eating choices. I apologize to the moderator if wrong section.
Before last year I always did the Christmas and Easter fast in full; not eating any animal products and going full vegan. Yet the experience was never as I imagined it... I felt horrible, I was angry and hungry and I would always put an extra 5 kg... If my mother changed the seasoning on my cabbage I would go ballistic... I always felt that it was my character what was solely to blame (Still believe this but not anymore that it is solely to blame).
My weight was out of control.... So one year ago a bunch of situation led me to make a change. My cousin who is vegan for 3 years gave me an expensive present of vegan powders and books. I felt offended, I thought to myself I will not go vegan or any diet before doing research. And for a month I indulged in junk food and devoured nutrition information.
After one month I decided to go on a one meal a day (2000+ calories) only meat diet; I lost 30 kg in 6 months; I have muscle gain, I have energy, my blood work is great, My skin is clean and I actually look my age...
Yet as happy as I was... I was also confused and worried... Christmas fast was coming... I can not eat any vegetables anymore as they will reck my gut....
I started contemplating about what is a fast from an nutritional and religious perspective; I relised my previous fasts included tons of sugar and refined grains... this kind of foods were not available to the world in such abundance 100 years ago. A monk or a simple peasant doing the Easter fast would not have had access to sugar at all and very little white/ high refined carbs; he would have eat leafy greens.

I also realised that meat is good for our health !!! It has all the vitamins and nutrients we need. The question I have than is what is than the purpose of a fast?

Then I discovered something interesting; This doctor, Jason Fung, is treating obesity and diabetics with 20 days of black fasting (no food at all)... Fasting, meaning eat nothing at all, is health !! it resets the body and starts autofagy, the processes discovered a few years ago that basically is a self repair mechanism of the body. I started doing black fasting, my max is 72 hours without food. This time around I felt liberated... I was calm and meditative once food was out of the equation.

I come to believe that the Church Fathers did not actually did fasts because they considered meat bad... they understood more on the intuitive level the biological self repair processes that happen while not eating for extended periods.



Offline jah777

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Re: Health and fasting in Orthodox tradition (+ thoughts about meat)
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2019, 01:27:33 PM »
This is a complex issue.  Not many Orthodox fast traditionally, taking only one meal per day on strict fast days (no meat, dairy, oil), and that after 3pm.  Of course, absolute fasts are also very beneficial if done properly, but this is probably more rare.  For those avoiding meat, dairy, and oil on strict fast days who feel terrible while doing so, a number of things come into play.  What are you eating instead?  Are the foods eaten nutritionally dense?  Perhaps you are introducing into your diet something that your body doesn't digest well or that you are allergic to?  Perhaps you have removed something unhealthy from your typical diet and your body is going through a time of detox?  Instead of saying, "I feel better when I eat meat and feel terrible when I fast, so I'm just going to eat meat during the fasts" (I know you aren't saying this), it is important to consult with a nutritionist and one's spiritual father.  There are illnesses for which a spiritual father will give a blessing to break the fast in order to spare one's health, but the decision to break the fast should not be made by ourselves.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2019, 01:30:52 PM by jah777 »

Offline Marius

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Re: Health and fasting in Orthodox tradition (+ thoughts about meat)
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2019, 02:28:56 PM »
My point is that for the general public the recomandation is to not eat animal products. Yet this means replacing them with pottentialy much sugar and grains. Sugar is clearly bad. Regarding one meal a day during fasting... You could just have pure sugar in that meal. The point is that when the fast rules for the general public were given by the Church Fathers there was not refined sugars and grains, the bread was high fiber and more vitamin dense, today white bred is no diffrent than cake spunge ( as a nutritionist told me).
Regarding meat... There is this impression that we eliminate meat during fast because it is somehow unhealthy. I strongly think that meat is good. That meat was excluded by the Fathers I think is more because it was the only calorie dense food at that time. And thus what fasting rules thei prescribed to the public was low caloric.

Offline jah777

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Re: Health and fasting in Orthodox tradition (+ thoughts about meat)
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2019, 06:28:47 PM »
There is this impression that we eliminate meat during fast because it is somehow unhealthy. I strongly think that meat is good. That meat was excluded by the Fathers I think is more because it was the only calorie dense food at that time. And thus what fasting rules thei prescribed to the public was low caloric.

The exclusion of meat and animal products during the fasts was not due to health reasons primarily.  Bodily and spiritual health are not mutually exclusive, but rather that which is beneficial spiritually is usually beneficial bodily as well.  Animal products are excluded during fasts in part because they were not consumed in Paradise and the consumption of animal products only occurred by condescension after the Fall.  Also, the Fathers observed the effects of different foods on their disposition and observed that meat and other heavy foods "warmed the blood" and excited the passions.  The purpose of fasting and all of the ascetical practices of the Church is to calm the passions and to establish a prayerful and dispassionate disposition.  I certainly agree that if someone tries to keep the fasts by eating sugar and junk foods, they will not do well.

Offline Tzimis

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Re: Health and fasting in Orthodox tradition (+ thoughts about meat)
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2019, 08:29:50 PM »
I didn't see you mention beans. They are a great substitute for meat and full of protein.  Also shellfish. I know they are pricey though.
There is also a new company called Beyond Meat. I haven't tried it yet but it looks very promising.  They also have a sausage.  I plan on trying it soon. It really looks like the real thing.

The IPO was a few days ago and the stock is up like 200% since then.

Offline Rubricnigel

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Re: Health and fasting in Orthodox tradition (+ thoughts about meat)
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2019, 08:57:00 PM »
Not sure if this is the right place for this as I want to tallk about my fasting experiences and my health/eating choices. I apologize to the moderator if wrong section.
Before last year I always did the Christmas and Easter fast in full; not eating any animal products and going full vegan. Yet the experience was never as I imagined it... I felt horrible, I was angry and hungry and I would always put an extra 5 kg... If my mother changed the seasoning on my cabbage I would go ballistic... I always felt that it was my character what was solely to blame (Still believe this but not anymore that it is solely to blame).
My weight was out of control.... So one year ago a bunch of situation led me to make a change. My cousin who is vegan for 3 years gave me an expensive present of vegan powders and books. I felt offended, I thought to myself I will not go vegan or any diet before doing research. And for a month I indulged in junk food and devoured nutrition information.
After one month I decided to go on a one meal a day (2000+ calories) only meat diet; I lost 30 kg in 6 months; I have muscle gain, I have energy, my blood work is great, My skin is clean and I actually look my age...
Yet as happy as I was... I was also confused and worried... Christmas fast was coming... I can not eat any vegetables anymore as they will reck my gut....
I started contemplating about what is a fast from an nutritional and religious perspective; I relised my previous fasts included tons of sugar and refined grains... this kind of foods were not available to the world in such abundance 100 years ago. A monk or a simple peasant doing the Easter fast would not have had access to sugar at all and very little white/ high refined carbs; he would have eat leafy greens.

I also realised that meat is good for our health !!! It has all the vitamins and nutrients we need. The question I have than is what is than the purpose of a fast?

Then I discovered something interesting; This doctor, Jason Fung, is treating obesity and diabetics with 20 days of black fasting (no food at all)... Fasting, meaning eat nothing at all, is health !! it resets the body and starts autofagy, the processes discovered a few years ago that basically is a self repair mechanism of the body. I started doing black fasting, my max is 72 hours without food. This time around I felt liberated... I was calm and meditative once food was out of the equation.

I come to believe that the Church Fathers did not actually did fasts because they considered meat bad... they understood more on the intuitive level the biological self repair processes that happen while not eating for extended periods.

Is this the Carnivore diet?

https://www.primaledgehealth.com

I saw this guy on Jay Dyers YouTube channel, and i heard of the keto diet, but his was a little different.

I have been really thinking about trying it, i need to lose some weight and i love meat/dairy to much to stop.

Anyway, to your issue. Consult your priest, and im sure you can work something out.  Good luck, God bless

Offline noahzarc1

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Re: Health and fasting in Orthodox tradition (+ thoughts about meat)
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2019, 09:11:27 PM »
Then I discovered something interesting; This doctor, Jason Fung, is treating obesity and diabetics with 20 days of black fasting (no food at all)... Fasting, meaning eat nothing at all, is health !! it resets the body and starts autofagy, the processes discovered a few years ago that basically is a self repair mechanism of the body. I started doing black fasting, my max is 72 hours without food. This time around I felt liberated... I was calm and meditative once food was out of the equation.
Dr. Fung wrote the book, "The Obesity Code." I read the entire book and took on the fasting protocol he advises. (He also notes more than once in there about the fasting of Christians ... I am quite sure he is not, but that's besides the point.) I lost over 40 lbs just learning how to do intermittent fasting and for the first time in my life I was able to go through the entire Lenten fast with the church. Prior to this past lent, I had never probably gone more than 2 days without eating meat. I also have Fung's Complete Guide to Fasting. I highly recommend both of his books.
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: Health and fasting in Orthodox tradition (+ thoughts about meat)
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2020, 01:40:20 PM »
Can I please ask a fasting question? This is the week of the Prodigal Son and the calendar is marked as no fasting for this week including Wednesday and Friday. If you are going to go to communion on Sunday, then should you observe the 2 to 3 day fast that runs Friday Saturday and Sunday morning?
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Offline brlon

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Re: Health and fasting in Orthodox tradition (+ thoughts about meat)
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2020, 03:12:39 PM »
Can I please ask a fasting question? This is the week of the Prodigal Son and the calendar is marked as no fasting for this week including Wednesday and Friday. If you are going to go to communion on Sunday, then should you observe the 2 to 3 day fast that runs Friday Saturday and Sunday morning?
Was not last week fast-free and next week to be fast-free but with meat excluded?

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Re: Health and fasting in Orthodox tradition (+ thoughts about meat)
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2020, 03:53:13 PM »
There is this impression that we eliminate meat during fast because it is somehow unhealthy. I strongly think that meat is good. That meat was excluded by the Fathers I think is more because it was the only calorie dense food at that time. And thus what fasting rules thei prescribed to the public was low caloric.

The exclusion of meat and animal products during the fasts was not due to health reasons primarily.  Bodily and spiritual health are not mutually exclusive, but rather that which is beneficial spiritually is usually beneficial bodily as well.  Animal products are excluded during fasts in part because they were not consumed in Paradise and the consumption of animal products only occurred by condescension after the Fall.  Also, the Fathers observed the effects of different foods on their disposition and observed that meat and other heavy foods "warmed the blood" and excited the passions.  The purpose of fasting and all of the ascetical practices of the Church is to calm the passions and to establish a prayerful and dispassionate disposition.  I certainly agree that if someone tries to keep the fasts by eating sugar and junk foods, they will not do well.

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Offline PorphyriosK

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Re: Health and fasting in Orthodox tradition (+ thoughts about meat)
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2020, 03:55:34 PM »
Can I please ask a fasting question? This is the week of the Prodigal Son and the calendar is marked as no fasting for this week including Wednesday and Friday. If you are going to go to communion on Sunday, then should you observe the 2 to 3 day fast that runs Friday Saturday and Sunday morning?
Was not last week fast-free and next week to be fast-free but with meat excluded?

Meatfare is next Sunday for those of us on the Old Calendar.
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Offline JTLoganville

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Re: Health and fasting in Orthodox tradition (+ thoughts about meat)
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2020, 08:22:25 PM »
Can I please ask a fasting question? This is the week of the Prodigal Son and the calendar is marked as no fasting for this week including Wednesday and Friday. If you are going to go to communion on Sunday, then should you observe the 2 to 3 day fast that runs Friday Saturday and Sunday morning?
Was not last week fast-free and next week to be fast-free but with meat excluded?
Meatfare is next Sunday for those of us on the Old Calendar.

Old Calendar vs. New Calendar becomes irrelevant from the beginning of the Triodion through the Sunday of All Saints'.   We all celebrate Pascha on the same day, the same applies to every feast and Fast associated with Pascha.

Last week (The Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican) was the first week of the Triodion.

It was Fast-free.

This week (The Sunday of the Prodigal) is a "normal" week with Fasting only on Wednesday and Friday.

Next week (The Sunday of the Last Judgment) is Cheesefare Week.   We fast from meat all week but dairy products are permitted every day, including Wednesday and Friday.

Meatfare is next Sunday for those of us on the Old Calendar.
[/quote]
« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 08:26:21 PM by JTLoganville »

Offline rakovsky

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Re: Health and fasting in Orthodox tradition (+ thoughts about meat)
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2020, 11:15:36 PM »
Ok, so if your week is marked nonfasting, and you plan to prepare yourself to go to communion on Sunday, do you fast on Friday?
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Offline JTLoganville

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Re: Health and fasting in Orthodox tradition (+ thoughts about meat)
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2020, 11:50:23 PM »
Ok, so if your week is marked nonfasting, and you plan to prepare yourself to go to communion on Sunday, do you fast on Friday?

Ask your spiritual Father.

It is generally discouraged if not forbidden outright for laity to exceed the normal Fasting disciplines such as adding additional Fasting days in "normal" weeks or continuing to Fast during the weeks of Pascha, Pentecost, Christmas, etc.   The reason is that such additional asceticism may lead to spiritual pride of the sort condemned in the Pharisee of last Sunday's Gospel.

Offline rakovsky

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Re: Health and fasting in Orthodox tradition (+ thoughts about meat)
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2020, 01:00:42 PM »
Ok, Thanks. I was looking for the general OCA practice since I am in the OCA.

Your answer makes sense, but I would have guessed the opposite. For instance, I knew that Sundays are generally not fast days, but nonetheless preparation for communion involves a strict fast on Sunday morning.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2020, 01:02:02 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: Health and fasting in Orthodox tradition (+ thoughts about meat)
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2020, 01:25:27 PM »
St George Greek Church website seems to reject the concept of a Friday-Saturday-Sunday morning preparation fast in the first paragraph below, and then in the second paragraph it seems to say that preparation for communion must involve fasting on Wednesday and Friday and never on Saturday:
Quote
It is not uncommon to hear Orthodox Christians say they are fasting on Wednesday and Friday because they plan to take Communion at Sunday Liturgy. In reality, the practice of Wednesday and Friday fasting has never been purposefully linked to participation in the Eucharist. Orthodox Christians are required to fast on those two days of the week regardless if they are going to take Holy Communion or not. [The Holy Apostles Sixty-Ninth Canon of the Church]. This same Canon requires that fasting be maintained throughout Great Lent also.

Many Orthodox Christians extend the Wednesday and Friday fast to Saturday. They reason that if they fast on Wednesday and Friday in preparation for the Eucharist on Sunday, it does not seem right not to fast on Saturday, the day prior to receiving Communion. However, in so doing, they violate the sixty fourth Canon of the Holy Apostles which specifically forbids ever fasting on Saturday, the day God rested after creation. Exceptions to this Canon - Holy Saturday and a few other major feast days should they fall on a Saturday.
http://www.orthodoxprayer.org/Divine_Liturgy/Holy%20communion-Fasting.html

I thought the three day fast meant three consecutive days, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning.

The OCA Q&A page references the idea of three consecutive days of fasting as a Russian practice:
Quote
4. “You have not been fasting for the past three days.”

In many places, there is a custom of fasting for three days or even a full week prior to the reception of the Eucharist. This is not a universal custom among all Orthodox Christians, and there seems to be a variety of explanations as to why this custom has taken hold in some places. While this is not the custom among perhaps the majority of faithful within the OCA, it is a long-time, ingrained custom elsewhere. What is unfortunate is that generally the focus here is neither on repentance, nor on changing our lives, nor on seeking forgiveness or reconciliation or a common union with God or His People but, rather, on fulfilling a regulation or “obligation” to fast for three days—period.

In Russia, for example, one is likely to find the precise attitudes you have encountered above, even though one of the most revered saints at the present time, Saint John of Kronstadt, was an advocate of frequent Communion—with proper preparation, however.
https://www.oca.org/questions/divineliturgy/communion-questions
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Offline WPM

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Re: Health and fasting in Orthodox tradition (+ thoughts about meat)
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2020, 09:18:41 AM »
It's OK to eat meat except on designated Fasting days. (Example, ham or chicken or steak)
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