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Author Topic: Would like to convert but worried about fasting  (Read 1053 times) Average Rating: 0
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ElizabethanElizabeth
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« on: April 09, 2011, 11:10:54 AM »

Converting would be a long time from now, but I would like to begin the fasting soon so I can get an idea of how it will really be.

I have allergies (peanuts, soy, hazel nuts, peas [I basically stay away from most legumes and all nuts]) and I worry on the fasting days and on Lent I won't get the right nutrition. I can't consume nuts or legumes, so I wonder how I'll get the bulk of my protein without eggs, dairy, and meats. I also am not a big fan of fish, though I am not against trying it. I really don't like shellfish though. I am also worried that the bulk of my proteins would be coming from carbs, and that might not be too good in the long run.

So far for meals, all I can think of is oatmeal, vegan banana bread, bagels, vegetables, fruits, etc. That seems like a lot of carbs since I can't supplement with nuts and legumes.

Any advice?

Thanks Smiley
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Andrew Crook
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« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2011, 11:19:36 AM »

Hi Elizabeth,

  Welcome to the forum!  Grin The best advice I could give you, would be to explain this to your priest.  He can give you the best advice as towards how to go about fasting. Also, if there are any medical reasons why you can not follow a strict fast then that must be given consideration as well.  On the same note, one must consider the verse  "Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the Mouth of God".. 

I think He would take care of us, no matter what befalls us during our fasting journey..
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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2011, 11:20:08 AM »

Your priest will work with you on that.  I can't do legumes or beans either (they will literally make me vomit).  Some priests may let you eat fish or dairy, whichever is needed.  I know that for me not getting enough protein triggers my depression and can send me into a deep depression.  When you talk to your priest, let him know that you can't eat legumes due to food allergies and he can modify the fast for you if needed.  
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ElizabethanElizabeth
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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2011, 11:23:21 AM »

Hi Elizabeth,

  Welcome to the forum!  Grin The best advice I could give you, would be to explain this to your priest.  He can give you the best advice as towards how to go about fasting. Also, if there are any medical reasons why you can not follow a strict fast then that must be given consideration as well.  On the same note, one must consider the verse  "Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the Mouth of God".. 

I think He would take care of us, no matter what befalls us during our fasting journey..

Thank you for the quick reply and thank you for welcoming me! I realized after I posted how rude I must seem not to have introduced myself.  Embarrassed

Thanks for the advice as well.
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ElizabethanElizabeth
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2011, 11:25:47 AM »

Your priest will work with you on that.  I can't do legumes or beans either (they will literally make me vomit).  Some priests may let you eat fish or dairy, whichever is needed.  I know that for me not getting enough protein triggers my depression and can send me into a deep depression.  When you talk to your priest, let him know that you can't eat legumes due to food allergies and he can modify the fast for you if needed.  

Thanks for the advice!

For me, not getting enough protein causes immense hunger pangs that cause me to vomit.

I understand that may be considered a medical reason not to strictly adhere to the fast, but I didn't want to seem like I was already trying to make something easier for myself. I'll definitely talk to the priest.
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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2011, 11:28:05 AM »

Converting would be a long time from now, but I would like to begin the fasting soon so I can get an idea of how it will really be.

I have allergies (peanuts, soy, hazel nuts, peas [I basically stay away from most legumes and all nuts]) and I worry on the fasting days and on Lent I won't get the right nutrition. I can't consume nuts or legumes, so I wonder how I'll get the bulk of my protein without eggs, dairy, and meats. I also am not a big fan of fish, though I am not against trying it. I really don't like shellfish though. I am also worried that the bulk of my proteins would be coming from carbs, and that might not be too good in the long run.

So far for meals, all I can think of is oatmeal, vegan banana bread, bagels, vegetables, fruits, etc. That seems like a lot of carbs since I can't supplement with nuts and legumes.

Any advice? i

Thanks Smiley

There are seveal folks on OC.net that normally eat a diet far different than what can be done during a fast. But the first thing you should know is that converts are not required to over extend themselves. Your Priest will guide you into a fasting regime that will take all of your concerns into account and work out a plan for you.

Specifically, you can add coconut products to your fasting regime. They are rich in mid-chain fats and will help you to stay well. There is also a product called "Quorm". It's a type of mushroom but you would never notice. They make them into faux chicken patties and nuggets etc. Very high in protein and better than the usual Soy based stuff.

Fasting includes many things past what you do or dont eat. Increase prayer, stay away from conflicts, stay chaste if you can, give alms to the poor.  
« Last Edit: April 09, 2011, 11:33:30 AM by Marc1152 » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2011, 12:08:36 PM »

A couple of thoughts, although with the ever-present AYP (ask your priest) caveat.

I have a friend who is allergic to nuts and eggs/dairy. Her priest has adjusted her fast to include chicken (very plainly prepared). I'm not saying that to say that's what you ought to do, but to show that working with a priest is valuable and they might have ideas for adjusting.

The other thought was that if you try to implement the Wednesday and Friday fasts first, for now, that is just one day at a time (and two days a week) without a big protein "hit". That's much more manageable than a two week or 40 day fast.

Again, these are just the thoughts that popped into my head. Talk with a priest if you can!
« Last Edit: April 09, 2011, 12:26:19 PM by Thankful » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2011, 12:08:53 PM »


Fasting includes many things past what you do or dont eat. Increase prayer, stay away from conflicts, stay chaste if you can, give alms to the poor.  

Which are far more important in the first place.  Many passages in the Scriptures tell us we will be judged on our mercy toward others.  I have not found a single New Testament passage that says we will go to Hell if we have a piece of bacon during the Fast.

BTW - I converted 16 years ago, and fasting is my biggest obstacle to being the stereotypical outwardly pious Orthodox gentleman.  Somehow, I have managed to fool some people.  However, I can tell you that I am far more ashamed of my foul language, quick temper and eye for boobies than I am that I ate some turkey and cheese with my salad last week (and jalapeno stuffed olives, too).  Your priest will administer the appropriate economy for your medical conditions, with some jurisdictions being more generous than others.  Don't worry about it.  And don't let fasting keep you from finding the True Faith and becoming part of the Body of Christ.  It is a process, and one day (perhaps after God has cleansed me of some of my more major faults), I may just learn to enjoy tofu and "chicken" made out of mushrooms.
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« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2011, 12:09:31 PM »

I agree with the others.  Speak with your priest.  The priests I have heard always emphsize that they assign fasting in a "pastoral" way.  My priest once gave the example of a leader of a new monastic community who was being criticized because he allowed his monks to eat fish during fasting days.  He told the critic, "Imagine taking a bow and pulling the string."  The critic replied, "O. K"  The leader than said, "Now pull it back further," and continued to repeat it until the critic said, "What a minute, the bow will break."  The leader said, "Exactly! Neither do I want to break my people."
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« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2011, 12:57:14 PM »

I have allergies (peanuts, soy, hazel nuts, peas [I basically stay away from most legumes and all nuts])
Does that include lentils? They're an excellent source of protein, famous for keeping the Roman army fed in some parts of the empire.

You could also make seitan (no, not satan  Wink ) which is a whole wheat-based protein substitute for tofu.

Just a couple ideas!
« Last Edit: April 09, 2011, 12:57:26 PM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2011, 02:10:11 PM »

The canons themselves make it quite clear that one is not expected to fast beyond one's physical ability. The details of that should be discussed with your priest (and perhaps also your doctor), but your inability to keep a strict fast should not be a cause of distress or anxiety.
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ElizabethanElizabeth
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« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2011, 06:46:05 PM »

Thanks, I appreciate everyone's thoughts.

I'm not too sure about the lentils but I really don't know if I want to test it out. Not a fun time, lol.

I'll speak with the priest tomorrow, thanks!
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« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2011, 08:27:53 PM »

I know this has been answered, but just in case this helps you feel comfortable with knowing how common these problems are:

-I know a monk who is diabetic and has had a stroke. He has to eat and drink in the morning before the Liturgy, cannot fast until a certain hour, and while largely vegetarian, always eats meat if needed.

-I am a convert. My priest worked me up to fasting very gradually. After the better part of a decade I still don't fast nearly everything yet. I also have some food allergies. If I had tried to do everything right away there is no way I could have. But by doing just a little bit, and gradually finding ways to make it work, things to eat, and just getting used to it it seems a lot less daunting.

-Fasting is meant as a spiritual medicine and a means to help us repent and draw neared to God. As such it should never be a hinderance to someone joining the Church. Your priest can prescribe you the appropriate spiritual medication for your spiritual and physical condition, so long as you're open about what you can do and not afraid do say if you can't do something. Sometimes you may be pushed, but you should never be pushed too far.
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« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2011, 01:19:17 AM »

You've received a lot of great advice.  Just talk to your priest.  There is much mercy and leeway in fasting, we aren't meant to torture ourselves.  My husband cannot go more than a couple of days without some animal protein or he begins to feel quite weak and sick and just can't make it.  He has a blessing to eat fish and eggs during the fasts when he feels the need.

I have been Orthodox for 12 years this Holy Saturday, and fasting is still a struggle.  For the first few years, I was either pregnant and/or nursing, and fasting during those is not required, so I didn't.  The first Lent when I didn't have that "excuse" was quite difficult (I barely made it through the first week).  I take it one day at a time, pray a lot, and as others said, there are parts of my life that need WAY more attention than the food I put in my mouth, and I concentrate on those also.  Blessings to you in your journey.
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« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2011, 02:24:19 AM »

First protein is overrated. As is much of the nutritional advice pandered around contemporary self-involved health culture.

Eat less at first of whatever you eat. Fasting to eat less. The foods you give up can be discussed with a priest. People live rather well with extremely poor diets for long periods of time (and no one on this board is probably eating petroleum jelly sandwiches). We ain't as fragile as the food "health" industry would like to make us believe.

Talk with your doc (an MD) about your allergies. And again just start with less. Go a little hungry no matter what you eat.

But really don't sweat the protein thing. It's only a few weeks here and there throughout the year. NBD.

And there are a lot of affluent "health" obsessed folks here who will help you, if you want to take their advice, but remember Orthodoxy flourished without all these exotic fixes. And people had allergies in those times as well, no matter what the hawkers of the dangers of the modern Western diet will tell you.

I have to question the notion of a fast which brings together foods from nearly every continent of the globe with reasons for the nutritional "advantages" complete with higher energy costs in shipment, purchase etc.

Nothing wrong with a diet high in carbs in fact there is a lot of right about it, unless you have a real medical condition regarding blood sugar.

Best of luck. Take it slow if you have to. Just eat a little less.

Welcome.

« Last Edit: April 10, 2011, 02:24:57 AM by orthonorm » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2011, 10:25:05 AM »

You've received a lot of excellent advice. I would only add that you might also want to consult a dietician, as well. My husband is diabetic and discussed the fasting guidelines with a dietician to help him understand what his best choices would be.
An important thing to remember is what fasting really is. Although we often think of the Lenten fast, for example, in terms of food, it is, first and foremost, a fast from sin and self-indulgence. Abstinence from food is only a symbol of our true fast from sin and selfishness. Because fasting does not mean “giving up” certain foods, as a penance or to punish ourselves.
Any type of abstinence is a spiritual effort. Each time we tell ourselves "No," we become stronger, and each time we give in, we become weaker spiritually. So during Lent we give special emphasis to practicing self-restraint - not just in what we eat, but in all our life.
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« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2011, 10:36:52 AM »

In addition to the practical advice on what foods you can eat during the fast with your particular issues, which advice is important, it is also very important to understand that the grace of God that is present in the Mysteries of the Church enable a person to do within the Church what would be impossible outside of the Church.  For anyone interested in Orthodoxy who might think, "Oh, I don't think I could do that," with regard to one aspect of Orthodoxy or another, it is important to realize that all of our efforts are useless and come to nothing if they lack the assitance and help of God.  In the Church, God assists man through grace-filled and deifying mysteries so that man can attain with the help of God that which is impossible without God.  It is always helpful to remember that while for man much is impossible, with God nothing is impossible.
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