Foods for the Lenten fast PDF Print E-mail

During Lent, Christians practise fasting from foods as a spiritual preparation to experience deeper communion with God.

Since there is a body and soul connection, some people see fasting with the right diet and spiritual discipline as elements that complement each other to take them through the 40 days of fasting. Lessons from Jesus, the Apostles, Saints and church elders demonstrate that when you fast and pray, you become more sensitive to God's presence.


Fasting with a willing spirit, and not just with an attitude of fulfilling a religious obligation, means that you keep the purpose of fasting always before you. The purpose is to develop self-control and to remember God and His Kingdom. To effectively carry out the fast, it is critical to look at the way you fast and how much you eat.


Eat modestly


Simply put, fasting is the simplicity of eating. You should not gormandise to the extent that your stomach becomes overloaded and you feel uncomfortable. The essence of fasting is self-control, so that if you experience some hunger during the day, it should remind you of God, your dependence on Him and of his promise in John 6: 27 to give you "food that lasts for eternal life". (


Restricted foods


What foods should you eat and drink during the Lenten fast? It is important to read labels carefully to see what products you are consuming. During the Lenten fast, none of the following foods should be eaten on weekdays:


Meat and meat products (beef, pork, chicken, etc., as well as products with beef gelatin or lard used in some commercial baked products).


Dairy products (butter, milk, cheese as well as items containing dairy whey and milk extracts).


Fish (include fish with backbones, like sardines, bass, trout, and shark but not shellfish such as lobster, shrimp, oysters and crabs).


Oils (including olive oil), wines and alcoholic beverages.


Fruits and vegetables


Foods that are permitted during the fast include shellfish, fruit, vegetables and vegetable products. On Saturdays and Sundays during the fast, the quantity and frequency of meals is not restricted. In Islam, fasting is stricter during the holy month of Ramadan to the extent that it is forbidden to take even a drop of water. At sunset, the fast is broken by eating dates and other fruits.


Rules for the Lenten Fast


During Lent, you may fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. Do not eat any meat, and eat only one full meal on fast days. You may give up your own sacrifice of certain foods, like 'junk' snacks or desserts.


No food should be eaten between meals, and at mealtimes smaller quantities than normal should be eaten.


Engage in a new spiritual practice during Lent to strengthen your spiritual life. You may go to mass more often, or read a spiritual book or your Bible throughout the day.


Get support from a friend or family member so you can stick it out together to resist the temptation to break your Lenten promise.


If you feel some hunger during the fast, take time to pray for the starving people around the world, and even in your community. Think of fasting as a gift to God. (



Fasts have given rise to a whole new cuisine, using items like peanuts and potatoes

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Heather Little-White, PhD, Contributor to the Jamaica Gleaner



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