Fasting, as we know, is an ancient spiritual discipline—a basic exercise intended to remind us of our dependence upon God. Throughout the year, the Church calendar instructs us to abstain from certain foods on prescribed days or extended periods as a means of focus. Fasting, however, is much more than the mere elimination of foods for a time; it shouldn’t be undertaken apart from its other spiritual aspects—namely in regard to increases in prayer and almsgiving. And Orthodox Christians of all ages can fast as they are able.

In the webinar “Healthy Fasting: A Practice for All Ages” Rita Madden (MPH, RDN) connects the physical and spiritual elements of fasting for contemporary life by appealing to what the Church has always understood—our physical fast supports godly thoughts, words, and actions. And nutrition doesn’t have to be compromised! With the Christmas Fast approaching, the Church offers an opportunity to redirect us to higher priorities— to embark upon a blessed “journey” with our families and communities toward the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Discussion Points

*As parents, it is especially important to model and discuss fasting in the home for the benefit of children. How do you explain the “why” of fasting to your children? Is this something you’ve talked about with your priest or spiritual father? (Remember, the guidelines of your fast—and that of your children—can be recommended by your priest or spiritual father.)

*A time such as the Christmas Fast can be challenging when many of our neighbors, co-workers, and classmates don’t fast. How do you manage fasting and participation in non-Orthodox get-togethers—especially those that occur before Christmas?   

*As the Christmas Fast begins November 15, can you implement seasonal hymns and readings when your family gathers for prayer? ( How many additional church services can your family attend leading up to Christmas?

*Almsgiving can often be the forgotten component of fasting. The Christmas season is a great time to put our faith into action by remembering those most in need. How can your family commit to acts of charity? Be creative! Be generous! Be loving!


You can find Rita's podcast that reviews the ingredients on food labels here:

List of foods that an average adult body needs per day to attain the required nutrients (Reference: Vitamania Documentary):

  • 1/2 cup raw spinach
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 apple
  • 1 carrot
  • 6 ounces yogurt
  • 1 ounce pecans
  • 1 mango
  • 3 ounces salmon

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