"Cheating" while fasting/Ash Wednesday

Hi all,

I have just realized that when I fast during Ash Wednesday, I add fat/protein to my small vegetarian meals to avoid that “miserable” feeling.

Example: I had oatmeal this morning, and I added nut (high in fat & protein) to the oatmeal, so I feel comfortable, despite eating very light.

QUESTION: Isn’t the whole point of fasting to have that “miserable” feeling? Is it no longer fasting if I feel the comfort of having a decent meal? Do others here “cheat” as well?

Please share your thoughts, and thank you for your time!

I can’t tell you if it’s no allowed, but then just like wine or beer that are allowed, it would seem like it does not go according to the purpose, that is to make a sacrifice.

You should be hungry when you fast.

Thank you for clarifying. So, I should experience that light-headed, can’t concentrate type of feeling when fasting.

What I have learned to do is to eat very little but keep the food in my stomach, thus avoiding the physical discomfort that comes with lack of food. For me, the physical discomfort, of which the main feature is some “spaciness”, some difficulty in concentration, etc.

I remember reading something about those who can’t fast, for example a guy who works at construction bussiness who need his strenght at 100%, is not needed to fast. but otherwise yes, when you are fasting you are supposed to feel some discomfort, not on dangerous levels, but it is a sacrifice, what do you expect it to be?

For me, no. I shouldn’t experience that light headed feeling.

That light headed feeling is a prelude to me passing out.

Yes, you should feel hungry. No, you should not be so hungry that you can’t function.

I do need to clarify matters here. I am denying myself the psychological pleasures of eating a large meal. However, I am trying to avoid the physical aspect of fasting, the hypoglycemic symptoms, because in my case, I have concentration difficulties, become forgetful, and lose focus. It makes it difficult to perform on the job, and driving more risky.

If I stayed at home, I would probably spend some time in bed, or be a couch potato due to the hypoglycemic state. Even prayer becomes difficult when I can’t focus.

I was just wondering if, by purposefully avoiding hypoglycemia, I wasn’t really fasting, since hypoglycemia is the end result of a short-term fast.

Fasting is supposed to have a spiritual effect on us. The medical and physical effects are neither prescribed nor required by the Church. Similarly, the spiritual effect is not clearly specified and it is a matter of conscience how we “feel” while we are fasting.

In the Latin Church, fasting is defined as one full meal during the day, with two smaller meals that together comprise less than the full meal, and no snacking in between. According to your description, your meal meets the requirements of the fast, with or without the addition of nuts, so you should not feel scrupulous about adding them, if it helps you.

“Feeling hungry” and/or somatic symptoms are not the point of fasting.

The point of fasting is obedience to Christ through His church, and to follow Him in memory of His time in the desert.

If we have the somatic symptoms, that may be a side benefit, in that our somas do penance alongside our psyches, but that is not required.

And after all, we have to use our somas, even on AW. We cannot just put them on the rack all day. So if your functioning requires avoidance of hypoglycemia, then that is OK.


No no no no no no nooooo…the point of fasting is to, among other things, tame our passions. Not to feel miserable. Cheers :smiley:

Elizium23 said what I was hoping someone would put out there : Fasting ain’t really Fasting.
"In the Latin Church, fasting is defined as one full meal during the day, with two smaller meals that together comprise less than the full meal…"

With 3 meals in a Fast Day, it takes out most of the pain.
The main idea of a Fasting Day is to remember that fact.
Then, you can feel like you are doing something REAL for God.
Each time your stomach groans, you get light-headed, your concentration fades in-and-out, your muscles seem heavy … … you can remember that you performing an ancient Ritual.

Of course, some Catholics actually Fast (water and medicines).
I water-Fast each year on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (and a couple of other days).
I ONLY Fast because it does not cause my system much stress.
I am grateful for my body being able to take-it-easy, while I don’t eat.

And, quite a few people eat ONE meal (usually Lunch).
So, by the time you realize that you skipped Breakfast, you can look forward to having a Meal.

All of these ways to conform with the Fasting regulations, are equally valid.
I certainly don’t go around looking like I am Fasting (as this was the Gospel reading for today).

I showered up nicely, and wore fresh clothes, and a Smile on my Face.
I drove over to a local Monastery, and attended their early-morning Mass.
A whole lot of other people had the same idea. Ooh, standing room only … But a Spiritual wonderland.

Spaciness, fatigue, and a lighter head are the normal symptoms a person should have if they’re fasting. That’s what happens if you don’t eat. If you’ve got low blood pressure or something else that makes this a particular problem for you, then just eat some more. Fasting is an exercise of mortification, not a self-inflicted health hazard. This is really something that is left to the discretion of the individual.

An ingrained habit of overeating is a very common problem in the US, so I would be careful in discerning whether or not it’s just extra hard for you because of that reason, or because of some other health concern. If it’s the former, I would personally just live through it as a poignant reminder of one’s weakness. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the only days of fast afterall.

We fast for one hour before Communion (was three hours for a while). Most people can go without food for three hours with zero unpleasant physical side effects. But they are nonetheless really fasting.

To fast means to deny yourself, doesn’t mean you are required to do so to the point where your concentration is seriously impaired, or indeed impaired at all.

Fasting has nothing to do with the type of food you eat. Its about the quantity. The rules are that when fasting on the only two required days (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) you may eat one normal meal plus two small meals that together should not exceed one normal meal.
Of course also on these two days you are required to abstain from eating meat but that is abstinence and not fasting.

I guess i goofed up on Ash Wednesday.

I fasted on bread and water all day.

After mass, I came home and ate some Pizza pockets before going to bed. My reasoning at the time was that after mass, I could break the fast.

Fasting is a personal experience. That’s said and that aside, it is my own personal opinion that fasting to the point of fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, headache or actual physical discomfort is both unsafe and unnecessary – and a bit scrupulous. IMOHO, depriving yourself when you have the insatiable desire to eat something simply because you can’t, as a sacrifice, and offering up that discomfort, is what it is about.

We all know what it’s like to want something when you can’t have it, and wanting it more when you’re not supposed to have it. That desire is what I think we’re offering up. If you’re eating properly (even adding protein/fat) during your meals, there is no reason to get lightheaded or dizzy or forgetful, between meals – while at the same time depriving yourself of a craving. That’s just me. Ya’ll can pass out, if you’re not my patient, I’ll just step over you :smiley:

Miserable can mean different things for different people. Some people don’t like any feeling of hunger, and others have health issues that need to be considered.

I easily become light headed, therefore the meals I eat on Ash Weds and Good Fri may be a bit larger than what other people eat. Passing out wouldn’t help anyone, and it certainly wouldn’t help me feel closer to Christ.

I would imagine most folks can’t function normally if feeling “lightheaded.”

If they can slack off for the day, that would be fine.

But if normal functioning is required, as it usually is, then slacking off on the fasting would be necessary.



The whole point of fasting is NOT to have that “miserable” feeling. Yes it can be miserable but looking at it in and of itself is not the point Huh. Lent is a time to draw to deeper union with Christ. And those feelings/pains we experience we try to unit them with our suffering Lord it should bring us joy. And anything united with His merits is so meritorious and useful for the body of Christ.

Remember the constant battle that goes on. It’s the battle between the body and the soul. In a sense what’s good for the body is bad for the soul and what’s bad for the body is good for the soul. I’ve notice in my own life that there is a real connection between fasting and the lessening of temptations especially sexual. Wounding the body in such a way if you will, makes the body more submissive to spiritual activities. Keeps it in line you might say.

Don’t look at Lent as a time to be “miserable”. Look at it as a time of Love and Joy. We’re saying no to the body so we can say yes to Christ. It’s not sometimes that we have to do more but oftentimes what we already do, make it more thoughtful or give it more attention. When we approach prayer feeling a little hungry or with some self denial attached united with the merits of Christ, you might say we speak a little louder before God. :thumbsup:

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