Fasting without vanity


Hi. For a long time I wanted to fast, and do sometimes, for spiritual reasons. For someone in particular, and other reasons to be closer to God.
The problem I’m having is that every time I want to dedicate a day or afternoon of a fast, my mind immediately sees a weight loss benefit. (I’m not obese, it’s not a health issue)I struggle with weight but, as crazy as this sounds I don’t even know if I can properly judge my own intention. I know I want to fast for xyz, certainly do. But, the fact that a part of me is glad that it will also make me lose weight stops me dead in my tracks. I feel I can’t fast at all because of the vain side benefit that my mind (not heart) acknowledges too often. I wonder if the enemy knowing my intention plants that block there. I am fearful my appreciation of the side benefit will pop up in my head the day of the fast and what should I say to myself when that happens.
Thank you.


Fasting doesn’t have to be from food, or at least totally. I have a similar issue, so I sometimes won’t put cream and sugar in my tea, or maybe I’ll skip desert or not eat meat at lunch. And when I do, I say something like “Lord, I would really like to do more but I can’t always trust my own intentions so take this little sacrifice.” I’d also try to talk to a good confessor, spiritual director or someone you trust and know is devout and faithful and maybe more developed, so to say, in their interior life. It’s a grace to even have the realization your intentions may not be pure, so be sure to thank God for it :slight_smile:


Since you cannot avoid losing weight, consider desiring to be hungry as Jesus was hungry. Look at it from the hunger aspect, not from the weight loss side.


Regular fasting is not going to make you lose weight. Your body simply adjusts to doing more with less food and also likely will make you want to eat more when you stop the fast.

So you can stop looking forward to this “benefit” that is going to be either short-lived at best, or nonexistent at worst.

Speaking as someone who abused their body through not eating for some years when young in order to stay at a lower weight, and suffered the consequences of an affected metabolism as a result, this is one reason why I am not big on fasting as a sacrifice. It is too easily emotionalized into something other than an offering to God. Furthermore, many of the so-called “fasts” where you eat bread all day (the Elizabeth Kindelmann fast) or bread and soup (this one is popular for “fasting” events at my parishes, the idea I guess is to eat like a homeless person for a day) are not much of a fast for those of us who are already accustomed to missing meals or not eating much due to weight issues or lifestyle. Bread and soup is a normal meal for me, and I like it. When I have done the Kindelmann fast I have had to purposely go out and buy a type of crispbread that I don’t like very much in order for it to be any sort of sacrifice at all.

I’d say to find another way to be closer to God that doesn’t involve going without food.


Thanks, I’ve also had similar issues growing up. I don’t look forward to losing weight , I meant even appreciating the side benefits that I’ve gotten in the past from fasting albeit short term is something I don’t want to think about. Someone mentioned fasting on something else, that’s a great idea! One if my favorite saints never seasoned her food, just ate simply for nourishment. I’ll continue prayerfully seeking ways to offer up more for God. Thank you for your input.


This is a great idea, I’m grateful you’ve shared. Thank you. I see myself considering this daily now. St. Therese would not season her food, in fact put bitter herbs on occasion. Definitely food for thought. (Was that a pun? I never said a pun before)


First of all me too. But I do it anyway. :hugs: And I pray my intentions loud in front of God and hope that if the flesh torments me with vanity then may it be that the flesh that speaks what is holy and good intention overcome the offense I bring with my vanity.

I know the Church says so and I never believed it until I started fasting. I usually do not like meat, I eat it because people and doctors say it is unhealthy to not eat meat. And then I prefer fish and poultry. But when I started fasting I started to crave meat. Not just any meat but salami, ham, pork, stuff that I am never naturally attracted to. The thoughts and desires of eating meat just came out of nowhere. So yes it’s the enemy who brings us doubt when we intend to fast and all throughout fasting.
Do it anyway.


Thank you so much, I love your spirit, it’s very inspiring!


We can’t realign ourselves through an act of the will into wanting to do something with pure motives, like flipping a light switch. We just have to go ahead and do it while accepting the fact that our humanity is going to mix our motives, and then daily pray to God for help and to be submissive to his will.

If you wait until you are ready to do something, you’ll never do anything.


Thank you. I appreciate this advice. I do feel like the enemy wants me to hold on to the mindset I mentioned earlier because it’s a subtle way to stop me and it worked. Now, I can focus on staving off my hunger which is very difficult by thinking of Christ being hungry and for the fast intention. And its more appetite than hunger i think. I also like the idea on fasting from other areas that are weak points in my spiritual life. Perhaps starting this Sunday in Advent. Thank you everyone.


Yo can also give up something else, like tv or smartphone use or social media… personally I have had great growth through cold water showers as a form of penance and fasting.


Thank you, I don’t have tv or any social media but I am on my phone alot. The problem is I think giving it up might make me feel great instead of feeling like a sacrifice. I think I may have explained that poorly.


As I said, cold showers can be really useful in this context.


Something I wish I knew a long, long time ago, is that perfectionism and procrastination very often go together. We want everything to be perfect, and since that is never going to happen, we do nothing.


I hate that my floors being washed (been 2 wks) is the first thing that popped in my head after reading this but such a great, insightful and useful post. I will share this with my teenagers. Thank you


Thank you, that is a good idea that actually frightens me because I have low blood pressure I’m almost always cold. Honestly too cold for a shower some winter days, to do this purposely sounds literally like it will be a painful teary experience, but I will try making the water colder. I forgot who it was, but my husband told me of a saint (I think there were 2 that I know of) St. Gemma and someone other blessed saint that went to freezing temperature in water form or some form as either a penitential act or to combat a particular evil.


A day of fasting will not cause a weight loss unless you are dangerously underweight.


Hi. The fast I had in mind was not just for one day but periodically during the week, after a certain hour and one or 2 full days.


Fasting from food has an over 2000-year-long tradition in the Church and is spoken positively of by Jesus Christ. It is never going to go away.

Those with eating disorders or with a history of it are exempt from any obligatory days of fasting.


I’m not sure what your point is in telling me this. I keep obligatory days of fasting, but the “fast” required on obligatory days in the Roman Catholic church is not much of a fast. It is essentially the way I already eat on many days, as I explained. Furthermore the RC church in the USA has only 2 fast days out of the entire year. 2 days is unlikely to be a problem for anyone especially when the fast is certainly not extreme.

Fasting indeed is a 2000-year-old practice and to some degree has its roots in practical issues of conserving scarce food in times when people were much more dependent on the seasons/ agricultural cycle in order to have something to eat than they are today. I am not asking for it to “go away” but simply pointing out that for young women who are prone to emotionalize their eating, in these modern times where we do not worry about using up all the community’s food before spring, it may be better to select some other type of penance when the selection of a penance is voluntary, not obligatory. As someone else mentioned, a “fast” from the Internet, television, or some other “licit and pleasing” activity works just as well. Obviously 2000 years ago people did not have the Internet or the TV to fast from, and many people probably didn’t have any pleasures in their life at all other than eating, so options for penances may have been more limited.

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