Lenten fasting with health issues


I have a stomach condition right now that allows me only to eat small meals, so I eat my “full” meals in segments, about every one to three hours having another item or two. I also have minor blood sugar issues that make me weak, dizzy, and make me feel the need to rest through my entire fast days. I have no problems abstaining from meat, so Friday abstinence is not an issue. Just the two days of fast. Any suggestions?


You are not required to fast or abstain if you have a medical condition that contraindicates fasting or abstaining. Substitue something else, like avoiding a certain kind of food or not using the computer or TV on fasting days.


Health issues are excused from the fast…
But there are alternatives you can do… cut out junk food and treats… add in extra prayers… etc…
You can still maintain your health by eating regularly, just keep the meals simple and more “fast-like”…

HTH! :slight_smile:


This is kind of weird, but how do you know if your medical condition is severe enough to be “exempt”? I’ve fasted every year with the blood sugar problems and had very sick effects from it, but “made it.” This year is the first I’ve had both issues. So, it would be even more difficult, but, I guess I could just sleep through it again. Sounds awful I know, but I start not being able to be upright much around afternoon/evening with lowered food intake. This year I can’t even get that full meal in, so I worry I might be even sicker.

add: I also posted this on ask the apologist so hopefully I’ll receive insight there too. Thanks so much for your replies and suggestions. I have to follow through with much discernment and prayer.


I too have blood sugar issues. Abstaining is still very do-able, I have to eat something every 3-4 hours during the day to keep functioning. So, I eat something that will get me going but not be a yummy thing on those fasting days if I HAVE to eat something “between” my three meals. While I might eat some whole grain bread toasted and spread with fat free creme cheese as an afternoon snack on a regular day, on those two fast days I will have the whole grain bread dry.

For two days out of the year, it is do-able.


Uh… well, the fact that your doctor has instructed you to follow a certain eating plan for starters.

The fact that you fall ill if you do not follow it.

Honestly, talk to your priest, if you are considering suffering through ill effects and negatively impacting your health perhaps you are being overly scrupulous.

Do not fast if it is against medical orders. There is NO obligation for you in this case.


I am unable to fast for similar reasons. I become very ill feeling, faint, clammy, dizzy, etc. when I don’t eat. I try to do my best but eating a little, not nearly what I would normally eat, but I can’t entirely fast according to the norm. :frowning:



Wow, that reminds me of fasting when I was younger. I have the same problems, but nobody knew anything about blood sugar back in the seventies and eighties.

(warning: wrong thinking of youth to follow)
For years, I thought fasting was a form of punishment. You are told it is supposed to clear your focus for god, but it’s so painful and distracting that you can’t actually achieve your goal of completing a single prayer without forgetting the words. It’s kind of like an annual reminder that you never deserve all the good things god gives you, and following him is expressed through suffering. Every year, you are told to “man up”.(/wrong thinking)

Then you learn years later that this form is only for healthy people. Doh!


It wouldn’t hurt to ask a doctor if fasting could cause you harm. (If you arn’t sure if you have a serious enough medical condition.)


“Fasting” also does NOT mean totally going without food! In certain cases, people choose to fast that way, but the official Church definition of fasting for those two days is one regular meal, and two small meals with no snacks. If even that is not doable for you, that’s fine. Just try to do something else that day. Give up TV, or the computer, or sweets. Or maybe drink only water that day. But the Church does not want to make people sick! It’s a spiritual exercise more than a physical one, and there are many ways to accomplish it without bottoming out blood sugar.


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