Should I Fast if I Have an Eating Disorder?

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Question: I have a rather odd question regarding fasting during Lent while dealing with an eating disorder. Fasting (not eating) is very easy, yet could do me more harm than good. I want to practice according to the Church’s teaching, yet I want to stay healthy. What are your thoughts?

 

Fasting is a means of self-denial used as a penance for sins throughout the season of Lent. But good health takes precedence over any ecclesiastical law. For this reason the Bishops have noted that those over 60 and those under 14 do not have to fast. Those under the age might miss the point and those over the age are in need of nourishment and place themselves in danger if they begin a fast, especially those not in good health.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops notes:

Those that are excused from fast and abstinence outside the age limits include the physically or mentally ill including individuals suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Also excluded are pregnant or nursing women. In all cases, common sense should prevail, and ill persons should not further jeopardize their health by fasting.

So simply put, use common sense and apply another form of penance instead of fasting like visiting a hospital, or working at a soup kitchen on the days of fasting.

Mike Hayes

Mike Hayes

Mike co-founded BustedHalo.com in 2001. Currently, Mike is the director of campus ministry at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. A frequent speaker on ministering to young adults, Mike is the author of "Googling God: The Religious Landscape of People in Their 20s and 30s" and "Loving Work: A Spiritual Guide to Finding the Work We Love and Bringing Love to the Work We Do."