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Mike Hayes
Our readers asked:

Should I Fast if I Have an Eating Disorder?

Mike Hayes Answers:


Q: 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.

The Author : Mike Hayes
Mike Hayes is the senior editor for the Googling God section at BustedHalo.com.
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  • agnerd

    You can also fast from things like social media, tv, eating out (still eat a nutritious meal at home though!), etc.

  • DeAnne Bonnot Rickabaugh

    God celebrates your good health! If fasting would tempt you back to the dark place you worked so hard to escape, find another way to fast and focus on Him. Maybe fast from TV or radio. Fast from makeup. Fast from the marketplace.
    Congratulations on overcoming such a difficult illness.

  • PWB

    If you have a doctor, you should ask him/her. They could give you some guidance on whether or not you should fast (based on your medical history) and if you should, to what degree.

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