On Feasting & Fasting

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Over Christmas break I bought Shauna Niequist's newest book, Bread and Wine, and I couldn't put it down.  She paints such vivid pictures with her words and the recipes that accompany her stories are fantastic. (I've already made two of them!)  There was one chapter of the book that really stood out to me; it was the chapter about feasting and fasting.

Let me tell you a little something about myself.  I am severely lacking in discipline; especially when it comes to food.  I've done attempted fasts before and they typically end in failure.  I tried to go on a diet once and was eating out of a tub of ice cream within three days.  Whenever I resolve to give up some food item for lent I usually find some good, (and holy!) excuse to ditch the effort within a couple of weeks ("When I don't have coffee I'm mean to people... God surely doesn't want me being mean to people.")  I love food.  And I hate being told I'm not allowed to do something, even I'm the one telling myself that.

But after all of the feasting that occurred over Thanksgiving and Christmas I noticed that my body was feeling particularly sluggish.  My pants were feeling snug and I had grown accustomed to being able to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.  In no uncertain terms, I was living a life of gluttony.

So I found myself both inspired and also a bit relieved when I read through Shauna's times of feasting and fasting.  She explained how, after every season of "feasting" (namely Summer & the holidays) she partakes in a time of "fasting" during which she excludes soy, gluten, dairy, and added sugar from her diet.  It's not solely for health or weight loss; it's also a time to realign appetites and to get out of the habit of having exactly what you want exactly when you want it.

It sounded like precisely what I needed after a long (and emotional) season of feasting.  I think it's important to feast; to take part in a bounty and to celebrate and smell and taste and not even think about counting calories.  But I also think it's important to practice times of fasting; of obedience and self-control (and a whole host of other virtues I'm lacking in these days.)

So! Two weeks.  Ty (he opted to join me... whadda guy!) and I are omitting gluten, dairy, soy, and added sugars from our diets.  We are almost through week one and, though there are certainly more restrictive diets out there, I must admit it's been a struggle for us.  But struggle is good.  Those are the times you grow, right? (And in this case, maybe shrink a bit, too.)

Have you ever gone on a fast before? What was your experience with it?

10 comments

  1. i was excited to read her book before i read this post, but i'm now i'm looking forward to cracking it open even more. i would have to agree that life has seasons of bounty and feasting and enjoying food and friends and company as well as seasons of simplifying and paring down and spending time in quiet and solitude and-gasp-fasting. the latter season is always a bit difficult but so worth it in the end. and i like what you said about growing/shrinking. ;-) week one down, one more to go. go get em!

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  2. I completely understand being unable to diet. I love my food! But I really like the idea of following a period of feasting with a period of fasting. And when you're doing a fast like that you really have to depend on God to get you through. I'm so impressed you've already made it through week one! Good luck!

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    1. Jenny, it's so true! I've definitely had to rely on God for discipline... (especially last night when a big glorious berry cobbler was staring at me during our home group.) Thanks for your sweet encouragement!

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  3. I love this! I have been wanting to read that book so badly!

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  4. my husband & i definitely feasted over the holidays & actually started whole30 today - which is pretty close to what you're doing! :) i love this reasoning & hope that through this struggle we can draw closer to the Lord!

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    1. That is SO impressive, Robyn! I've heard great things about whole30, but I don't know how I'd get by without quinoa... ha! Perhaps once we power through this one we will give whole30 a shot. Best of luck to you and your husband!

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  5. That is how I am with food too. Almost 30, I am now seeing the effects of that...whoops. My struggle now is that Tom has to eat like 6 meals a day to keep up with the Army life style, so I end up eating most meals (or an unhealthy snack) with him. I have head a lot of great things about this book, so I may have to check that out!

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    1. I can relate! When we got married Ty was a freshly retired college athlete and he ate SO much! I always felt so inadequate when I would cook dinner and then he'd go in for a post-dinner bowl of cereal to make up for dinner just not being calorie-dense enough for him! Haha. It's taken a lot for me to learn that I don't have to go in for that post-meal snack, too.

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