Eat, Fast, Feast

Written By Katherine O

Eat, Fast, Feast

Heal Your Body While Feeding Your Soul –

A Christian Guide to Fasting

Author(s): Dr. Jay W. Richards

Publish Date: 2020

Difficulty Level: Easy: Does not require in-depth knowledge of either fasting or Christianity to enjoy

Jesus fasted for forty days and nights before he started his ministry, Joan of Arc and countless saints including St. Catherine of Siena, St. Benedict (unofficial father of OMAD – One Meal A Day), and St. Augustine all fasted. Yet, in most modern Christian churches fasting is a rare occurrence, certainly not practiced regularly every Wednesday and Friday as it would have been 1,000 years ago. Why? Why did most Christians stop fasting?  And, is this ancient practice something the church should consider resurrecting?

Dr. Jay W. Richards explores these interesting questions in his book as well as some of his own journey with fasting and a ketogenic diet. He then lays out a six-week plan for transitioning from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to a multi-day fast, which follows a schedule very similar to that of Lent.

The big takeaways from this book include:

  1. “If most Christians view real fasting as weird, unimportant, legalistic, optional, or even unhealthy, we won’t make it part of our lives, and we will never enjoy the blessings – physical, mental, and spiritual – that it offers. We need a paradigm shift.”
  2. Richards lays out an interesting hypothesis: “When we don’t fast, there’s a spiritual cost. And when we do fast sincerely, we should expect a spiritual benefit.” He goes on to highlight the correlation between the decline in fasting and the weakening of the church and suggest that there may be a causal relationship there.
  3. Vatican II, is not solely responsible for the decline in fasting, though it did play a role in Catholics beginning to eat meat on Fridays (outside of Lent) again and much of the intended fasting message was garbled.
  4. Lays out a six-week step-by-step approach from getting off the standard American diet to intermittent fasting, to lengthening the daily fasts, to a multi-day extended fast.
  5. Why fasting doesn’t (and shouldn’t) have to be so hard. Switching away from the SAD and toward a ketogenic diet can help to make fasting more accessible to many Christians today.

If you’re looking for something a little different, you might enjoy:

    • Life in the Fasting Lane – This book is less science and more tactical. It includes more personal stories from the three authors, Dr. Jason Fung (yup, same author), Megan Ramos PhD, and Eve Mayer. And, may be a better choice for those who want to implement fasting, but care less about hearing detailed studies results.
    • The Hungry Brain – If you enjoyed the science in this book and want to take it to the next level in terms of understanding how our brains are hijacked by our modern environment, this book is a must-read.
    • Pure White and Deadly – Not convinced sugar is that bad for us? Or need a little motivation to get off the stuff? This is a great choice to help take the sweetness out of sugar.

Publisher summary:

The New York Times bestselling author and senior fellow at the Discovery Institute blends science and religion in this thoughtful guide that teaches modern believers how to use the leading wellness trend today—intermittent fasting—as a means of spiritual awakening, adopting the traditions our Christians ancestors practiced for centuries into daily life.

Wellness minded people today are increasingly turning to intermittent fasting to bolster their health. But we aren’t the first people to abstain from eating for a purpose. This routine was a common part of our spiritual ancestors’ lives for 1,500 years.

Jay Richards argues that Christians should recover the fasting lifestyle, not only to improve our bodies, but to bolster our spiritual health as well. In Eat, Fast, Feast, he combines forgotten spiritual wisdom on fasting and feasting with the burgeoning literature on ketogenic diets and fasting for improved physical and mental health. Based on his popular series “Fasting, Body and Soul” in The Stream, Eat, Fast, Feast explores what it means to substitute our hunger for God for our hunger for food, and what both modern science and the ancient monastics can teach us about this practice.

Richards argues that our modern diet—heavy in sugar and refined carbohydrates—locks us into a metabolic trap that makes fasting unfruitful and our feasts devoid of meaning. The good news, he reveals, is that we are beginning to resist the tyranny of processed foods, with millions of people pursuing low carb, ketogenic, paleo, and primal diets. This growing body of experts argue that eating natural fat and fasting is not only safe, but far better than how we eat today.

Richards provides a 40-day plan which combines a long-term “nutritional ketosis” with spiritual disciplines. The plan can be used any time of the year or be adapted to a penitential season on the Christian calendar, such as Advent or Lent.

Synthesizing recent science with ancient wisdom, Eat, Fast, Feast brings together the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of intermittent fasting to help Christians improve their lives and their health, and bring them closer to God.



About the Author

Jay W. Richards, Ph.D., O.P., is a Research Assistant Professor in the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America, a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, and Executive Editor of The Stream. He is author or editor of more than a dozen books including two New York Times bestsellers. His book Money, Greed, and God was a winner of a 2010 Templeton Enterprise Award.


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