Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Fasting While Short

A few weeks ago, Bearing wrote a post about the glories of trying to lose weight when short of stature and already calorie restricted because of that fact. There are other special decisions to be made for people who must eat while short.

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days that are hard for short people to figure out. The official fasting guidelines from the USCCB say:
Fasting on these days means we can have only one full, meatless meal.  Some food can be taken at the other regular meal times if necessary, but combined they should be less than a full meal.  Liquids are allowed at any time, but no solid food should be consumed between meals.
That seems pretty straight forward, yet for me, it's not. I am all of five feet, one and three quarter inches tall. My regular eating meals look snacklike to most people. How do you turn a snack into a smaller snack? I'm not really sure.

My regular breakfast is a cup of yogurt with coffee. My fasting breakfast this morning was one egg with coffee. Is that a snack? I don't know how to eat less and still eat something.

My regular lunch these days has been eating stray pieces of lunch meat and cheese with stolen handfuls of goldfish, pretzels, and peanuts. My fasting lunch today was a quarter of a grilled cheese sandwich with water.

This meal is definitely snacklike compared with my regular lunches, but if you combine the grilled cheese with the egg, it is likely more food than the regular cup of yogurt I normally eat for breakfast. Does that break the fast since combined the snack is more than one meal? Who knows. I am hungrier today than usual. Is that a good metric?

I do know that it is difficult to make small meals even smaller and still consume food. I figure I can just put in a good faith effort and not sweat the details about guidelines that were likely written for different people in mind. You know, people who eat adult portions. 


bearing said...

That is worth looking at. There are many links there.

Here's what I do: I eat one meal. The rest of the day I consume just enough caloric liquids to keep me from falling over. Since caloric liquids are NOT RESTRICTED on fast days (click link above, follow link about "fasting and beverages") I refuse to be scrupulous about how much is too much or how long I should go between servings.

It's not like I'm trying to cheat by drinking milkshakes (even though it would be licit to do so!); we're talking coffee with cream; milk; and vegetable broth with some olive oil in it.

mandamum said...

I think this may be similar to the "what about vegetarians" question regarding Friday abstinence, and even more to the "but I have all these food limitations already due to intolerance/allergies, what CAN I eat on Friday?" question. If you're already sort of (or VERY) limited, it probably isn't worth too much brain-space about how to further limit in order to be "doing it right". A woman in the allergy situation said her priest, when asked, told her basically "you're already pretty penitential in your eating, due to the limitations - don't sweat making the general penance fit on top of that." C. S. Lewis mentions the woman who "just wants a small piece of toast"... done EXACTLY right, as an example of gluttony, and Bearing has posted in the past about not giving up foods as general Lenten penitence. If we put too much thought toward "exactly right" I think we may undermine the good done. If the goals of fasting are to remind us that we aren't servants of our bellies, and to offer sufferings in union with Christ's, then a day you feel hungry probably fits the bill, even if you can't translate the USCCB to your usual caloric intake.

(Disclaimer: I am relatively tall, so I'm thinking in more general terms - I defer to Bearing's specifics on this. For me, I haven't fasted for a long-ish while due to limitations of pregnancy/high nursing demand. Kind of weird having these days go by almost-normal in a household with underage kids and a non-Catholic husband....)

(And my toddler has been a royal terror, ever since I voiced thoughts on your either/or post - I'm following the links on your toddler post and thinking hard :) I'll offer a prayer for you and your Marian every time my Bernadette takes something apart or permanently repurposes a valuable family tool or....)

The Sojourner said...

I am the opposite in that I am fairly tall and quite fat so my maintenance level of calories is super high and going below that for fasting is still relatively high. Some of my "snack" meals are probably bigger than other people's big meals!

It's tricky, this fasting stuff.