Hi! It’s been about 6 months since I wrote this post, and a few things have shifted for me since then. Enjoy the Updates!
Oh friends, I am wary on writing this. Not because I’m worried about over-sharing (yeah, I’ve been blogging for 12 years now – I’m good with sharing), but because what I do when I plan my eating around the Liturgical calendar isn’t necessarily what others might do. The idea is to mindfully make it meaningful FOR YOU, and we are all different with different relationships to foods and traditions and health needs and…
…still, more than a few people have strongly hinted it would be helpful, and so with a huge disclaimer, I am happy to share my current Eating Liturgically plan.
Feast Days – Major – Nothing is off limits all day long, but I must be hungry and it must taste delicious. If the Day is to honor a Saint or an event in Jesus’ life, I try to make food that is either traditionally made on that Feast Day, or evocative of it in some way.
Fun fact – while the rest of my family doesn’t technically follow my eating plan, I’ve noticed when I am Feasting, everyone kind of joins in. “I’m having another piece of chocolate because its’ a Sunday!” my 6-year old will declare. “Can I make you a cocktail?” my husband offers. It’s fun.
What should you do? Whatever means FEAST to you!
Feast Days – Minor/Personal – I follow my FIerce eating plan, but will make one treat (like a cake) or one meal in honor of the day. For example, on St. Lucia I ate Fierce all day, and then had cinnamon rolls with my kids as we lit candles. A small feast. A mini-feast. A feastlette. Exceptions – some minor feast days I still go full Feast-mode all day – my baptism anniversary, for example. it just feels appropriate.
What should you do? However you want to honor this smaller feast day is okay!
Fast Days – I was fasting from 7:30pm the night before to 5:30pm on the Fast Day, eating within the 5:30pm-7:30pm window, and then not eating again until the next day.
Update: this became pretty unhealthy for me personally. Due to Fierce Day disordered eating (see below), to make Fast Days extra Fast-y, I was being so strict, and going so long, that the focus wasn’t on emptiness and prayer but on my willpower and pride.
I now eat Vegan on Fast Days, but eat when I am hungry. Obviously, no sweets, no alcohol, no simple carbs.
What should you do? Approach carefully. Fasting isn’t just not eating. You can pick one thing you don’t eat or drink – no meat, or no caffeine. You can skip one meal. You can eat normally but restrict hours. You can eat normally, but drink a glass of water when you first think of eating again to delay.
If you have a history of disordered eating, please take care of yourself – be mindful of how you work and what you need.
Fierce Days – I was trying to lower my cortisol levels and lose a little weight, and had been doing Intermittent Fasting to good success. This meant I stopped eating at 7:30pm and didn’t eat again until 11:30am – it’s called a 16:8 cycle (16 hours not eating, 8 eating).
Update: Unfortunately, that 16:8 cycle became “too easy” – my body adjusted, and I stopped seeing weight loss. Okay, I thought, I’ll fast a little longer. And a little longer. And yet longer. When I was considering not eating again until the number on my scale had gone down (fasting as long as that took) I realized I had moved to a very unhealthy place. I was not trying to fuel myself to do God’s work, I was trying to punish myself until I lost weight.
Now, I eat when I am hungry. I take my “okay foods” list from something called the Game On Diet – it’s a whole thing you can read up on if you’re interested – that has lists of healthy carbs/fruits, veggies, proteins, and fats. On Fierce Days I have a tracker where I try to eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies, at least 2 servings of green veggies (which can count towards the 5), 3 servings of calcium-rich food, and 100 oz of water.
I feel much less stressed, and much healthier now.
Fun note: having this framework was really helpful to me when my doctor suggested I cut out alcohol “most days” in order to get my cortisol levels lower. She said, “will this be a problem, or do you need suggestions?” and i was like “nope, got it.” because I immediately thought “alcohol only on Feast Days, not on Fierce Days”. Easy-peasy.
What should you do? Fierce Days are about eating healthily and fueling your body so you can go out into the world and do the work God has given you to do. It is not about being hungry, it is about not-Feasting. Eat food! Make good choices.
Fragile Days – When I am feeling stressed or sick, I make terrible food choices. I order and eat an entire cheese pizza. I don’t eat all day and then I eat a whole bag of Cheetos. I just can’t be trusted to make good food choices when I’m fragile. SO – when I was feeling Fierce, I researched what the best foods to eat are when you are feeling ill – any of them that I enjoy eating, I put on a list. When I am fragile, that is the list I can eat – no exceptions. The list includes things like bone broth, chicken noodle soup, oranges, kiwi, yogurt…all things I like to eat. I make sure I always have seltzer in the house so I don’t go for soda when I’m sick. I do not let myself have sweets, soda, or alcohol…but simple carbs are okay on Fragile days for me.
What should you do? Know thyself – how are you when you’re stressed or sick? What would you mindfully like to prepare for yourself for these days?
What about when someone gives you food? – As I have been living with this eating plan for a year now, I’ve realized that when someone gives you food, that is a moment of connection, of relationship, and it is important. They just said, “take, eat”, and I don’t think it’s loving or Christian to then say “I’m sorry, I don’t eat sweets on Thursdays unless it’s a Feast Day.”
So – I take it, and say thank you, and often say I’m saving it for later. I either save it for a Feast, or give it to someone else in my family. If saving for later isn’t an option…I say thank you, and I eat it. Life’s too short to refuse connection and relationship.
If I can say “no thanks” in a socially acceptable way (example – at a party and someone offers me a drink. I say “no thanks, can I have some water?”), that is of course okay. Just…acknowledge the person, the moment. To me, it is sacred.