Part 3: Food, Faith, and Fasting

I just finished Chapter 1 of Rita Madden’s new book, Food Faith, and Fasting: A Sacred Journey to Better Health. As I have mentioned in a previous post, I am reading this book with a study group from church and in preparation for Great Lent in just about 10 more days or so.

Chapter one, entitled, “Sacred Eating,” is divided into six sections with each section divided into a reflection portion as well as ideas on how to implement the concepts easily within one’s own busy, hectic day.

The author points out six ascetical practices within the Orthodox Tradition as including (p. 17):

  • Love
  • Humility
  • Prayer
  • Silence
  • Fasting
  • Self-Control

All six of these practices should be incorporated throughout Great Lent, as well as the rest of the church calendar year. The author does a great job at getting to the heart of the matter in probing, personal questions that she asks throughout chapter one.

  1. Section one she encourages keeping a journal or a blog to stay focused with this journey. So far, I haven’t gotten any feedback on here, but that’s ok. It is a great resource for me to go back and reflect as I take this incredible journey.
  2. Section two she talks about people that are obsessed with eating healthy; this is someone who is so focused on being perfect and being healthy that it becomes an obstacle to the entire journey. The author suggests that this is just as dangerous as eating unhealthy. Some reflection points that I need to work on:
    1. Discontinuing snacking
    2. Eliminating coffee and sugars
    3. Cease obsessing with trying to be healthier and focus my energy on growing in the faith. But default I will become healthier.
  3. Section three deals with honoring mealtime with prayer. The author includes a before and after mealtime prayer. I haven’t really considered doing an after mealtime prayer before, but during Lent, I am going to be starting to incorporate these two small prayers into my daily routines. The following are items that I want to incorporate in to my life:
    1. Copying the mealtime prayers on to index cards to keep at the table or in my purse if we are out to eat.
    2. Saying prayers before and after mealtimes, to include doing this with the Honey Badger when she is eating her food.
  4. Section four deals with having an eating space that is very intentional.
    1. I typically try to always have clutter in my home completely reduced, however, the kitchen table always seems to acquire things throughout the day. Therefore, I want to start eating at the Dining Room table, which gets almost no action currently.
    2. I do keep a candle on the kitchen table for my morning prayers (with a small icon, too). However, lighting a candle for meals makes the meal more intentional with purpose. I really like this idea.
    3. My mom has given me some runners and table cloths over the years that I do use throughout the year in both my kitchen and dining rooms. I also will find some reasonably priced (hand-sewn) table cloths at antique stores. This really gives color and personality to the room. Right now, I have a brown hand-sewn small cloth on the kitchen table and a white and green hand-sewn table cloth for the dining room (I picked the white and green for St. Patrick’s Day).
    4. Currently, I have some fresh flowers in the dining room, but not typically. So maybe I will get a little herb plant and keep that on the table year round (after my spring bouquet gets planted in the ground).
    5. We do not currently have any icons in the dining room. I have asked TBF to help me hang the couple that we do have. Maybe we will put them in the dining room…I like that idea!
    6. Again, I do not have a lot of cloth napkins, nor do I really use what I do have. But I am sure that I can find some reasonably priced and in good condition at a resale shop or antique store.
    7. The current everyday plates that we use as our dishes are just fine. Four of them are Blue Willow that I trade a friend years ago. They are not originals and I like that because if one ever were to break, I wouldn’t be too bummed out.
  5. Section five deals with mindless munching. I know that starting with not eating in front of the television is a great place to begin this journey. TBF is often not home when I eat dinner (because he gets home so late from work) that I just plop myself in front of the TV for dinner when the Honey Badger is sleeping and watch Dateline or some other stupid show. I will stop doing this, because this one change for me will be huge (even though I really like those Murder Mysteries with Keith Morrison!).
  6. Section six is about filling my “healthy toolbox.” I have so much that I want to address and manage that it is overwhelming to think about. I have been previously diagnosed with high-cholesterol, which I know minimizing my weight and eating more whole foods would help me conquer. As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have gained weight over the years from stress and other stuff that now I am looking at getting off around 50 to 55 pounds to be at my ideal weight. With decreasing my weight, my other numbers will dramatically improve. Right now I am nursing my daughter, so my cholesterol numbers are not accurate (per my OB/GYN). So I will need to compare these numbers after I start the weaning process and I would like to be lower than 125 for total cholesterol, which is totally attainable.

I am excited about the group that I have joined that is reading this book together. I like the idea of accountability, however, I am not sure what the group dynamics are going to look like until after we start meeting. Here’s to intentional, spiritual growth–I am getting excited! So glad the Church Fathers thought enough of the preparation period for Lent. I have needed it!

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