Today’s book review is by Susan Skinner, friend of Bellator Society.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
My first thought in picking up the book Eat, Fast, Feast by Doctor Jay Richards, was, finally! I have been waiting a long time for an approach to food that incorporated the spiritual aspect of our lives because we aren’t just a body, we are a body and a soul.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them Genesis 1:27
Dr. Richards does an excellent job of laying the groundwork of the science behind the kind of fasting we as a Catholic Church used to do.
I say, “used to” because the church has largely done away with these fasts to the detriment of both our soul and body. Dr. Richards adeptly points out that there is a correlation between the decline in fasting and the decline in morality. When we fast as a sacrifice to tame our fleshly desires for the purification of our soul, it turns out there is actually a beneficial effect on our body. The spiritual effects of fasting cannot be underestimated and in scripture we see fasting practiced throughout.
But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. Matthew 17:21
Dr. Richards lays out the science and the health benefits that also happen to your body when this type of fasting is practiced.
It turns out that short term and intermittent fasting actually speeds up your metabolism. It is only when one fasts for prolonged periods that metabolism can slow down. The book changes the mindset that we have to eat multiple meals and snacks every single day to keep our metabolism going.
The practice of fasting in the book is based on the Liturgical calendar and can be practiced in conjunction with the fasts and feasts of the church, although it does not have to align with the liturgical calendar if a person didn’t want it to; but the 46 day plan Dr. Richards lays out is perfect to practice during Lent. The Eastern Church still practices these types of fasts and in the beginning of the book he shows you how they still do this.
Our modern day Western Church sensibilities don’t really understand how to fast.
We go from a diet of sugar and high glycemic load to trying to not eat for a day and then we wonder why we have a headache and feel sick. This was not the way the ancients fasted. They did not have access to the kind of food and bounty we have today and so they were conditioned to fast intermittently and they feasted on Sunday. If there was a full fasting day their body had been prepped to handle it without making them sick.
The diet itself draws insights from other low carb, ketogenic and paleo plans, but Dr. Richards in a refreshing observation points out that bread is not evil. He tells us how the manna from heaven was the primary gift from God to the Israelites in the desert, while the quail was the secondary form of food. Though he does point out that highly refined processed bread is not the best item to have and the plan is low carb, his acknowledgement of bread was refreshing to me as bread is spoken of throughout scripture.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35
This book is not simply about fasting, but about eating and feasting.
We are an Easter people so feasting is a part of this earthly life and what a wonderful thing to celebrate all that God has given to us. The book lays out a plan and gives instruction of how to follow it, but it is so much more than a diet. When we seek God in all things and grow in our spiritual life our emotions and body align with the will of God. Dr. Richards points out that the spiritual effect is not something that can be tested in a clinical trial. I suspect if a person entered into this practice with the disposition of loving God to the fullest regardless of the physical outcome, they will find themselves flourishing in mind, body and soul.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23
My name is Susan Skinner and I am a lifelong Catholic. I attended all Catholic schools including the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.
My primary vocation is wife to my husband Jason and mother to 3 children. I am a Catholic speaker, columnist, blogger and Director of Adult Faith Formation at Saint Philip Catholic Church in Franklin, TN. I am also a Spiritual Director and work in Deliverance Ministry.
Though I have always identified as Catholic, it was the murder of my friend in 2010 that brought a transforming change to my heart and made me a true disciple of Jesus Christ. I now make it my mission to spread His Love and Good News everywhere I go. My blog is named after my friend Veronica. You can find my writings and talks at veilofveronica.blog.