Orthodox Fast Days

by (10) Updated March 19, 2013 at 8:57 PM Created May 02, 2010 at 6:53 AM

I have been following a loose PaNu diet (I still consume dairy) for 7 months with great results (lost 30 pounds, 3 inches on my waistline, and feel great), but I have been debating on converting to Orthodox Christianity as well, I have been thrown a curve ball by the huge amount of fast days (almost half of the year) that is required. Now these fast days do not preclude all food thank goodness, but they do eliminate most of what I take for granted (Most meat and eggs). The special fasts I can handle, but the Wednesday's and Friday's of almost every week would be tough. Some of the meats allowed are: shrimp, squid, cuttlefish, octopus, lobster, crab and snail. My questions: 1st. Are there any Paleo Orthodox out there who can offer any tips or advice? 2nd. Can I create a viable Paleo diet that can compensate for missing out on most meat and eggs almost half of the year?
3rd. Does anyone have any insights or tips for such large-scale fasting on a Paleo diet (Pro or Con?). 4th. Out of the acceptable meat sources for Orthodox on fast days (shrimp, squid, cuttlefish, octopus, lobster, crab and snail, etc.), which should I focus on? Thank you all in advance, I am still on the fence with this and I will not take offense by comments/answers as I am trying to be open minded on the subject.

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9 Replies

1219 · October 23, 2010 at 12:51 PM

I am Orthodox, and I can tell you from experience that Wednesday and Fridays are the easy days :-) But that is only because I practice intermittent fasting, so its no big deal.

Shellfish is allowed but your best bet is to become very acquainted with coconut milk, meat, and water. Avocados can be helpful as well.

77338 · November 08, 2010 at 6:23 AM

aside from religious aspect, why would you insist on necessity of eating meat/eggs everyday? for it is quite plausible to presume that paleo people not always had animal-derived foods to eat (no luck at hunting etc.) - so, why not eat some fruit or whatever paleo stuff is allowed for calories (if you need to have them no matter what), and let your body recycle some damaged tissue for 'protein'

55320 · November 08, 2010 at 1:56 AM

I think the spirit of the thing is to have bland foods- it's a fast for spiritual reasons after all. I believe some days are also oil-free! If I were doing it I would rely very heavily on root vegetables, particularly boiled yams, cassava, and other calorie-rich roots. Boiled shrimp and steamed mussels are a possibility. It really depends on your goals. If weight-loss is not a concern, plantains might also work.

A good tip I have is to repurpose a rice cooker with a steamer. I use the bottom to boil roots and the top to steam seafood and vegetables. It would be perfect for your purposes.

439 · May 02, 2010 at 9:37 AM

I'm not Orthodox Christian, but my two pennies worth is I don't see anything wrong with getting your protein from seafood for the days you 'fast'. Seafood is great! I don't think you should focus on any specific seafood on that list (and it sounds like mussels and clams would also be on the list?). I've eaten them all, and they are all delicious. Just try them out as you go along.

My only worry would be whether you're getting enough fat. Can you cook your food in butter/ghee or other animal fat? If not, then I suppose you could do stews with them, or eat avocado, nuts, or get your fat from dairy or coconut milk. You could do seafood coconut curry!

Something else to think about would be the quality of seafood you're eating. I'm not well versed on the health of our oceans, or whether mercury affects shellfish, but maybe someone else will address that.

78 · August 03, 2011 at 4:28 PM

Hi, I am a Christian and do believe in fasting. Remember that nuts are high in protein, and as far as shellfish, it is not only high in protein, it is also 'brain food.' As a chef,I have had to make much study of nutrition, and I can tell you going without heavy meats while eating seafood/shellfish is going to be fine. I am working on simmering nuts to replicate beans! be creative! the key is to have days devoted to prayer, and sacrifice the food as a pleasure thing while also taking your 'food time' as a dedicated time of prayer. I would also suggest having easily transported foods in your car to give to the poor when you see them on fast days! hope this all helps!

11251 · August 03, 2011 at 10:11 PM

I tried following the Greek Orthodox rules during Lent, largely by relying on potatoes, sweet potatoes, and coconut oil. Paleo/IF style fasting is easy, and the Roman Catholic lenten rules are a breeze, but I really got stuck bad on this one because, apparently, I just can't deal with many carbohydrates. I thought I'd be able to handle it after these years of being paleo- and since tubers aren't supposed to be so bad, but I went into a fugue/depression that didn't clear up until I put animal products back into my diet.

This experience is very likely unique to me, so I suggest you try anyway while monitoring your mood. Also, people with health problems apparently get permission to eat what they have to eat during the lenten season, so it isn't a deal breaker if you can't do it.

602 · May 02, 2010 at 3:30 PM

While its not the best meat source, canned tuna is an option. Lately I've been eating sardines. The price is reasonable. The smell when you open the tin is pretty strong, though that dissipates. And the sardines themselves taste pretty good. I put a little dijon on them, though I'm thinking of doing a salad soon - capers, shaved white onion, some greens.

I second Laura's suggestion re: avocados. Also, coconut oil. At room temp its solid, and tasty by itself.

0 · March 19, 2013 at 8:57 PM

Hello! I am Greek Orthodox and I'm going through the same issue right now, and to complicate matters I'm allergic to shellfish (but thank god not squid or octopus)! On weekends during lent you are allowed olive oil and wine, but there is actually no specific rule disallowing other oils during the week, and since nuts are allowed I would not hesitate to use nut oils to cook your veggies if you truly feel you need more fat. I totally agree that avocados and coconut milk as well as all nuts and seeds will be your friend. Some of my suggestions: Breakfast: Alternate our favorite fruits with honey or maple syrup and nuts, Mashed yams or carrots with honey or maple syrup and nuts, Paleo trail mix, or fruit, coconut milk and ice smoothie. For Lunch or Dinner: Any kind of veggie stew or soup without meat: Ratatouille, seafood chowder made with coconut milk, etc., salads with avocados using different greens, dried fruits and seeds from day to day, with vinegar and citrus juices for dressing. Grilled octopus or Calamari "ceviche" with lots of fresh chopped onion and lime, or salsa or guacamole with dehydrated carrot chips. I also think mushrooms are a good kind of staple, especially grilled with lemon juice or good vinegar and topped with tomato sauce, fresh herbs and toasted pine nuts. I personally am more likely to bend the Paleo rules than the lenten rules and might add fresh legumes like sweet peas.

943 · August 03, 2011 at 5:44 PM

I sincerely admire people who have the conviction to follow religious dietary laws. But I am soooo glad I follow the paleolithic religion (neo-paganism.) "Eat every kind of natural meat and veg you can get your hands on."

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