Bread and Water Fasting

It’s Lent, and that means some people are thinking about extreme penances, such as bread and water fasting.  The concept is being popularized by such projects as Nineveh 90, which calls for participants to do a bread and water/juice fast on Wednesday and Friday, and Flame of Love, which calls for bread-and-water fasting on Monday.

Between my cardiologist, who put me on a 1400-calories-a-day diet and the Confraternity of Penitents, whose members fast throughout Lent, I do plenty of fasting.

But I thought I’d try the bread-and-water routine a couple of days a week.  I chose Wednesday and Friday, following Nineveh 90.  Bread-and-water fits within the CFP requirements of no meat on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

A couple of definitions:  “Bread” means any bread — croissant, whole wheat, Wonder, bagel, SuperPretzel, etc. — without anything else . . . no butter, no jam, no nothing.  Just bread.  Cold bread.

“Water” means plain water.  Not sparkling water.  Not flavored water.  Not VitaminWater.  Just water.

My conclusion after four weeks:  You won’t starve on a bread-and-water fast for a couple of days a week.  In fact, you’re likely not to feel at all hungry; if anything, you run the risk of constipation.

So what’s the penance?  There’s no enjoyment.  Most of the time, when we eat, we can savor the taste of steak, fish, or various vegetables.  But bread is bread.  It’s pretty much the same.  Not much difference in the flavor, no savory aromas.  And water is water.  It’s not coffee, with that wonderful smell.  It’s not Diet Coke, with that tangy taste and carbonation.  It’s just plain water.


About Joel Whitaker

Joel Whitaker is a long-time professional journalist (Tampa Bay Times, Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Bulletin, Institutional Investor, executive newsletters) and Catholic convert. He is the RCIA coordinator for his parish.
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