Fasting Is Part of Many Faiths

It is also part of a healthy lifestyle for many atheists

Shefali O'Hara
3 min readMar 26, 2023
Photo by Abdullah Arif on Unsplash

Since I was diagnosed with metastatic brain cancer about 2 years ago, I have adopted intermittent fasting. I have also researched fasting, and the health benefits, particularly where this relates to cancer.

In recent weeks, my fasting protocol has coincided with Lent in the Christian calendar.

Many Christian groups encourage members to give something up for Lent. Very few still encourage them to practice it in a rigorous way, however, the way the Catholic church once did.

In the “olden days”, Catholics might have only had one meal a day, which would correspond to the modern intermittent fasting practice of OMAD, or one meal a day. They also were not supposed to drink milk during this time. This rule applied even to young children and the elderly, though babies still nursing at the breast continued to do so. They were supposed to fast like this for 40 days.

In modern times, the group that comes closest to these practices are devout Muslims, who fast during the month of Ramadan. In these communities, children, the elderly, and pregnant women often participate in these fasts, though there is some leeway given to those who might be at medical risk.



Shefali O'Hara

Cancer survivor, writer, engineer. BSEE from MIT, MSEE, and MA in history. Love nature, animals, books, art, and interesting discussions.