Fasting, Rules and Suggestions
We know that fasting in the Orthodox Church is a tool which leads to greater prayer and spirituality. Fasting is a denial to the body and a reminder to prayer and grow closer to Christ. If you can deny your craving for certain foods, then perhaps you can deny your craving to gossip or be dishonest or engage in other sinful activities. If you can increase your stamina of fasting, maybe you can increase your habit of prayer.
Remember, fasting requires practice and routine. Please speak to your spiritual father or Fr. Demetrios if you have questions about fasting. In addition, the goarch.org website offers many tools and reminders about which days are "fasting" or "fast free." Check The Online Chapel and Orthodox Calendar and follow the icons and symbols; the calendar tells you what foods are allowed on each day. There are some days when all foods are permitted. On a day with a 'fish' symbol, only fish is allowed, no meat or eggs. If there is a 'cheese' symbol, all dairy products are allowed. Other days are more strict fast days, but wine and oil are allowed.
On a 'strict fast day' if you feel comfortable you can avoid all the previously mentioned foods, but if you are a first time faster, try to avoid meat and fish. Children who are under the age of 12 yrs can practice fasting if their parents feel comfortable. When they are older, they will be accustom to fasting and can practice with their parents more seriously. Create a habit of fasting, and eventually it will be a part of your day and lifestyle.
Take some time to familiarize yourself fasting from the perspective of various Church Fathers.
The Rule of Fasting in the Orthodox Church - by Fr. Seraphim Rose
Three Helpful Principles of Fasting - A Letter to a new convert to Orthodoxy
Various Replies to Questions on Fasting - From Orthodox Tradition
The life of the Orthodox Church perpetuates and fulfills the ministry of Jesus Christ. The close association between Christ and His Church is reflected in the images from the Scriptures which declare that Christ is the Head and the Church is His Body, and that Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church is His bride. Learn more»