Can someone answer this question for me. When fasting from oil, is it all oil or just olive oil? I'm confused because I've come across olive oil specifically mentioned but usually just the word oil is used.
I think this is because olive oil was the only oil available when fasting rules were established, so oil and olive oil were interchangeable. I always understood the rule to mean no oil at all, but I've known others to use canola oil or margarine.
I agree with lilyka, however. There is a variation in practice, so it's good to ask for guidance from your priest or spiritual father/mother.
I have heard that the foods that were chosen, were chosen specifically because the fathers believed that those food excited the passions. But fasting, like all things in Orthodoxy is a journey. The new Christian does not fast according to the same rule as someone who has had years of fasting and they do not fast like the priests and monks do. I fast from olive oil but still use other forms of oil (and do not know anyone who fasts from all oils - this would include most salad dressings, margerine, and so many products in which oil is an ingredient. ) This is the general rule at my church. And it fits with the diocese tradition. however sometimes people are instructed to fast in a less strict way (sometimes this best for your physical as well as your spiritual health) and sometimes they are instructed to fast in a more strict way than everyone else. Just depends on ones spiritual needs.
Fasting from wine is the same way. Some people fast from all alcohol and some fast from just wine. It just depends on what your tradition dictates (the fast is about so much more than the details of our recipe cards) and what your spiritual father thinks is best for your journey.
You're definitely right. Fasting isn't supposed to be about rules for the sake of rules. In fact, at this time I've been instructed not to fast at all due to hypoglycemia, so I'm not trying to imply that there is only one right way to do it. My priest once said that perhaps the reason I wasn't able to fast physically was because following rules is easy for me--it's breaking them that's difficult.
I will say that when I used to fast from all oil, I would eat high-fat foods like avocado, nuts, coconuts, etc.
When DH and I first became Orthodox, we were instructed by our priest to refrain from "heavy" oils, which means mainly olive oil, on non-oil fast days. Since then we have encountered people who avoid all oil, margarine, salad dressing, etc. on non-oil days, and a lot of others who keep the olive oil rule. We follow the rule we were given at baptism, and there seems to be no disagreement between factions. It is a minor difference in practice.
I've heard this before. A big part of fasting is accepting instructions to alter the fasting rules. Since obedience is so much a part of fasting, it can be more important to accept the dispensation than to follow the fast to the letter. I know people who have had a great struggle with this.