The Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur is quickly approaching – a time of year where Jews omit food and drink for 24 hours. Instead of thinking of food, they change their focus toward spiritual health and repentance or purifying the spirit. “Fasting” is a common practice for many religions such as Islam’s Ramadan and a variety of ancient mystical cults. It's also a practice for those trying to cleanse or purify their bodies to enhance their health.
A pre fast "prep" may be helpful if you often have uncomfortable symptoms when you omit food from your diet. Starting earlier in the week, try to be mindful of the types of foods you are eating before your day of fasting. Reduce salty foods, alcohol and caffeine to help lessen those painful headaches and mood drops that often accompany food and water deprivation.
After completing your religious obligations, it’s time to start eating again. Many Jewish congregations and families often host “Break the Fast” meals and buffets. Typically it consists of highly dense food items and sweet treats. For example, a glass of wine or schnopps, creamed herring, lox (smoked salmon), creamy noodle casseroles or “kugel”, cheese blintzes, chopped liver, deli meats, bagels and cream cheese and of course, the mandatory dessert items (because you deserve it after 24 hours of self-denial!).
Many of these items can reek havoc with your digestive system, whether they are gluten-free or not. Slowly rebooting your digestive system is a much more humane way to re-introduce food and fluids to your slowed down digestive organs. Avoiding a blood sugar rush is another concern, so trying to keep blood sugar levels normal is a helpful goal.
Breaking the Fast Ideas:
Begin with a slow consumption of water or very diluted wine, if that’s a must for traditional purposes. Fruit may be another way to rehydrate your system slowly. The fiber in whole fruit verses juice is another way to maintain blood sugar levels. The lower glycemic fruits include: berries (straw, blue, black, etc), cherries, apples, pears, and grapefruit to name a few.
Greens and Vegetables
Slowly add greens, veggie tray or salad, perhaps a veggie soup.
If your body is agreeable to all the above, then it may be time to slowly introduce some protein options. Primarily, listen to how your body feels, trust your hunger signals.
What is helpful is to get out of your head. When your thoughts start telling you that you “deserve” a sweet treat after denying yourself for so long, it’s the trickster talking. That is the last thing your body needs right now. Delayed gratification is helpful when thinking about those fun treats. Try waiting an hour or two after reintroducing food and see how your body is responding. Tomorrow is another day and may be a perfect time for that sweet craving you know you deserve and a good reminder to have a healthy, happy and sweet New Year.
Jan Phillips, M.Ed.