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Breaking the Fast: Everything You Need to Know Before, During, and After Yom Kippur

Sara Tane

Yom Kippur is a Jewish holiday that concludes the 10-day "High Holy Days" period. In observance of the holiday, it is customary to fast for 24 hours to signify the repentance of one's sins, while also preparing for an upcoming year of joy and happiness. In order to make this 24 hours without food as easygoing and healthy as possible, here are some ideas to keep in mind leading up to, during, and while breaking your fast.

In observance of the Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, it is a common practice to fast for 24 hours. For some, this is an easy feat that requires little thought or preparation, while for others, it can be quite a strenuous task. Either way, here are a couple tips to keep in mind when eliminating food for a day and re-introducing food at the celebratory “break-fast” at the end of the fasting period.

Don’t Overeat the Night Before

Have you ever noticed that you have a big appetite the morning after a huge meal? Rather than trying to overcompensate for your 24-hour food hiatus by overdoing the night before, eat a normal-sized, well-balanced meal the night before.

Don’t Carb-Load, Either

Remember, you’re fasting for 24 hours, not running a marathon. Incorporate a balance of both lean-protein and complex carbohydrates that will fill you up and give you lasting energy for the following day. Avoid foods that typically give you heartburn or leave your stomach feeling bloated and uncomfortable.

Drink Plenty of Water

It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is to stay hydrated leading up to the fast. The human body can go without food much longer than it can go without water. Even though it’s only a day long fast, it’s crucial to consume plenty of water.

Caffeine Lovers—Be Prepared

If your morning routine consists of a cup of java or tea, start weaning yourself a couple days in advance. The last thing you want is a throbbing caffeine headache to kick off your day of fasting. To be safe, we’d recommend weaning off at least 3 days prior to Yom Kippur.

Keep Your Mind Off Food

In a perfect world, you’d spend your day at temple, praying and repenting in observance of the holiday, however this is probably not the case for a lot of us. If you plan on going to work or class while fasting, try to go about your day as normally as possible. Stay busy and don’t spend your time scrolling through your favorite food Instagram accounts dreaming about the first thing you’re going to eat when it’s over. Also, avoid strenuous activity that your body will need nutritional fuel to sustain.

Sara Tane

When Breaking the Fast

Go slow. Start with a couple glasses of water to reintroduce liquids into your body and slowly kick your metabolism back into gear. Start with a bowl of soup, a salad, or a piece of fruit. Once you've let that sit, opt for half of a whole-wheat bagel with a thin smear of cream cheese, lox, and fresh veggies. Do not pile everything onto your plate. Start small, and take a 15-minute break and drink some more water. Try going for a short walk after the first thing you consume. Overeating after your fast will cause immense stomach discomfort, so even though you’re itching for a full on feast, make sure to take it easy.

Listen to Your Body

For most of us, going extended periods of time without consuming food is not customary. If at any point you feel nauseous, light-headed, or queasy, it’s important to respond to your body’s needs. Ultimately, this holiday is not about putting yourself through physical pain and torture, but recognizing that the day is about repentance and starting of the new year fresh.

Have a healthy new year and happy fasting!