Healthy Break Fast Guide

September 16, 2010

Tomorrow night is the start of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, a day of fasting, praying, and repenting for the past year’s sins. Throughout the year there are many lesser known fast days, but this one is the biggie for all Jews — it’s a 25 hour period of no eating or drinking. Whether you fast on this holiday or for a different religious holiday, you know that by the end of the fast you’re tired, thirsty, and famished. So how do you break your fast without undoing all of the healthy habits that you work so hard on the rest of the year? Here are some tips:

  • Don’t try to make up for the meals you skipped. The break fast meal is not a time for you to eat the equivalent of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Portion out the equivalent of what you would normally eat for dinner (keeping in mind a balance of whole grains, protein, and veggies) and enjoy the meal.
  • Take it slow. If you eat too quickly there’s a chance you may not feel so great. Remember that after not eating all day your digestive system needs to warm up and if you eat too fast your body won’t be ready for all the food. So eat slowly — there’s no race to the finish line.
  • Rehydrate. At the end of a fast most people think they are starving, but they are actually dehydrated (dehydration is commonly masked as hunger). Your best bet is to break your fast with a small glass (about 4 ounces) of 100% juice to raise your blood sugar levels (since they will be at rock bottom), and then switch to water. Typical Yom Kippur break fast includes a lot of salty food — smoked salmon, white fish, cheese — all of which will dehydrate you further. So make sure to drink plenty of water throughout and after the meal.
  • Choose wisely. Here’s the dilemma: Whole wheat or plain bagel? White fish salad or white fish? Nova or lox? There are so many options and not all are equal. Your best bets:
    • Whole wheat bagel (remember 1 bagel = 4 slices of bread)
    • White fish (white fish salad is full of mayo, meaning extra calories and fat)
    • Nova (smoked salmon with less sodium than salmon lox)
  • Give yourself a treat. You have fasted all day after all! So allow yourself a cookie, piece of danish, or a slice of marble cake. Just don’t overdo it — one of something is enough. And make sure to have some fruit with it. The water content of fruit will continue to hydrate you and fill you up.

To all of my readers celebrating Yom Kippur, may you have an easy and meaningful fast!

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