Healthy ways to break the Yom Kippur fast

On Yom Kippur, one of the holiest holidays in the Jewish faith, Jews choose to abstain from eating or drinking for a full 24 hours. At the end of Yom Kippur, it's traditional to have a large, celebratory meal, known as Breaking the Fast. While it may be tempting to pile on the food after a day of hunger, that's not a very healthy decision. Here's how to eat in a healthy way after a Yom Kippur fast, and why it's better than having a big meal immediately.

Healthy ways to break the Yom Kippur fast

1. What happens when you fast?

  • The human body has several methods for surviving when it isn't receiving any food.
  • After the first six hours of fasting, the body starts to pull glucose (energy-storing sugars) from fat, liver, and muscle tissue.
  • Only 24 hours without food isn't enough to do harm, but it's more than enough to lower good blood sugar levels.

2. Dehydration and sugar loss

  • Since Yom Kippur fasting prohibits any food or drink, the most immediate need after fasting is to hydrate.
  • All fasts should break with a glass of water before any other food.
  • As for proper fast-breaking foods, it's important to remember that the body needs to replenish its blood glucose levels.
  • Natural sugars in moderate amounts are the best bet.

3. Start with fruit

  • Soft fruits like bananas, grapes, and watermelon are ideal fast-breaking foods.
  • They have more water, plus they're packed with natural sugar and nutrients that are easy to digest in comparison to heavier foods like meat and bread.
  • A cup of soft fruit brings the body back to normal ahead of a full meal.

4. Steamed vegetables

  • With the sugars and nutrients of fresh fruit forming a good foundation after the fast, some lightly steamed vegetables will make for a good meal that has a bit more substance to it.
  • It can be tempting to go for fatty, savoury items like meat and cheese, but the stomach is probably still too delicate at this early stage.
  • Steamed and salted carrots, greens, and yellow squash are safer and more likely to make the body feel good rather than heavy or bloated.
  • The Yom Kippur fast is all about spiritual fulfilment and mindfulness.
  • Breaking the fast in smart, healthy ways maintains that tradition and teaches a valuable lesson about how to feed the body while also feeding the soul.
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