Yom Kippur Guide: Health Benefits of Fasting Plus Tips for an Easy Fast

by Maytal Wichman

Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement in the Jewish religion – the holiest day of the year. It is a day to make peace with others and with God. On the days leading up to Yom Kippur Jews seek out people they want to make amends with and request forgiveness from those they have offended. Yom Kippur is also marked by prayer as well as fasting for 25 hours, from sundown of one day, to sundown of the next. Food or liquid may not be consumed during this time. Contrary to popular belief, fasting is not done to punish the soul for our sins, but rather to focus on our prayer, without concern for our bodily needs.

Studies show that there are many health & emotional benefits to fasting, even if it’s just for one day. For example, fasting allows your digestive system to rest and for the body to cleanse and detoxify. Since the body is not using its energy to digest food, some of this extra energy goes to the brain and can provide mental clarity. There are also spiritual benefits to fasting; as the body begins to feel lighter, we begin to get quieter and still and are able to spend time reflecting and being more in touch with our inner self.

Tips for an Easy Fast:

  • Eat a light lunch before the pre-fast meal.
  • Leave adequate time to eat your meal slowly.
  • Include foods that are high in fats as they will make you feel full.
  • Avoid salty or spicy foods to prevent thirst during the fast.
  • Eat complex carbs (such as brown rice instead of white) and lean protein, as they, along with the fats, will take longer to break down.
  • If you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, consult with your doctor first.
  • During the break-the-fast meal, don’t eat too quickly. Start with some water and a small snack first.





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