Yom Kippur is a time for repentance and atonement. While it is a time to reflect on your actions over the course of the year, and wherever else your mind and prayers take you, it can also be a time to think about food. Yom Kippur is an appropriate time to consider the food that you eat, its effect on your health and the environment, while you endure the temporary absence of food. While on the path of your reflection of food, it is also a time to consider the opposing cycles of fasting and feasting, the meaning that each of them have in your life, and why these are important to consider during a chag (holiday) such as Yom Kippur.
Take Initiative to Alleviate Hunger. Yom Kippur is also a time to consider hunger, hunger relief, and helping those in need. Don’t wait for someone else to do it, be the one to take initiative and set up a food drive for your synagogue during the high holidays. Another great way to consider hunger during this holiday is to take the money that you normally would have spent on food for you and your family that day, and use it to donate to a community who is in need of food.
Repent Productively. Make the most of your day to repent. Spend the time that you are not in shul on Yom Kippur doing what makes the day most meaningful for you and gives you a platform to expand your thoughts. Rather than dreading the fast, try to embrace the fast, your discomfort, and what it represents.
Before and After the Fast
Don’t stuff yourself the meal before the fast. It’s tempting to overeat at the Seudah Mafseket, but it actually makes fasting harder. Overeating can cause stomach upset and heartburn, which are the last things you want to be dealing with when you’re trying to focus in shul! Eat a normal sized meal and eat until you feel full to ensure an easy and comfortable fast.
- Drink plenty of water
- Wean yourself off of caffeine
- Avoid salty foods
- Eat complex carbohydrates (such as brown rice, quinoa)
- Avoid heavy meats (If you would like to eat meat, stick to poultry)
- Start off by eating fruit in order to get your blood sugar back in action
- Continue eating with a mixture of protein and complex carbohydrates
- Easy Tip: Prepare a quinoa dish or wheat berry dish ahead of time, put it in the fridge, pull it directly out after the shofar blast and your good to go!
Prep for the big day, and don’t supersize it! For a few days leading up to the fast, eat normal-sized portions at every meal. If you tend to overeat, be aware of how your stomach is feeling, eat slowly so your brain gets the signal you are full, and stop when you are satiated. Preparing for the fast in this way will greatly help control hunger pains.
Plan ahead and go slow. Make sure that you won’t be rushing through your last meal, known as the Seudah Mafseket, on Erev Yom Kippur. Leave adequate time to finish your meal so you can eat slowly. If you’re a fast eater and have trouble slowing down, consider putting the fork in your opposite hand or using chopsticks. Slowing down the pace of your meal is better for digestion and allows time for your brain to get the signal that you are full so that you don’t overeat.