As the Jewish Holiday of Yom Kippur approaches this Saturday, comments about fasting and complaints of hunger are sure to come. Here’s a breakdown of this holy day to help you understand why your friends are starving themselves, or if you’re participating, how to do it safely.
A large part of the tradition surrounding Yom Kippur includes abstaining from consuming food — or more simply, fasting. The fast occurs from sundown the evening before the holiday, Friday, Oct. 3, and ends sundown the day of the holiday, Saturday, Oct. 4. The more traditional opinion about Yom Kippur is that not eating is meant to be a form of atonement. However, some rabbis emphasize that this fasting is because an individual should simply be clearing their mind and not worrying about worldly issues such as food on this holy day (although I’m sure most Jews would tell you that food becomes the only thing we think about in the hours just before sundown).
Regardless of the reason for fasting, it’s always good to stay safe in order to have an “easy fast,” as the Yom Kippur greeting says. Here are some quick tips to keep for yourself or share with friends:
1. While it might seem like a good idea to have a huge meal the night before fasting, it might just make you hungrier the next day. Instead, opt for an average size meal of fiber-heavy foods to help you stay full for as long as possible.
2. If you’re coffee-dependent, try to cut down on caffeinated drinks and foods in the days leading up to the fast. That way, your system isn’t shocked by the absence of caffeine on Yom Kippur.
3. When the fast is over, head straight for a glass of water to rehydrate before biting into those bagels. If you’re feeling faint, choose juice instead — it will help boost your energy.
4. Most importantly, don’t make yourself sick! The point of the holiday is not to make yourself ill, and many rabbis caution against doing the fast if you’re unwell. So if you need to nibble throughout the day, don’t beat yourself up about it.