The Healthy Way to Prepare For Your Yom Kippur Fast

POPSUGAR Photography | Sisilia Piring
POPSUGAR Photography | Sisilia Piring

There's no denying that fasting for religious holidays can be incredibly difficult, but there are many things that you can do prior to fasting that can help make your fast easier and (somewhat) bearable. We spoke via email to three experts to find out the keys to making your fast easier this time around.

What to Eat and Drink Before the Fast

The overall goal is to drink a lot of water the day before and avoid dehydrating foods. Nutrition Coach Carrie McMahon suggested eating meals with "high protein, high-quality fats, and fiber prior to the fast to stay full," and explained that all three together "will help with a slow and timely digestion."

Also, don't skip out on carbs! They can help keep your energy levels up throughout the fast and also keep you hydrated. For your last meal before fasting, McMahon said to "eat all three macronutrients together — carbs, proteins, and fats — since they digest at different rates; overall, you are fuller for longer. Usually carbs are digested first, then protein, and then fat."

The Foods You Should Avoid

Today is not the day to binge on cake. "Stay away from high-salt or high-sugar food. [These foods] spark cravings and the desire to snack more," McMahon said. Avoiding spicy, salty, and processed foods can also help ease your fast. Alcohol can be very dehydrating, and although it may seem necessary to get through your family dinner the night before, it will only make you very thirsty the next day.

It's important to point out that overeating the day before will not compensate for your hunger while fasting; in fact, it can make you even more hungry than usual.

Is Fasting Safe?

Although it may feel a bit torturous, Lisa Eberly, RD, MPH, pointed out that a 24-hour fast actually has some health benefits. "Some research has suggested that mimicking starvation in small doses like that can help prevent oxidative diseases, like cancer," she said, but added that continued, long-term fasting can slow your metabolism.

What to Do Once It's Over

When it comes to breaking the fast, as much as we'd love to immediately attack the buffet and walk away with three sky-high plates of bagels, Certified Diabetes Expert and RD Lori Zanini doesn't quite agree, suggesting to break the fast "strategically." She recommends starting with "small sips of fluid with a small amount of natural sweetener," as her go-to is "warm water tea with honey." From there, move on to smaller meals full of clean, healthy, and easy-to-digest foods.

Good luck, and may the fast be with you!