Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to Break Your Fast (Hint: Bagels and Lox are NOT part of the picture)

Although today’s fast is relatively short, it may feel like you haven’t eaten or drank for days. Many of us are accustomed to eating every few hours, or grazing throughout the day, and so we feel, very acutely, the absence of food.

The truth is most of us could stand to eat less, or less often. When we eat all day long, our digestive systems don’t get the opportunity to rest. In addition, we often eat mindlessly, and by doing so we forfeit the opportunity to see how our food choices affect our bodies, our energy, our health and even our mood (more on that in a later post).

And while this fast is too short to result in deep detoxification or internal cleansing (minus that caffeine withdrawal headache that should be kicking in just about now), even a short fast like this one can offer insight regarding our eating habits and hopefully inspire us to make some thoughtful changes. So, aside from the Halachic requirements to fast and any spiritual benefits that accompany this requirement, we do get a small taste (no pun intended) of the health benefits of fasting.

However, if you break the fast by gorging on bread and/or sugar, you’ll likely find your self with a “fasting hangover” (headache, stomach ache, constipation, etc). The traditional (at least for American-born, Ashkenazi Jews) break fast meal of bagels, lox, and spreads full of mayo is truly a digestive disaster. (In a nutshell: it’s too starchy, sugary, and salty.)

What is the best way to break a fast? While everyone is different, there are a few universal principles here from which we all can benefit.
Below are some tips for breaking your fast in a way that respects your body and your belly:

1. Drink room temperature water. Water should be the first thing you put in your mouth after the fast. If you can, take a high-quality probiotic with this water, to help restore the proper balance of bacteria in your gut after the fast.

2. Eat small portions. We don’t need to eat as much as we think we do, especially after a fast. Try eating tonight’s meal on a salad plate, or in a bowl. And of course, CHEW thoroughly 

3. Start with soup. A brothy soup with lots of veggies will help replace your mineral stores, and is easy on the digestive system. Avoid using flavored soup powders, which usually contain MSG. Rely on herbs and spices for flavor.

4. Eat REAL food. Avoid processed or pre-packaged foods. Most contain additives or preservatives and poor quality oils, which stress your digestive system. If you’re too tired or weak to cook, stick to simple things: boiled brown rice or quinoa, roasted veggies, simple salads, etc. Partner with a neighbor or a few friends and do a mini-potluck so you don’t need to prepare a full meal. Keep it simple, for your sanity as well as for your belly!

5. Go vegan. Try a meal without animal products. Instead, make veggies, fruits, whole grains, and legumes (beans, lentils, etc) the main course. Your digestive system takes a few hours to process protein, especially animal protein, and since you’ll be going to bed shortly after your meal, it’s best to eat easily digested foods. If you feel the need for animal protein, try eggs or fish, rather than dairy products, or chicken or beef.

B’teavon and L’Briut!!

PS: Did you gain any insight into your eating patterns or habits as a result of the fast?
What was revealed to you via this simple act of abstinence and pause? I’d love to hear your discoveries.

Did you unearth something that needs more attention? Need more support in creating your ideal diet, one that gives you the energy and health you need to live to your fullest potential? Call me today to set up your initial consultation and see how I can help you reach your health goals. 054 204 4773

1 comment:

  1. Arlyn,

    Thank you so much for this wonderful blog. I love reading and re-reading your posts! This one was especially helpful since the fast ends so late here in canada.

    Looking forward to your next post!