Do you dread fasting for Yom Kippur every year?
Changes of any kind to something so vital to your wellbeing as eating can be difficult. That’s why being kind to your body during the Yom Kippur fast is incredibly important.
One way that we resist the fear and change that fasting brings into our lives during this holiday is by binge eating before and after the fast.
Today’s post addresses the phenomenon of binge eating, including why you do it, its impact on your body, and tips for avoiding binging during Yom Kippur this year.
First, a definition: Binge eating is consuming a large quantity of food in a short amount of time. While typically associated with eating disorders, it’s actually a cycle that many of us would easily recognize in our eating patterns: eating an unhealthy quantity of food followed by feelings of guilt and shame.
Why We Binge Eat Before and After Yom Kippur
The simple truth is that we binge eat before and after the Yom Kippur fast because we’re afraid of being hungry. In addition, many of us grew up eating a big meal before and after Yom Kippur because it was part of the tradition.
Once you’ve named this fear and the traditional elements influencing this practice, you can start to work with it. That’s because fear won’t help with your hunger. And often, we’re more afraid of the prospect of being hungry than what the actual experience of hunger is for us.
Binge Eating’s Effect on the Body
So fear won’t help with the hunger. And, over-eating actually makes it harder to get through the Yom Kippur fast.
That’s because binge eating is disruptive to your body. It stresses your organs and digestive tract. It’s certainly not kind to your body.
Your body can actually handle fasts just fine (better than our minds can). Your body has a natural capacity for fasting—trust it.
When you set up the environment to support your body for the fast, it knows what to do. Which leads me to the next section…
Three Tips to Avoid Binging This Yom Kippur
- Drink water: The last thing to do before the fast and the first thing to do after the fast is to drink water.
- Keep the meals small: For the final meal before the fast and at the meal to break the fast, cook and serve smaller portions than you normally would. (You know your own portion sizes, though reducing portions by half is a good rule of thumb.)
- Eat simple foods: Simple organic foods straight from the earth and unprocessed are the ideal bookends to the Yom Kippur fast. This is not the time for extremes or rich flavors.
Let’s practice being kind to our bodies this Yom Kippur as we begin and end our fasting.
Your turn: What have you found to be most helpful in beginning and breaking your Yom Kippur fast?