This article was first published in JWeekly.
If there’s one thing most Jews can agree on, it’s that fasting on Yom Kippur isn’t easy. Unless you happen to be an ascetic, or are really into the latest detox/cleansing trend, not eating for almost 25 hours can be challenging.
But there are ways to set yourself up for a successful fast, and according to Bay Area rabbis and dietitians, it’s all about how and what you consume heading into the Day of Atonement.
“According to Jewish law, we are supposed to have a heavy meal as our last one before fasting,” notes Rabbi David Booth of Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto.
But is that a good thing?
Not according to clinical dietitian Denise Garbinski of San Francisco.
“You want to prepare your body the best you can, so you can be meditative and not focus on your hunger,” Garbinski says. “So, you want to eat a nutrient-dense meal, not necessarily a large meal.”
She recommends consuming complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes (rather than white potatoes), healthy fats (avocados, nuts) and high-quality proteins like tofu, seitan, beans or fish.
In other words, traditional Ashkenazi Jewish holiday fare — made with refined sugar and flour, high in fat and low on fiber — is not the way to go just before Kol Nidre.
“You want to feel full, not stuffed,” Garbinski notes. “You want to eat foods that break down slowly.”
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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.