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The Doc’s Way to Break the Fast

Fairway Market Fresh Plain BagelsYom Kippur is probably one of the most important Jewish holidays of the year. It literally means “day of atonement.” Even Jewish people who aren’t very observant participate in some way on this day. Participating in Yom Kippur means to refrain from work, attend synagogue, and fast. The most challenging of these is the fast and knowing not just how to do it, but how to properly break it.

If a fast is broken incorrectly, it can stress the body. When we stop eating, the digestive system rests, we stop producing digestive fluids, and the stomach shrinks. Digestion will resume normal function gradually after food is reintroduced. If one does not let this happen gradually, the food taken in may not be digested properly. Undigested food slowly creeping down your digestive system can be very uncomfortable. So the first thing you should put into your system should be liquid, as it is easy for your body to process and gentle on your system. The best options are watered down fruit or vegetable juices, broths, or even coconut water. Milk may be harsh for some, so use with caution while breaking a fast. Orange or apple juices are great fruit options, but again, they should be watered down by at least half. Of all the vegetable options, carrot juice seems to be well tolerated by most.

The most comfortable way to start the fluids is to have a half a glass every 15 minutes for about an hour prior to resuming solid foods. The liquid should be between faucet cool and room temperature, not too cold. It should also be sipped slowly. Don’t gulp it down fast, or you’ll be bloated in no time. Once you decide to take in solid foods, start with small meals and chew food fully and thoroughly before swallowing. Some doctors recommend that their patients chew each bite, breaking their food down enough so it’s like liquid. This takes some of the stress off of your digestive tract. Also make an attempt to start off with blander foods. These include bagels, soup, fish with lemon, or non-spiced chicken. Save the red meat, vegetables, salad, side dishes, and desserts for later.

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