Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur Pre and Post Fast Foodspiration and Tips

Dena Gershkovich September 14, 2020

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Yom Kippur is coming right up! Here is some cooking inspiration and tips to help you prepare for the fast day.

We spoke with Rorie Weisberg, recipe developer and health coach, about her favorite recipes to prepare for before and after Yom Kippur.

1. What factors do you consider when deciding how and what to eat before and after Yom Kippur?

I try to get in foods that really satisfy, such as healthy fats. I like to focus on eating light during the day before the fast so that I get hungry enough closer to the fast to eat a filling meal. I find that if I eat a really big breakfast or lunch, when I get to the meal before the fast, I’m not really hungry. This can cause me to either wind up not eating so much before the fast or, alternatively, overeating and then feeling so crazily stuffed by the time the fast starts.

2. What are some of your go-to pre-fast foods? Do you have any tips for preparing food for before Yom Kippur?

I am going to be having spelt sourdough bread, soup, a protein (probably chicken bottoms), some leafy greens, such as sautéed spinach or kale, maybe some sautéed broccoli, and maybe some sweet potatoes and/or quinoa. I am going to focus on eating well but not overeating. For lunch I’ll probably have eggs and avocado, which are high in healthy fats and will keep me fueled. I will also be focusing a lot on hydration.

This year, Yom Kippur starts on a Sunday night, so I’ll probably do a lot of my Yom Kippur cooking when I cook for Shabbat. When I make my Shabbat chicken, I am planning on seasoning my Yom Kippur chicken, freezing it and then just defrosting it and baking it on Sunday. You can even just take the chicken out of your Shabbat chicken soup and puree the broth with the vegetables from the soup – that’s an easy way to make a cream of vegetable soup. Sweet potatoes can be tossed with olive oil and spices; you can also season frozen broccoli or cauliflower with olive oil, salt, pepper and spices – it’s very simple. I also plan to prepare my pre-fast sourdough bread when I make my bread for Shabbat.

3. What would you say are the biggest challenges when it comes to preparing dishes for before and after Yom Kippur? How do you combat these challenges?

Erev Yom Kippur is a busy day, and there’s a lot to do. It’s definitely not a day for fancy cooking. It’s not the time or place to make recipes that are too detailed – save that for Sukkot! Usually simple foods are the easiest to prepare. Try to make recipes that you can make in your sleep and that you know your family will eat. Make your menu before – on the Wednesday after Rosh Hashanah – and prepare on Thursday and Friday for pre- and post-fast so that you’re not going into the fast frazzled. You definitely want to leave time to get yourself ready, your family ready, your house ready and your mind and soul ready. During this important time of year, I try to focus on being in shul and getting to shul calm. Yom Kippur cooking doesn’t need to be fancy. It just needs to be filling. Serve your food on pretty dishes, and it will be nice.

4. What are some of your go-to post-fast recipes?

The way we break the fast is very traditional, but my family likes it. I usually make vegetable soup, sourdough bagels, eggs, guacamole and a vegetable platter. I also like to make my electrolyte drink (freshly squeezed orange juice, fresh lemon juice, raw honey and Himalayan salt) and really focus on rehydrating. I try to have everything ready in advance for after the fast.

5. Do you have any advice in general relating to cooking for Yom Kippur?

If you’re a mom with little kids at home, remember that they are going to be hungry on Yom Kippur and you’re going to be fasting, so it’s not a happy combination. Something that I’ve learned over the years is to put up a cholent every year on erev Yom Kippur, no matter what day of the week it falls out on. This way, when my kids want lunch, it’s there and it’s healthy. I also try to have cut up veggies in the fridge and other grab-and-go easy things. You can also put up a stew or a soup in a crockpot. It’s much better than watching your kids eat cream cheese and bread all day and be hungry.

Pre-Fast and Post-Fast Tips and Tricks

Pre-fast Tips

Here are some additional tips for how you can prepare your body for Yom Kippur:
● It’s a good idea to start preparing for the fast early. The earlier you start hydrating yourself and eating balanced meals, the more likely it is that you’ll feel good during the fast. I recommend preparing for the fast at least one week in advance. If that is not possible, then start preparing your body for fasting as early as you are able to.

● Remember that all of the macronutrients are equally important – it’s not just about the carbs! Make sure to eat a balance of protein, carbohydrates (ideally whole grains, since they will contribute filling fiber), fruits/vegetables (which will also contribute fiber) and healthy fats (fats such as nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocado help with satiety). If you consume mostly carbohydrates (especially white carbohydrates) before the fast, then you are actually setting yourself up to be hungrier on Yom Kippur, since your blood sugar will rise and then rapidly fall, manifesting as hunger.

A note on sports drinks

Sodium and potassium are key electrolytes that help your body’s reactions run smoothly and keep you functioning well. You can, however, get plenty of sodium and potassium from the foods that you eat. Fruits and vegetables such as potatoes, bananas, cooked spinach, oranges and melon have plenty of potassium. Additionally, the average person gets plenty of sodium in their diet – most Americans consume way more sodium than what’s recommended! So instead of focusing on guzzling Gatorade, focus on eating balanced meals and hydrating yourself. You will get all of the electrolytes you need if you eat a balanced diet! There’s absolutely no need to spend extra money on sports drinks if you’re eating sufficiently.

● However, if you aren’t a water drinker, electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade and others can help you meet your pre-fasting fluid needs. Other drinks, like unsweetened seltzers, decaffeinated teas or fruit-infused water, can also help you meet your fluid needs if drinking plain water doesn’t excite you. What’s most important is that you are drinking enough. If a fancy drink helps you do that, that’s fine, but if water works for you, that’s fine as well.

● Caffeinated beverages are diuretics, which means that they speed up urination and cause you to lose water faster. Aim to replace every caffeinated cup with one to two cups of water to stay hydrated.

Post-Fast Tips

Follow these tips to help break your fast in a way which feels good to your body:

● Eat slowly when you break your fast. Eating too quickly can lead to nausea or discomfort.

● Take regular breaks while eating if you feel like you need to. Your food isn’t going anywhere! It’s okay to break the fast with a light meal and eat more food later in the evening.

● Make sure to hydrate after the fast. It can be easy to forget to drink if you’re more hungry than thirsty.

Wishing you and your family an easy fast and a meaningful Yom Kippur!

Dena Gershkovich is a dietetic intern with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. She holds a B.S. in Dietetics and a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Maryland. Check out Dena’s blog, The Artsy Palate, Instagram account (@theartsypalate), and Facebook page (The Artsy Palate) to see more of her work.