As some of us are already dreading, this Saturday is Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for us Jews. This is the Day of Atonement, or the one- shot deal to repent for all of our sins we did this year. However, in order to truly symbolize our remorse, we fast for a full day to concentrate solely on our repentance.
As a nutritionist, this fasting tradition goes against all my training and clinical instincts. However, as a Jew, this day is a necessary for my faith. To reconcile with my two halves, here are some tips to make it through the fast. A few days before and especially the day before:
1) Avoid dehydration. The biggest problem with fasting is dehydration. Avoid salty foods, drink at least 8 glasses of water, as well as lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
2) Avoid caffeine. Switch to decaffeinated coffee, or slowly lower the number of cups you drink per day to reduce your addiction and avoid dehydration from caffeine. Do not cut yourself from caffeine the day of, as this will cause a massive headache!!
3) Focus on complex carbohydrates. Just like athletes carbohydrate-load before an event for better performance, you need a lot of energy stores to make it through a fast. Whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables are complex carbohydrates, which are great for carbohydrates stores for energy. Although we also need to eat proteins and fats as well, these nutrients do not provide the energy storage. So make sure you indulge in carbohydrate heavy, but healthy meals and snacks!
4) Check with your doctor about prescription medications and medical conditions. Some medications or conditions may not be conducive to fasting so check with your doctor first.
5) Don’t overeat. Overeating lead to dehydration as your body uses a lot of water to process the foods eaten. Eating too much too quickly will also cause your blood sugar to rise quickly causing you to be hungry faster!
6) Take it easy. Do not overexert yourself to conserve energy and therefore energy stores.
***Note: These tips can be applied to you athletes as well before events, not just us repenting Jews!!
After the fast....
The meal after the fast is most often a glutinous meal filled with all of our favorite breakfast dishes. Bagels, lox, cream cheese, blintzes, yum yum!! Another major food group at break-fast are eggs. Know that you can enjoy your whole eggs (not just egg-whites) as eggs are a healthy, balanced part of a diet in moderation.
Why have you done a good thing?
Despite recalls and outdated research giving eggs a bad wrap, eggs are one of the most nutritious foods we have. Decades of research have now shown that eggs have limited effect on your cholesterol. Some studies have shown that eggs may reduce blood pressure, as well as reduce cholesterol by increasing the size of LDL cholesterol, making LDL cholesterol less likely to cause heart disease.
Eggs are also the most bio-available and complete form of protein. Meaning, eggs are unmatched as a balanced source of protein necessary for life and preserving muscle strength. One egg provides 5.5 g protein and only 74 calories. This is a healthy protein to include in your diet for weight management.
Eggs are loaded with vitamins and minerals, including antioxidants that prevent macular degeneration and promote eye health. Eggs also have choline, a vitamin that is essential for brain health and reduces inflammation, reducing the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Choline is also essential in pregnant women for fetal brain development and prevention of birth defects. Unfortunately, choline deficiencies are amongst the most common nutrient deficiencies. Luckily, eggs yolks are the richest source of choline among foods, followed closely by soybeans. 2 large eggs provide 252 milligrams of choline, which is a little less than half your daily recommended intake (550 milligrams per day for men, 425 milligrams per day for women).
How can I eat eggs healthily?
Quiche is a perfect dish to incorporate this super food and vegetables into your diet. It’s easy to make ahead of time and store in the fridge, making it great for the holidays. Although traditionally very caloric and heavy, this healthy twist on this French dish is a very nutritious and light dish great for brunch, lunch or dinner!
½ pound of potatoes, peeled and shredded (suggest Yukon Gold or experiment with sweet potatoes!!)
3 ½ teaspoons olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 onion, diced
1.5 cups of broccoli
3 large eggs
1 cup skim milk
1 ounce Gruyere cheese, shredded
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat a pie pan with ½ teaspoon of olive oil. Toss the shredded potatoes with 1 teaspoon oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Press an even layer into the pie dish, up the sides like a crust. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
2) Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Sautee onions and broccoli in remaining 2 teaspoons of oil until softened. Let cool slightly.
3) Whisk together eggs and milk. Spread the vegetable mixture even into pie dish on crust. Top with cheese. Pour egg mixture on top.
4) Bake until firm around edges but wobbly in middle, around 20 minutes. Let cool and served warm or at room temperature. **Suggest serving with a simple side salad of spinach and radishes with a light oil and vinegar dressing.
Have an easy fast everyone!! Remember to hydrate and eat complex carbohydrates after your fast as well!!