Fasting for Religious Observance

Fasting is an important spiritual practice in many religions and is observed during Yom Kippur, Ramadan, and Lent. Here are a few tips to consider for a healthy and spiritually fulfilling fast!

Fasting Best Practices

  • Drink as much water as you can when you can. Restricting your fluid intake increases your risk of dehydration. Signs of dehydration include feeling dizzy or lightheaded, confusion, dry mouth, and fatigue. Consider breaking your fast by drinking fluids to help with rehydrating and ease the transition into solid foods. Don’t just chug water all at once, drink normal amounts at a reasonable pace.
  • Consider avoiding foods which may make you feel thirsty. If you are about to start your fast, certain foods that are high in salt, spicy, or contain caffeine may be dehydrating.
  • If you are about to start fast or have just ended your fast, it is more helpful not to eat more than you normally would. Avoid discomfort by pacing yourself and being mindful of what your body is telling you.
  • Be careful not to over exert yourself. Fasting restricts the amount of energy coming in from what you are eating, so be mindful of how much energy you are expending. It might be a good idea to lower your activity level or avoid strenuous activities.
  • Rest when you can. Fasting can obviously really affect your energy levels. If you can, consider taking a nap when you feel tired.
  • Eat balanced meals. A balanced meal can help with staving off hunger and maintaining blood sugar levels. Elements of a well-balanced diet include complex carbohydrates (whole grains, legumes, starchy vegetables), fruits and vegetables (leaf greens, berries), protein, and healthy fats (nuts, seeds, olive oil). Foods that are high in fiber can also help with digestion and bowel movements.
  • Consider reducing your caffeine intake. If you regularly consume caffeinated drinks, consider giving yourself time to cut back to avoid caffeine withdrawals symptoms while fasting.
  • Communicate to professors, coaches, or work supervisors that you are fasting. It’s okay to ask for help if you need accommodations while you are observing.
  • Trust your body! Pay attention to how your body feels and adjust your fasting practices to suit your personal needs.