Counting down the hours until the fast is over? Planning what delectable foods you will display on your plate? Are images of gourmet meals, penne vodka, hamburgers and other random dishes splashing across your mind?
Well, despite what our minds are telling us what we want to eat in our starvation, here is a list of what foods we need to eat to refuel and replenish our nutrient stores.
The clock strikes the end of the fast. Quickly, your hand reaches for that steaming plate of Sambusak and you ravenously consume 3 in 30 seconds. Hold on. The first thing you should be reaching for is a tall glass of refreshing water. Dehydration from a mere 2% drop in your body’s water stores is likely causing the headaches, fatigue, lack of energy, trouble concentrating and other symptoms you may be feeling. Coconut water may also be helpful in replenishing potassium levels, an electrolyte lost during your fast.
Fruits and Vegetables
We drank our water and now we are ready to fill our stomachs with something delicious, but what? Along with drinking water, we should reach for fruits and vegetables with high water content and easily digestible carbohydrates. Great choices are watermelons, grapes and honeydews with a nice salad. Try and avoid acidic fruits like grapefruits, which may cause stomach discomfort.
Finally, if you’re still hungry, you prepped your digestive system to be ready for some real food. Great choices are complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, beans, chickpeas and whole grains. Not only will they refuel your energy stores, but also some of these complex carbs are high in body-loving nutrients like vitamin A, C, potassium, magnesium, folate and beta-carotene.
Another important food group to couple with your dish is a high-quality protein. Not meant to sound expensive, high-quality proteins can be as simple and cheap as eggs. With 6 grams of protein and 9 essential amino acids, eggs take little energy to prepare and digest so they make an “egg-cellant” choice.
Along with hydration, another key component of the evening is to eat and drink slowly. Studies show it takes an average of 20 minutes for your brain to get the signal that you are full and satisfied. Avoid overeating and feeling sick to your stomach by taking the time to chew each bite.
I hope you had an easy and meaningful fast and with these tips, a healthier break-the-fast!
Here are some of my “go-to” recipes for a break-the-fast meal. I refer to them as the “Syrian-staples” since they were passed down through the generations of Syrian, Sephardic Jewry, and are sure to be found in Syrian Jewish homes, like mine and around the globe. I adjusted them slightly to be more healthful but still retain the Mediterranean flavor.
Spinach Jiben (Spinach Souffle in Pie Crust)