There are going to be a lot of opinions out there about how to break a fast, but there are two main goals we are meant to achieve with a post fast meal. Firstly, we want to replenish the body with the nutrients it is lacking, and secondly we want to avoid a blood sugar spike and crash at any cost.
Goal #1: I like to tell people to view their post fast meal as breakfast in the morning. When we go to sleep, there are a good 8-12 hours that our bodies are going un-nourished. The first thing we feel when we wake up in the morning is lightheadedness. This is because the glucose that supplies our brains with energy is really low, and it is in dire need of more for proper function throughout the day. This is why carbs are very needed in the morning. Think about a typical healthy breakfast, I’ll help you out a little: a bowl of Cheerios and milk, a fruit plate with some yogurt and granola, bread and eggs, oatmeal. All of these are common breakfasts found around the world, and all of them have a large carbohydrate component.
But in each of these common breakfasts, there is more than just carbohydrates, and this brings me to our second goal.
Goal #2: Keeping blood sugar stable after a fast will ensure that you don’t reach a sugar crash later on in the evening. Like all things that rise, it must come down. When blood sugar spikes, the decrease is usually extreme and actually causes the body to crave more sugars and carbs. This is why the carbs we choose to eat should generally be complex carbs, and should be accompanied by some natural blood sugar stabilizers like protein and fat. A complex carb is better because it has a fibrous layer that allows the body to digest the sugar overtime instead of quickly digest and crash. And in the same way that the fiber in complex carbs allow a slower digestion time, so do protein and healthy fats. This is why a typical morning breakfast includes eggs with the bread, or milk with the Cheerios, or yogurt with the fruit. See the pattern? A “break” fast both in the morning after a night of not eating, and post fast, should be a balanced meal.
Often post fast meals are loaded with all the yummy indulgent carbs that we dream about while we are fasting. Do you know why these are the foods you crave? Because fasting naturally puts our bodies at low blood sugar levels, at the bottom of a sugar crash of sorts, and thats when our body craves more sugar! But to exit this cycle of craving sugary foods, we just need to nourish the body with food that will satisfy the body instead of leaving it in need of more energy.
I’m not telling you to skip out on your cinnamon bun, but I am telling you to FIRST have a balanced meal and only then have your cinnamon bun! This way your body is satisfied and nourished with the food you break the fast with, and may not even WANT to finish the entire cinnamon bun. But even more importantly, the balanced meal that you get in beforehand will allow the digestion process to be slow and regulate the blood sugar levels properly when you do have that cinnamon bun.
So here’s a few ideas of how to get in a balanced post fast meal. Then afterwards, have whatever yummy treat you chose to make during the fast. You just made it through the fast, so you deserve it!
- spelt pasta, or another whole grain variation with some sautéed broccoli, mushrooms topped with cheese of your choice
- omelets/scrambles eggs or even shakshuka with a hearty whole grain bread (even better, make it sourdough!)
- split pea or mushroom soup topped with high protein plain yogurt and whole grain bread
- salmon or tuna patties with a side of brown rice and some roasted cauliflower
These are just a few ideas of balanced, healthy and hearty meals, but the options are really endless! Healthy and balanced definitely still leaves room for delicious!
Happy eating peeps