Why I Didn't Fast This Yom Kippur

The holiest day of the year for the Jewish people is Yom Kippur. A day of atonement. A day to confess our sins to the Almighty. A day to really think about where you hope to be next year. A day that is supposed to be a 25-hour fast.

That’s right. No food or water from sunset to sunset. For most people, this is pretty hard, but not for me. Not for a lot of people with eating disorders. Fasting for me is not a holy act of refusing physicality. Fasting is an act of betrayal to my body and love for my brain. My stomach might hurt and I might feel faint. Yet, by the end, my mind is euphoric. It’s like an internal high.

For me, fasting isn’t holy. It’s practically sacrilegious. Every year, I’ve had the same conversation with my therapist. She asks if I’m going to fast. I say yes. She tries to tell me not to. I do it anyway. Then, somewhere down the line, I realize I never really stop fasting.

This year, I decided to get rabbis involved and see what they think. After all, most rabbis say if you can fast, then you should. Believe me, I can fast. I can fast and run a marathon. So, after much online research, I called Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, a prominent Rabbi who deals with a lot of people with eating disorders.

News flash: He told me not to fast.

This totally threw off my plan. I figured he would tell me to fast and then my treatment team would have to leave me alone. But no. Since he told me I’m not allowed to fast, it was as good as Jewish law I couldn’t fast.

Yom Kippur was last week, and for only the second time since I can remember, I didn’t fast. The other time I was in treatment. So, it was weird. It felt like something was wrong.

I didn’t fast, but I also didn’t eat what I should have. So I’m not sure exactly where that leaves me. I think it probably leaves me somewhere pretty great mentally. I didn’t fast so I can’t keep fasting.

Maybe that was what needed to happen to make this year different. A bad day doesn’t mean a bad life. Stay strong.


Image via Thinkstock.

This post originally appeared on Rediscovering Aria.

 If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Eating Disorders

woman laying on a deck, reading a magazine and eating a snack

When I Started Viewing My Eating Disorder as an Addiction

The first time I ever sought outside help for my eating disorder, I was 17 and attended an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. It didn’t sit well with me. I never went back, and I became skeptical of 12-step programs in general. As I got older, I encountered friends who were members of Alcoholics Anonymous, and I [...]
close up of a woman's mouth

When My Eating Disorder Took Away My Voice

When I lost my voice, I found a new voice. I now refer to this voice as my unhealthy self. This voice taught me to speak with my body and food. At 13, nothing touched my mouth except water for three full days. For the next couple of years, I only ate “safe” foods. I [...]
a young woman looking at herself in a cracked mirror

To Myself on Days When I Want to Return to My Eating Disorder

Hey. What’s going on, bud? I can see you’re freaking out a bit. You’re stressed. You’re hurt. You’re confused. You’re questioning your worth and your path. And I know why your eating disorder is appealing now. It numbs you; it makes you feel less afraid. But will it actually cure the issues in your life [...]
a college of girl holding signs about recovery

5 Things Anyone Who's Afraid of Eating Disorder Recovery Should Know

I am committed to helping people fully recover from eating disorders. As the co-founder and co-director of Project HEAL, I spend my days ensuring that more people have access to life-saving treatment, and spreading hope that recovery is possible.  I created this list because when I was in treatment, I really lacked hope. And the few [...]