The Mighty Logo

Why I Didn't Fast This Yom Kippur

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

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.

Originally published: October 16, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home