Navigating Eating Disorder Recovery During Yom Kippur


This post was written by Kate Rosenblatt MA, LPC, MHC. Kate is the Clinical Director at BALANCE eating disorder treatment center in NYC, who is one of our treatment center sponsors. She believes that a full recovery is possible, and dedicates herself to creating a culture of increased health literacy and preventive wellness. Prior to joining BALANCE, Kate served as a Clinical Therapist with Walden Behavioral Care, where she worked extensively within clients in the partial hospitalization programs and the intensive outpatient programs. She has trained in CBT with The Beck Institute, and is a proud member of IADEP. Outside of BALANCE, you can find Kate working on everbliss, a HIPAA-secure video conferencing app for therapists. yomkippur

Ever marveled at that person in your life who seems to oh so successfully navigate the High Holidays and his/her eating disorder recovery? As the Clinical Director at BALANCE eating disorder treatment center in NYC, I was curious to find out just how they do it. So with the upcoming Yom Kippur holiday - if this is something you want for yourself, read on for some helpful advice from people who know.

Recommendations from Rabbis

Are you thinking of fasting in observance of Yom Kippur? In speaking with several NYC-based rabbis, they all agree that you must consult your health care professionals if your health is at high risk and you are thinking of fasting. There is a dispensation in Jewish law that says if your health is at high risk, you are obligated to break the law.

Just think about it this way: if you observe the Sabbath by not driving, but you get sick and need to go to see a doctor on a Saturday, would you not get in your car and see your medical provider, stat? Rabbi Ezra Cohen of Manhattan Jewish Experience says this of the Sabbath analogy: “it is better to keep many sabbaths than just one.” And as it relates to the thought of fasting on Yom Kippur if you are sick, Rabbi Cohen goes on to say: “What’s of utmost importance is maintaining your existence and your health… life over law.”

Recommendations from Registered Dietitians

As a Registered Dietitian, Melainie Rogers, MS, RDN, CDN, CEDRD, Founder and Executive Director of BALANCE, invites her clients to ask themselves: “what is the true motivation to fast?” This introspective inquiry, which is central to the reflective nature of the High Holidays, prompts us to discern whether the desire to fast is grounded in religion or in the eating disorder. When you have your answer, you can then work with your dietitian to create a meal and snack plan for Yom Kippur. Just be sure to surround yourself with people who support this plan! This is a beautiful opportunity to fuel your recovery, and not feed your eating disorder thoughts.

Recommendations from fellow Recovery Warriors

Speaking with people currently in recovery from an eating disorder had these two recovery recommendations to share when navigating the High Holidays: First, remember that we only get so many holidays. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur come around once a year, and they are some of the most beautiful moments for reflection. Please do not let the magic of this holiday pass you by because you are stuck in your eating disorder thoughts. And second, if it feels supportive, head to synagogue with someone who can be there for you. Really use your skills, like check the facts and pros/cons, and let your loved ones know how they can best support you during Yom Kippur.