Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Seven tips for Yom Kippur fasting

HAIFA, Israel—Just weeks before millions of Jews around the world begin fasting for the Yom Kippur holiday, Rambam Health Care Campus’ Director of Geriatrics Tzvi Dwolatzky, M.D. is cautioning Jews around the world to carefully prepare before fasting, warning that without proper preparation, people increase their chances of falling ill as a result of the fast.

“There is a marked difference between the intended feeling of being uncomfortable with not eating or drinking for 25 hours and actually becoming ill as a result of not getting enough liquids and nutrients,” said Dwolatzky. “Yom Kippur not only requires emotional preparation, but physical as well. A person can take several important steps before the holiday in order to achieve the best physical condition possible to perform better on Yom Kippur.”

Dwolatzky offers seven tips to prepare you for an easy fast:

1. Ask your physician if your health allows you to fast: Many chronic medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease or arthritis, do not usually prevent you from fasting, as long as your condition is stable. This is usually the case for pregnant and nursing mothers as well. Clearly an acute illness accompanied by fever, vomiting or diarrhea will prevent you from fasting. Before going any further, you should check with your doctor whether your health allows you to fast.

2. Prepare early: At least a week before the fast you should cut down on the daily amount of coffee and caffeinated beverages that you drink. Also, take it easy with salty foods. Keep away from alcohol because it stimulates the loss of body water. The use of artificial sweeteners should also be kept to a minimum.

3. Drink a lot of liquids, but don’t overdo it: It is very important to be well hydrated before the fast. For at least two days before the fast make sure to drink adequate amounts of fluids. Remember that the healthiest thing to drink is water. Keep a bottle of water with you and note how much you drink—about half a gallon is generally sufficient. But don’t overdo it. Drinking too much can wash out essential salts from your body.

4. Eat regular meals before the fast: It is important to get your body into a routine before the fast. Make sure to eat regular meals on the days before the fast. And don’t skip breakfast, which is probably the most important meal of the day. Keep away from very rich and spicy foods. And eat in moderation.

5. Take it easy before and during the fast: On the day before the fast you should refrain from strenuous physical exercise. Don’t run around too much doing chores—spoil yourself and take it easy. Keep out of the hot sun and spend the day in cool surroundings as much as possible. This is certainly true with regard to the day of the fast as well.

6. Have a light meal before the fast: When sitting down to the meal before the fast, a light meal is preferable. Eating extra amounts of food does not help to keep you going for 24 hours. Rather eat small amounts of carbohydrates (bread, potato, rice, pasta), some protein (fish, chicken) and fruit (grapes and watermelon). Keep spices and salt to a minimum.

7. You did it! The break fast meal: Well, you managed the fast very well, now it is time to eat. Go slow! Eat some carbs and drink some fluids.


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