Tuesday Tip: Start Preparing Now to Ensure an Easy Fast on Yom Kippur
By Yehudit Garmaise
After much trial and error, most of us realize we can considerably lower the difficulty of fasting on Yom Kippur by preparing early.
First, ensure you are not both hungry and going through caffeine withdrawal on Yom Kippur.
To do this, start cutting back on caffeine intake now. Honestly, add the number of cups of tea, coffee, soda, iced coffee, and hot chocolate you might have on a typical day, and start gradually cutting down.
While drinking decaf or herbal iced tea for a few days might not help you focus the way coffee does, the sacrifice will be worth it when you are not blinded by a caffeine-withdrawal headache before Yom Kippur morning brachos.
Additionally, increase fluid intake beginning now to be well-hydrated by the fast. Start replacing all sugary and caffeine drinks with water. Dehydration causes headaches as terrible as caffeine withdrawal, so aim to drink at least eight full glasses of water every day until Erev Yom Kippur.
For snacking and meals this week, add produce with the highest content of water, such as green and red grapes, cucumber, oranges, apples, blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, and tomatoes to keep your body well-hydrated. Mushrooms with a high water content could be part of a mushroom barley or minestrone soup, and cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers could be tossed into salads.
For your pre-fast meal, plan on eating a meal balanced with protein, whole grains, and healthy fats to keep you satiated for longer. Protein can include roast chicken, turkey, lean meat, salmon, and legumes. Whole grains have fiber and are minimally processed, such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa, barley, corn, and butternut squash. Add a small side of heart-healthy fats like avocado, extra virgin olive oil, and seeds. As with any meal, be sure to include some non-starchy fibrous vegetables to ramp up your fullness, such as leafy greens, zucchini, eggplant, and peppers.
It's best to avoid overly processed starches and sugars, like too much challah, sweet kugels, and desserts. This is because processed starches get digested more rapidly by the body, meaning you will feel hungry sooner. These foods cause a surge in insulin production, which lowers a person's blood sugar, leading to a 'sugar crash' and a lack of energy. Likewise, very rich, salty, or spicy foods can create intense thirst and can be hard to digest.
Although it might seem tempting to overeat, many fasters report that they fast better when they eat a normal dinner before a fast. Simplify your food choices on the day before Yom Kippur, which is not the time to try something new and exotic.