Fasting not only requires emotional preparation, but of course physical as well. For many of us the fasting element of the holiday can be very difficult. The most common issues that people face include hunger pains, headaches and shakiness. Don’t worry! This blog will give you the tools to overcome these issues and be able to have a meaningful fast. So, it’s very important that we take several important steps before the upcoming fast in order to be in the best physical as well as emotional place.
For a few days leading up to the fast, eat normal sized portions at every meal. Eat slower than usual to be able to gauge if you are really hungry or just eating to eat. It takes some time for your mind and body to signal that you are full.
Withdrawal from caffeine can cause unfortunate headaches, so begin cutting down on your consumption at least a few days before the fast. At the start, days 1-3 start drinking less regular coffee, by days 4-6, you should be able to start to drink half regular and half decaf, slowly working up to a full cup of only decaf. On day 7 (or the day before the fast), DO NOT DRINK ANY CAFFINE AT ALL COSTS! Trust me as a coffee addict this seems almost impossible but you can do it. Try to replace your routine, first morning, you can’t live without cup, with a decaf cup of tea.
We all already know all about salt, so let’s not even get into that. However, it is important to keep in mind that foods with high salt cause our bodies to retain extra water. So what does that mean for an upcoming fast? Salt also makes you very thirsty, which will just make fasting harder. So here’s what to do. Cut down on all processed foods and other salty foods.
In this country we know that we need to drink all of the time. We all regularly carry water bottles around with us, so this is not a foreign idea to those of us that live in Israel. Either way the key to an easier fast is to- hydrate. Staring around 24 hours before the fast, drink about one cup of water every hour or so. Throughout the day, continue to keep upping your fluid intake. This will help ensure that you’ve absorbed enough fluids during the day to start the fast well.
Today is your day! You can forget your carb intake worries and just go for it. Consuming carbohydrates (e.g., potatoes, pasta) will be very effective, as they bond with water that your body will make use of during the fast. Whole grain foods provide fiber and lasting energy, as they are broken down slower than simple carbohydrates (like what rice and pasta). Complex carbs also help fight off hypoglycemia by stabilizing one’s blood sugar.
It’s so tempting to overeat at the pre fast meal, but, it actually makes fasting harder. Overeating can cause an upset stomach and heartburn, which are the last things you want to be dealing with when you’re fasting. So what should you do? Don’t over-stuff yourself before the fast. Many people seem to think that eating a lot the day before will compensate for not eating on the fast day. This will actually make you hungrier. Have you ever noticed how much hungrier you are the morning after a large meal? Eat a proper meal that emphasizes carbohydrates, some protein, and foods high in oils and fats, since they delay the emptying of the stomach, thus prolonging the effects of your pre-fast meal.
Lastly, here are a few more tips that I have found very helpful. The day of the fast it’s important to avoid wearing clothing that will make you perspire. Also try (and it’s difficult!) not to talk about all the food you want to eat after the fast, since this actually causes your body to begin to prepare itself to eat, crazy right! I want to wish you all a very meaningful Nine Days as well as an easy fast.
I look forward to hearing how your fast went—looking forward to hearing back from you on Facebook.