Dietitians advise: Start preparing body for fast now

Start reducing consumption of caffeine-laden drinks to avoid withdrawal headaches.

September 26, 2006 21:40
2 minute read.
Yom Kippur, a woman praying 58

yom kippur woman 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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If you're preparing yourself spiritually for the Yom Kippur fast but drink three cups of coffee, cola or other caffeine-laden drinks a day, you should already start reducing their consumption to avoid withdrawal headaches during the fast. It's also advisable for everyone to drink more than the usual amount of water - about 12 or 13 glasses - during the 24 hours before the fast, which begins Sunday evening. Dietitians also recommend avoiding salty and fried foods the day before the fast. The ideal menu for a noontime meal on the eve of the fast would be fish, consomme with noodles or soup nuts, a small portion of meat or chicken and a side dish of complex carbohydrates (such as pasta, potatoes, couscous, corn, rice, pulses and bread, preferably whole wheat). The recommended pre-fast meal includes complex carbohydrates, some protein, a bit of fatty food to promote satiety, a small salad or vegetable and cooked fruit, but nothing very sweet, which triggers thirst, or carbonated, which fills the stomach with gas. Do not overeat. Be careful not to give young children fish that has bones, which can get stuck in their throats. After the fast, one should drink something and then eat solids gradually, so as not to shock the digestive system. Forty-five minutes to an hour afterwards, one can eat a balanced meal with protein, carbohydrates and vegetables. Don't overeat in an attempt to make up for what you missed during the fast. Patients with chronic disorders such as heart disease, diabetes, ulcers and hypertension and those who take medications regularly should consult with their physicians before deciding whether to fast. Patients with high blood pressure who take diuretics should be especially careful to ask their doctors what to do, as these medications remove water from the body. Cancer patients who are undergoing therapy should not fast without approval from their physicians, as they need lots of liquids to alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy. Magen David Adom reminds the public that on Yom Kippur, an average of 200 children riding bicycles, roller blades, skates and skateboards in near-empty streets are injured. This is five times the usual accident rate for 24 hours. Children should be supervised and wear helmets, as well as knee and elbow protectors. If they go out at night, they must wear light clothing and have reflective tapes on their bikes. Anyone who feels general weakness, chest pains, increased sweating or difficulty breathing during the fast should immediately call MDA at 101. Meanwhile, the Conservative (Masorati) and Reform movements in Israel and Israel Transplant are holding an inaugural information campaign after the fast to encourage Israelis to register as potential organ donors. Stands for signing ADI cards will be set up outside their synagogues, and the campaign will continue during Succot. More than 1,000 Israelis are waiting for an organ donation to save their lives. "On the day we ask God to sign us up for a year of good life, we should be willing to sign up for giving others new life after we die," said Prof. Rabbi David Golinkin, president of the (Masorati) Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. "The fast and prayer are not the main thing; they prepare us for doing justice and good deeds, and there is no more appropriate deed than to raise the awareness of Israelis about their ability to save the lives of others."

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