Prep for Yom Kippur fast begins now

Stop drinking coffee, start drinking water.

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September 15, 2010 07:06
3 minute read.
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With a forecast for lower temperatures on Yom Kippur, fasting this Shabbat should be easier, but experts say that heavy coffee, cola, cocoa or non-herbal tea drinkers should decrease their intake now to reduce the risk of headaches from caffeine withdrawal.

All adults and youngsters who plan to fast should drink more water than usual to “fill up their tank” and reduce the risk of dehydration and fainting, they add. But people who have an acute or chronic medical problem, take medications or underwent surgery recently as well as pregnant women should consult with their personal physicians (and rabbis, if they are observant) before Yom Kippur to learn whether they can fast or not.

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Those who take drugs for chronic conditions should not stop for the 25-hour fast without consulting their doctors. Diabetics dependent on insulin should not stop the injections and fast, doctors say, but they can consider drinking and eating less.

Cancer patients who are undergoing therapy should not fast without approval from their physicians, as they require liquids to alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy. Meanwhile, heart patients suffering from atherosclerosis must not fast, according to Assaf Harofeh Medical Center cardiologist Dr. Moshe Horovitz.

Magen David Adom advises drinking eight to 10 glasses of water on the eve of the fast. Children fasting for the first time should especially be careful to carry this out. Experts also suggest avoiding sweet drinks and salty foods as they increase thirst.

Clinical dietitians at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center advise eating a number of small meals on Friday instead of one large meal. These should be well balanced, including some protein (like eggs, fish, chicken and tuna), sources of sugar (like breads and pasta) and some vegetables.

Don’t snack on junk food.

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The last meal before the fast should include “slow-release” complex carbohydrates, such as wholewheat bread, brown rice, pasta, potatoes, couscous, corn, wholegrained rice, sweet potato, cracked wheat and pulses.

MDA urges taking special care when eating fish during the pre-fast meal. Bones can get stuck easily in the trachea, and this can be particularly dangerous to younger children who do not have a well-developed swallowing mechanism.

While fasting, try to avoid too much physical activity and try to stay in a cool, preferably air-conditioned environment. Most nursing women can fast without a problem and should continue to nurse as usual. If they stop feeding or pumping milk, they could suffer inflammation and pain. If during the fast, your blood pressure or blood sugar falls significantly and you feel very weak and dizzy, you may need to drink and/or eat a small amount and then rest until you feel better. If you continue to feel very weak or generally ill, seek immediate medical attention.

Experts agree that the optimal way to end the fast is to drink a couple of glasses of water or a sugared drink.

The first meal of solid food should be a light one. If you are still hungry, wait an hour or two after the light meal. Eating too quickly or too much after a fast can cause abdominal pain and sometimes even vomiting.

Meanwhile, MDA and Beterem urge parents to ensure that children who ride bicycles, rollerblades, skates and skateboards are not in danger in near-empty streets, as about 200 are injured by passing vehicles nevertheless. 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 should wear light-colored clothing and have reflective tapes on their bikes.

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