Start preparing now for the Yom Kippur fast

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

Woman drinking water 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Woman drinking water 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
With a forecast for pleasant temperatures on Yom Kippur on Shabbat, the 25-hour fast 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.
Magen David Adom is preparing for a high alert for Yom Kippur, with hundreds of medics and paramedics – paid and volunteer – on duty to treat people who feel unwell in synagogues and elsewhere.
Some of them will be equipped with semi-automatic defibrillators for treating people with cardiac arrest. Every year, the emergency first-aid and ambulance service receives calls from about 2,000 people who need help during the fast. It called on the public not to interfere with ambulances traveling on the holy day.
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MDA also urged parents to supervise children riding on bicycles, rollerblades, skates and skateboards so they do not risk being hit by a vehicle or falling in near-empty streets. About 200 are injured by passing vehicles each Rosh Hashana 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.
Call 101 in a medical emergency.
Blood donors are asked to give, as blood supplies always decline during the holidays when people are away from their routines.
Those who take drugs for chronic conditions should not stop for the 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.
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 protein (such as eggs, fish, chicken and tuna), sources of sugar (such as breads and pasta) and vegetables.
The last meal before the fast should include “slow-release” complex carbohydrates, such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, pasta, potatoes, couscous, corn, whole-grained 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.
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