Watchman’s Adventure: preparing for Yom Kippur Fast

 The watchman learned from last year’s experience that the most difficult part is not drinking water. He can stand the not eating part but needs to really fortify against dehydration. He is one of those who do not take much plain water. So the tips here are very relevant to him.

Here is a number of useful excerpts from various sources on how to prepare for this year’s Yom Kippur Fasting.

Tips for Yom Kippur Fasting Don’t make it any more difficult than it has to be; fasting is easier if you prepare your body in advance; there are things you can do to ease your fast after it has started. Above all, set goals before you start. Why do you want to fast? What motivates you to do so?

One of the primary and best-known observances of Yom Kippur is fasting. The purpose of fasting is to “afflict your soul,” a means of repenting. For some people, fasting is easy; for others, it is more difficult. But there is no particular merit in making this fast any more difficult than it has to be. Here are a few tips that have helped in the past.

Everybody’s body is different, and everybody reacts differently to fasting. These tips may or may not work for you. Above all else, you should listen to your own body and do those things that tend to make you less hungry while avoiding things that tend to make you more hungry.

A Week Before Yom Kippur: You can ease your fast by preparing your body about a week before the fast.

Taper Off Addictive or Habitual Substances

Starting on the day after Rosh Hashanah, taper off of the following:

  • Coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages
  • Refined sugar and candy, especially chocolate
  • Cigarettes, cigars and pipes
  • Anything else that you eat habitually or compulsively, that you long for when you can’t have it

Sudden deprivation of any of the above can cause withdrawal symptoms that will make it harder to fast. If you taper off of these things about a week before the fast, you will find that your withdrawal symptoms are not as severe.

Vary Your Meal Schedule

Keep in mind that for most well-fed Americans (and others for that matter), the “hunger” that you feel at meal times is simply a result of your body preparing itself to receive food at the expected time. If you always eat lunch at precisely 12:30 and dinner at precisely 6 PM, your body will start preparing to digest at those times. That is what most people think of as “hunger.” If you vary your meal schedule, you will find that it eases your feelings of hunger at meal times.

Drink Plenty of Water

The need for water is much greater than the need for food (as the watchman has found out personally last year’s Yom Kippur) and if you are like most Americans, you don’t drink enough water under ordinary circumstances. During the last few days before Yom Kippur, make sure you drink plenty of water, so you do not risk becoming dehydrated during your fast.

The Meal Before 

Your last meal before Yom Kippur should be chosen carefully.

Don’t Overeat

Some people seem to think that they can “make up for” not eating on Yom Kippur by having a big meal the night before. This is a very bad idea, and actually makes it harder to fast. Have you ever noticed how you feel particularly hungry the morning after a large meal? Eat a normal sized meal.

Eat Foods That Are Easy To Digest

Don’t eat anything that will sit in your stomach like a rock, give you heartburn or leave you feeling hungry. Think of foods that don’t leave you feeling hungry the morning after.

Get Plenty of Protein and Complex Carbohydrates

These are the foods that will stick with you during the next day and give you the long-term energy you need.

During Yom Kippur 

Even after the fast has started, there are things you can do to ease your fast.

Go to a place of worship/prayer Aside from the fact that you’re supposed to be there praying and repenting anyway, this will actually make it easier to fast. Being with people who are also fasting, will make it easier for you to fast. Most importantly you will find that when you focus on the matters of God, your spiritual man rises and your body’s craving subsides. Live by the Spirit and not the flesh! The watchman has found that the presence of God makes him forget about food and the Bible verse “man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” is real!

Don’t Talk About Food or Hunger

Talking about your hunger will only focus your attention on it and make it harder to fast. Don’t talk about or think about what you are going to eat after the fast. You should also avoid being around people who are talking about these things. Be with people who are spiritual and Spirit-led.

Take a Nap in the Afternoon

During the break between services in the afternoon. Have you ever noticed that full feeling that you have when you wake up from an afternoon nap? Do not exert yourselves much physically. For those who do not nap, reading God’s Word and meditating on His Word as led by the Holy Spirit will refresh you.


Two Weeks Before the Fast: Kick Your Bad Habits

Caffeine: For caffeine addicts, going without any caffeine on Yom Kippur can make the fast particularly challenging. Caffeine is technically an addictive drug, causing a chemical dependency that can trigger unpleasant withdrawal symptoms (headaches, fatigue, nausea, poor-motor skills, irritability, inability to concentrate, etc.) that compound the ordinary physical challenges of fasting. If you have a caffeine habit, it is best to prepare yourself for a caffeine free Yom Kippur several weeks in advance. Beginning at least two weeks before the holiday slowly reduce your caffeine consumption with the goal of stopping your caffeine intake 3-4 days before Yom Kippur. If you drink two cups of coffee a day, start by reducing this to one cup, then after a few days switch to half-caffeine before switching to decaf. This way you’ll experience the withdrawal more gradually and hopefully be through the worst withdrawal symptoms before the actual day. Be sure to drink plenty of water during this time and get extra rest if you need to. You may even consider quitting altogether after the fast to avoid this problem in the future.

Fatty/Sugary/Salty Foods: Generally these are the foods people crave during a fast, by reducing or eliminating these types of foods in the weeks before you’ll help to reduce cravings during the fast.

Hydrate: While a healthy adult can generally survive for weeks without food, dehydration can set in within a few days. It’s no surprise then that most of the discomfort of fasting is caused by lack of water not the lack of food. To help reduce the effects of dehydration during a fast it is critical to properly hydrate beforehand. Most of us do not drink enough water in our normal day-to-day routines, so it is even more critical to begin hydrating in the week before the fast. Generally an adult at rest should be drinking about half their body weight in ounces of water per day (i.e. A 150 lb. man should be getting 75 ounces of water per day, or about 9.5 cups of water). The best source for hydration is water, though fluids can be obtained from a variety of sources. Beware caffeinated beverages and soft drinks though, caffeine actually causes your body to use more water, and so caffeinated beverages and soft drinks do not have the same hydrating power as an equivalent amount of water and can actually contribute to dehydration.

Prescription Medication: Should you fast If you take any prescription medications (or have any health conditions that fasting may impact or worsen)? You would need to ask your doctor for answers.

Day before the Fast: Final Preparation

Stay On Target: All of the steps taken to prepare in the week or two leading up to the fast should still be followed the day before:

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and salty foods that will worsen the effects of not drinking and contribute to dehydration.
  • Drink sufficient water. Stocking up on extra water will help stave off the effects of dehydration during the fast.

Eat Normal Sized Meals: While being well hydrated will help stave off the effects of dehydration, over eating will not stave off the effects of hunger and may make you more uncomfortable. The excess fluids needed for your body to process large meals may also lead to dehydration.

Focus on Complex Carbs: Complex carbohydrates like those found in pasta, breads, rice, fruits, vegetables, and beans (legumes) are best for maintaining your body’s muscle energy levels during the fast. This is why runners stock up on pasta the night before a marathon, but your body will get a similar benefit prior to a fast. In addition carbohydrates help your body absorb water more efficiently, so eating carbs will aid in staying hydrated during the fast. Proteins and fats do not have this same hydration benefit. Whole-grain products and fruits/vegetables that are high in fiber are best, as these will not only provide energy but are slower to digest and will keep you feeling fuller the longest.

Yom Kippur Pre-Fast Menus and Recipes

Meal of Cessation
Jews traditionally eat a Meal of Cessation – called Seudat Mafseket – before the Yom Kippur fast. A family may eat a meat meal for lunch, and then eat a hi-carb dairy dinner directly before the fast. The meat menu includes low-salt vegetable soup, breaded chicken, potatoes and dessert. The dairy menu includes egg souffle, whole wheat bagels with various spreads and fruit salad.

Yom Kippur Post-Fast Menu and Recipes

At the end of Yom Kippur, Jews traditionally share a joyful Break Fast meal with family and friends. The Yom Kippur Break Fast is generally a festive breakfast menu consisting of foods such as eggs, cheese, bread.

________________Lastly, be watchful and prayerful. Continue to stay in the presence of the Lord.

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