Fasting 101 – Dos and Don’ts – The Day Before The Fast

Yom Kippur Shofar

The day before . . .

  • Hydrate! I cannot emphasize this enough! Drink as much water as possible before the fast. Although you may feel you’re about to float away, it will be worth it by the time the fast is well underway. Beware of caffeinated beverages, beer or other alcoholic beverages; they will only dehydrate you. Water or diluted fruit juices are the safest options.
  • Don’t over-stuff yourself before the fast. For some reason, 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. You are not a chipmunk! You cannot stuff your cheeks with food for later! 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. 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.
  • Avoid salty or spicy foods. Salt causes a person to feel thirsty despite having a “normal” amount of water, because extra water is required to absorb the extra salt. For this reason, you should refrain from processed foods containing lots of salt, such as pickles or cold cuts. Most tomato sauces, canned fish and smoked fish should also be avoided.
  • Salads and other high-fibre foods that are so important in one’s normal diet should be de-emphasized for the pre-fast meal, since they travel quickly through the digestive system. Fruit, despite its high fibre content, is worthwhile, since it carries a lot of water in a “time-release” form.

Tomorrow: What to do the day of the fast!

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