In Judaism, fasting is known to have an important spiritual benefit. It can help us focus on the actual day and the value of it, while freeing us of the physical aspects. However, if someone is a ‘bad faster’, or suffers from severe side effects of fasting, it can distract us from focusing on that day.
There are several ways to prepare ourselves physically for a healthier fast:
- Drink plenty of water a few days before the fast to help prevent dehydration. As sugary drinks can actually cause dehydration, best to drink at least 10 cups of water per day.
- For caffeine addicts, going without any caffeine for 25 hours can make the fast very challenging. Being deprived of caffeine can cause headaches, fatigue and poor concentration. Best to start reducing your caffeine intake about 2 weeks before the fast, with the goal of stopping caffeine 3 days before the fast. If you drink 3 cups of coffee a day, start by reducing this to two cups and then slowly switching to half-caffeine before switching then to decaf.
- Try to avoid sugary snacks and quick-releasing carbohydrates (eg: white bread, cake, cookies) in the week before the fast to help reduce cravings during the fast. Eat complex carbohydrates like whole wheat pasta, basmati rice, quinoa or low sugar fruits. They help the body to absorb water more efficiently, which will keep us hydrated for longer. Whole grain products digest slower and don’t turn into sugar so fast, and they will keep us feeling fuller for longer.
- Very important to keep in mind not to over-stuff. Many people think that eating a lot the day before will compensate for the next day. But it will actually make you hungrier. So keep it all in moderation. However, it is very important to avoid very salty foods which will worsen the dehydration (like salty fish).
- Great choices would be good proteins (eggs, meat, chicken), complex carbohydrates, and low starch vegetables (green beans, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, eggplant and many more).
Here are two recipes I have made that are great options:
We should all have an easy, but very meaningful, fast!