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Yom Kippur Fasting Tips

Chabad.org

As Yom Kippur rapidly approaches, our thoughts and consciousness turn to prayer and repentance, along with the daunting task of a 25-hour abstention from all food and drink. Yom Kippur is the one and only fast day commanded in the Torah which clearly indicates that the fasting itself is a most essential and required part of its observance. A fast of such length is no easy trip for anyone, but there are a number of tips and suggestions that can ease the fast-related hunger.

The day before ….

• Hydrate! Most of the unpleasantness associated with a fast does not come from lack of food, but rather, lack of fluid. The solution is to drink as much water as possible before the fast. Although you may feel you’re about to float off, it will be worth it by the time the fast is well underway. Beware of beer or other alcoholic beverages; they will only dehydrate you. Water or diluted orange juices are the safest options.

• Don’t stuff yourself before the fast. Many people seem to think that eating a lot the day before will compensate for not eating on Yom Kippur. This will actually make you hungrier. Have you ever noticed how much hungrier you are the morning after a large meal…..?

• Eat a normal-sized meal that emphasizes carbohydrates, some protein and foods high in oils and fats since they delay the emptying of the stomach, thus prolonging your last meal. Consuming carbohydrates (i.e. 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, cold cuts, or cheese. Most tomato sauces, canned fish and smoked fish should also be avoided.

• Salads and other high fiber 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 fiber content, is worthwhile since it carries a lot of water in a “time-release” form.

The day of…

• Avoid wearing clothing that will make you perspire as this will cause your body to lose water.
• Try [and it is difficult!] not to talk or think about the food you’ll eat after the fast, as this will cause your body to begin preparing itself for a meal.
• Take an afternoon nap between prayer services. This will pass some time and some people also experience a feeling of fullness after a short nap.
• According to a number of people, sniffing spices helps ease the hunger.

Post-fast…

Now comes the easy part that most of us will have little trouble with! However, there are a few pointers to keep in mind so as not to shock your body back into eating-mode.

• Be sure not to eat food too quickly at the post-fast meal. Begin the break-fast meal with a drink of milk or juice: this puts sugar into the bloodstream and occupies space in the stomach, discouraging you from eating too rapidly.
• Begin with eating a simple food, such as a piece of honey cake or crackers. It is advisable to wait some time before sitting down for a full meal in order to give your body a chance to begin digesting foods again. I imagine most people are willing to run the risk of a stomach-ache by eating without delay, but it is still a good idea to keep in mind, even if you only postpone your meal by a few minutes.
• Drink lots of water and avoid salty foods since you will still be a little dehydrated and need to replace your fluids.
• Many people vote for a dairy meal (i.e. cream cheese and bagels) as it is lighter on the system.
• Avoid gorging yourself. The body protects itself from starvation when you are fasting by slowing down the rate at which it burns food. Therefore, the calories you consume right after a fast will stay with you a lot longer than those acquired on a normal basis.

Wishing you an easy fast and a good year!

34 Comments

  • 1. Die hard fan wrote:

    thank you! much apprecitated, and good advice!
    (btw i heard that carbs arent too good, protien is better, since carbs have glucose which break down very quickly, leaving you full right away, but hunrgy not soon after, while protiens will sit for longer….thats what i heard adn my stomach has agreed!)

  • 3. thanks for the tips wrote:

    Correct me if I am wrong… In the post fast section, you write about having a dairy meal… Aren’t you supposed to have a real Seudah Motzei Y"K that consists of meat?

    Thanks for this wonderful guide! Keep up your wonderful website!

  • 4. TzomKal wrote:

    And a couple more things…if you can stay away from all forms of sugar the day before the fast you will find it much easier to fast. Your blood sugar levels will be more steady and you are less likely to experience hypoglycemic symptoms that are typical when fasting: weakness, light-headedness, headaches and severe hunger pangs that result from your drop in blood sugar levels. Keeping off of caffeine for 48 hours before a fast also makes the fast easier, since you won’t suffer symptoms of caffeine withdrawal: shaking, jittery nerves, headache, lack of energy. (True, you may experience these things in the days you are weaning yourself off of caffeine, but if you do it BEFORE a fast day, you can eat and take painkillers to make the symptoms more bearable.) For those still addicted to caffeine, there’s always caffeine suppositiories. Also, there is an herbal supplement from Israel called "TzomKal" or "EasyFast" that is available at some pharmacies. It is said to be pretty helpful too. Have an easy and meaningful fast!

  • 6. ahavas yisroel wrote:

    may we all have an easy fast and a gmar chasima tova. Shana tova to all :))

  • 9. smirnoff wrote:

    thank you for the tips remember also to go into the fast drunk it helps you be lebedik

  • 10. Orange juice after the fast wrote:

    many people get stomach aches after the fast. this is probably becouse of the orange juice which so many of us use for our break fast, which for some how leaves our empty system with a ton of acid. trapicana has a brand claiming "low acid", or you could have the juice with Tums or calcium. if you dont have those, you could even use a drop of baking soda into the OJ, whose base PH will neutralize its acid.

  • 11. Qestion wrote:

    Whats this business "have a nap"?

    If on RH you’re not suppose to nap how much more so on YK……

  • 12. cream cheese? wrote:

    i think that bagels with cream cheese is the worst for after the fast. the sugary dough sits heavy in the stomach with the wheight of a stone.

  • 15. Shmuli wrote:

    I feel bad writing an objection; its the first time, for me, that I’ve seen so many comments and there all good comments. It’s good sign, I smell a good year ahead of us. Perhaps some shalom, peace at a time when it seems all is lost.

    You suggest not to eat too much before the fast, however, there is a mitzvah to double your consuption on erev yom kippur. So I think part [the second paragraph] is a no go-er.

  • 17. gmar tov wrote:

    thank you so much. this info is so helpful. as i was reading this article, i stood up to go get a bottle of water! yasher koach. gmar chasima tova to everyone and an easy fast!

  • 19. head wrote:

    its all in the head

    DO AS YOU WISH BEFORE DURING & AFTER

    have a easy fast

  • 20. IMPORTANT wrote:

    one very important tip for b/4 the fast…….
    EAT A WHOLE SPOON OF HONEY B/4 THE FAST,
    IM TELLING YOU IT HELPS SO MUCH.
    I TRIED IT ON TISHA B’UV AND I WAS NEVER TIRED , WEEK, OR HUNGRY.
    it helped so much
    BTW i tried the fasting pills and it just makes you tired and very week. i wasnt able to go to shul for mincha and neila.

  • 21. nuch a klutz wrote:

    cant you just be happy that thay are giving you tips stop being so ignorent
    you pepole are so sad!!!

    p.s to the one abt the no cream cheese
    b4 yom tov thay where saying to eat it after the fast ….. easy fast..

  • 22. l.s.d.f. wrote:

    thank you so much! good advice on the nap- many women in the community go home in between and sleep, they need it!

  • 23. Itzik_s wrote:

    I had two bottles of non-alcoholic malt beer (cheap Vitarroz stuff from Associated) before Tisha B’Av and it really helped.

    Let Moshiach come before 6.21 today so that we’ll be eating shor habor and livyason instead of worrying about all this!

  • 28. bochor in tucson wrote:

    thanks for the advice, g’mar chasima tova to all and a good and easy fast!!!

  • 29. An LB Housewife! wrote:

    In Long Beach California, there is a new rage,, we suck on pedialyte pops the day before the fast,, I became a believer when my husband had no problem fasting on tisha b’av, and generally is a horrible faster. I wish everyone, a gmar chasimah tova,, a gut gebentched yohr with only simchas, nachas, and Moshiach. May we erase and eradicate any machlokes in our communities!

  • 30. Yossel wrote:

    B"H

    Here’s a fantastic tip that most people may not be aware of…Tylenol Suppositories! Available with or without caffeine, you can kiss the headache, weakness, and caffeine withdrawal symptoms goodbye. I’ve used it for several years and now all the fasts are tolarable bli eyn hora. The only symptom I experience is a little hunger, but that’s about it.

    It’s worth any inconvenience that you have to go to to take the medicine. IT WORKS!!!

    Best wishes for a good year for all Yidden, and Moshiach Now!…Yossel

  • 32. ben wrote:

    hey BH its over and we sure hope that we worked our way for A really happy year with lots of love to all our jewish brothers and sisters and to all of mankind and to every thing in this beutifull world G-D has created and when you feel down remember the good times are ahead of us

  • 33. Read this wrote:

    hey everyone, YOU gotta try this!
    Before the fast, drink a cup of Pedialyte (available in Apple Drugs and Crown Cosmetics) it is created for babies with diarrehea to quickly hydrate them using electrolytes. Electrolytes are also found in power drinks like Powerade. Despite the big words it is not a dangerous chemical that will hurt you; it is a miracle that will save you and you will never have another terrible fast again!! I promise B"N!! i gotta admit, though, Pedialyte is absolutely GROSS, so mix it with juice or soda to make it more palatable. And spread the good news!

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