As we approach Yom Kippur, the challenge of fasting from sunset to sunset is likely on your mind, especially if you recently converted to Judaism. While fasting can be challenging, it's also incredibly spiritually rewarding.
Whether this is your first fast or your fiftieth, here are some tips to make sure you have a tzom kal
Start cutting back on caffeine.
- Fasting means no coffee, and for many of us, no coffee means a major headache. Start cutting back in advance so you can minimize your withdrawal symptoms.
- On the days preceding Yom Kippur, drink plenty of water. While you will undoubtedly still feel dehydrated later in the day, you want to give yourself a head start. Also, avoid heavily salted foods, as this may make your thirstier down the line.
- Fasting is meant to be a challenge. It’s meant to be uncomfortable. But if you are spending all day at services, there’s no reason for your outfit to be uncomfortable too. Dress in layers so you can adjust throughout the day. Your body may react strangely to fasting, which means fluctuating body temperatures.
- It’s easy to assume that the best way to get through fasting is to sedentary. While it’s important not to push yourself, fresh air and *extremely light* exercise can be beneficial. Many congregations have light yoga or stretching sessions throughout the day.
Break your fast right.
- Once fasting is done, your brain might tell you to rush out and eat something dense and high-calorie, but that can be a disaster for your stressed digestive system. Start with fluids, progress to light carbs like challah, and once your body has adjusted, enjoy a delicious meal with friends and family.
Remember, Jewish law prevents people from fasting if it could negatively affect their health. If you’re pregnant, ill, or have any pre-existing condition that makes fasting dangerous, talk to your doctor and rest assured that you are not obligated to fast.