How to Make Fasting a Breeze
By Yehudit Garmaise
With Tisha B'av approaching, here's what you need to know.
“On fast days, the typical calls we get are from people who pass out because they did not hydrate enough before the fast began,” says a paramedic of Boro Park Hatzolah.
“It is really important before the fast days to really hydrate yourself as much as you can: especially in the summer months.”
With temperatures rising again, anyone who will be fasting should try to replace sweet drinks with eight glasses of cold water a day to stay hydrated.
The first signs of dehydration include headaches, dizziness, weakness, and vision problems, but increasing water intake now can help to ward off difficult fasts on Sunday.
Also, Gatorade can provide extra electrolytes, and MamaChia drinks that contain protein-filled chia seeds can give pre-fasts boosts.
Another type of call Hatzolah tends to get on fast days is from people who failed to take their usual medications.
“For those who take medication on which their lives are dependent, such as for diabetics and others, I don’t have a question about whether they should take it, but everyone should confirm that with their dayanim and rabbonim,” the Hatzolah paramedic said.
Seniors and women who are pregnant should consult their doctors and rabbis before fasting. In addition, people with kidney problems could develop kidney stones during fasts and should consult physicians.
The Hatzolah volunteer also reminds Boro Parkers that fast days are days for taking it easy, using your air conditioning, and staying out of the heat and bright sunlight as much as possible.
“Try not to exert yourself too much,” said the paramedic, who said that many people start to feel dizzy toward the end of the fast day, or the day after.
With the fast only three days away, cutting back on caffeine will positively affect your hydration levels and slowly break your caffeine addiction.
To avoid migraines, coffee, tea, and soda lovers should slowly decrease their servings by a cup a day, and drink only decaffeinated beverages on Friday and throughout Shabbos.
In the coming days, salty foods such as chips, salted nuts, and pickles, should be replaced with hydrating green and red grapes, plums, and watermelon, which all contain a lot of water.
After the fast ends, instead of eating heavy meat meals, lighter, breakfast type-meals are the easiest to digest.
Eating again after 25 hours can slightly shock the system, so fasters should start out slowly by drinking a lot and nibbling a little bit, and then eating a bit more after about an hour.
The fast in Boro Park starts at 8:05 pm on Shabbos and ends at 9:17 pm on Sunday.