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What Tips Will Help Me Fast Well?

In the last few days I have been asked by some patients and friends whether I have any tips on what they should do to prepare for the fast.

Now, the fasting I’m speaking about here is that for religious or spiritual purposes, such as Yom Kippur or Ramadan, not intermittent fasting (I’ll get to that another time). With Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year where we fast for 25 hours, knocking at our door, I thought I’d share a few tips.

The truth is, just as some of us get hungrier more often or digest nutrients differently, some people fast well and some people just don’t. This is why, some people find it more effective to use alternate-day fasting or intermittent fasting as their daily eating routines to promote weight loss and longevity, while others don’t. We are all different!

I also remind you, it’s only one day.

Here are my quick tips

1 Stay Hydrated.
With summer having come in with a bang, it is very hot and dry. It is important to stay hydrated at least two days before the fast, ensuring that you drink enough fluids leading up to the fast. During this time, keep a bottle of water with you, you can flavour it with fresh herbs or lemon. Don’t go overboard though, just stay hydrated.

2 Cut out the coffee and caffeinated drinks.
Although caffeine has been shown to not have as much of a dehydrating effect if drunk in moderation, it still acts as a mild diuretic which means that it causes your kidneys to flush out extra sodium and water from your body through urine. We want to try and avoid this the day leading up to the fast.

3 Eat regular meals the day leading up to the fast.
Today is not the day to start a new diet, forget to eat breakfast or eat out of the norm. Eat intuitively and in moderation. Treat this day as a regular meal day and stick to your usual routine.

4 Limit salty and spicy foods.
What happens when you eat foods that are salty or spicy? You get thirsty!! When we eat too much salt, and the salt content in the fluid surrounding our cells is higher than in the cells themselves, fluid gets sucked out of the cells. Signals are sent to our ‘thirst centre’ in our brain alerting us that we need to ‘drink now!!’ as there is too much salt in our bloodstream. To avoid this thirsty feeling, decrease your salt and spice intake the day before the fast.

5 Try limit the sweet stuff.
Foods filled with sugar as well as refined carbohydrates affect your blood glucose levels the most. When we fast, we want to try and keep our blood sugar levels as stable as possible as it’s that dreaded dip that makes us feel shaky, sweaty, dizzy and hungry. The key is to try and avoid sugary foods or carbohydrates that will spike your blood sugar levels up and then drop them down rapidly. Rather save your bulka, fruit-load-up or dessert for when you break the fast. When having starches choose ones that are low GI such as brown rice, sweet potato, legumes, butternut or pumpkin and remember to limit your portion size as a large portion of even your low GI starches can spike your sugars.

6 Eat light and mindfully to start the fast.
You do not have to stuff yourself in fear of the short famine that lies ahead; that extra portion the night before does not keep you going the next day – it does the opposite.  It is only a 25 hour fast and it will serve you more to eat in moderation and intuition. Eating until you are overfull will not only make you feel uncomfortable, sluggish, bloated and ill but it also swings your blood sugars out of control. Assess how hungry you are before you eat and decide accordingly what should go on your plate. Dish up a small portion of low GI carbohydrates and ensure that you have your usual portion of protein, greens and healthy fats – your protein portion should be adequate for you. Remember that protein and healthy fats such as seeds, olive oil, tahini, olives and avocado will help to keep you fuller for longer.

Although more research is needed, fasting has been shown to have beneficial effects on metabolic health, cognitive performance, cardiovascular health and longevity. Strange how religious and spiritual roads usually lead us to health.

With this, I wish you all an easy and meaningful fast.

Nourish yourself to the sunrise.

Written with love ,
Sunrise by HM

Nourished yet? Comment on what I should write about next?

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