M.B. writes from Romema:
Fasting is very difficult for me, and I'm dreading the upcoming Tisha B'Av fast. Can you help me with some ideas about how to make it easier? 
Published in The English Update, No.2, July 15 2010
2-3 days before the fast

The trick is to start building up food and fluid reserves 2-3 days before the fast instead of waiting to binge eat-and-drink right before the fast comes in. During this time drink 10-12 cups of water per day. Eat well during these days avoiding foods that cause you to lose water. Foods to avoid include salted foods, heavy spices, processed and canned items such as pickles, sauces and preserved meats and fishes. People who are used to a lot of caffeine (more than 3 cups of coffee or cola per day) should use these days to gradually eliminate caffeine from their diet in order not to dehydrate on the fast.


Erev Tisha B'av

It's best to have a big breakfast which includes cereals, breads and fruits. This will stretch the stomach a bit as well as giving you energy for the day. Have a small lunch in order to leave room for supper. The Se'uda Mafseket should be a well-balanced meal consisting of complex carbohydrates (slow-release energy) such as wholegrain bread, brown rice, corn, pasta or couscous. Also there should be some protein there such as eggs or tuna. Avoid salt as much as possible (herbs and lemon are just fine). Some oily and fatty foods are good (avoid fatty meats which are salty) as they delay stomach emptying. Reasonable amounts of other foods (soups, salads etc) may be added.


On the fast

It is best to spend as much time as possible at home or in an air-conditioned environment. Parents taking care of small children should particularly avoid expending energy. Avoid perspiring in warm clothing. People with chronic medical conditions and who take medications should consult their doctor regarding whether to fast and if any medicine should be stopped.


Breaking the fast

Eat slowly! Start with soups and non-caffeinated drinks (such as juices). Avoid heavily salted foods as you'll still be a bit dehydrated: in the worst case this may cause you to wake up thirsty in the middle of the night.


Tsom Kal.


Dr Alexander King is a Family Doctor in the center of Jerusalem


Appointments call *3555 (Maccabi)


If you have a question for the doctor, email the299@gmail.com