Every year as Yom Kippur approaches, I get into an anxiety mode. I have a really hard time fasting without food or water for an entire day. I try to eat a huge meal right before the fast, but it only seems to make me thirsty, and by the next morning I am starving. By the afternoon I am either wiped out in bed, or clawing at the refrigerator door!
Do you have any advice for me?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
Fasting for 25 hours on Yom Kippur is undeniably difficult. But there is one thing that can make everything easier:
Most people think the challenge of fasting is feeling "hungry." In truth, avoiding thirst is much more important. The average person can survive for a month without food - but only three days without water.
With proper hydration, not only do you avoid the discomfort of thirst, but you also swallow more frequently, so your stomach does not feel as empty.
A large part of successful fasting is in the mind. Talking about your hunger will only focus your attention on food and make things more difficult. The key here is to distract your mind from food. The more you immerse yourself in prayer, the less you'll think about food.
Fasting is easier if you prepare your body in advance. See this article for "Seven Simple Steps" to maximize your hydration on Yom Kippur - leaving you with more strength and energy to do the truly important spiritual work of the day.
For more details, read Aish.com's “Seven Steps to an Easy Fast.”
Wishing you an easy fast and a meaningful Yom Kippur!