As a youth I didn't mind fast days so much. I mean yeah, they were boring and the summer time ones seemed to stretch on forever, but physically it wasn't a big deal.
By the time I hit med school however, it was a different story. I started to get headaches on each and every fast day. Now I dread thembecause by the end of the day I was a nauseous wreck. Sure it made for great kapparah but still...
So naturally I looked for ways to get around the headaches. Someone suggested drinking lots of water the day before. Didn't work. Get lots of sleep. Didn't work.
And then someone finally asked me: do you drink coffee?
Well yeah, was my reply, one to two cups a day. Why?
And that's when I learned about caffeine withdrawal. What really struck me as odd was that I only drink one cup a day. Usually people withdraw after 2-3 cups but I guess I'm just sensitive.
Now, knowing that I'm not the only person who goes Jones during a fast day, and as it so happens there's a fast day tomorrow, here's my advice for coping with voluntary food/drink deprivation:
1) Drink lots of water the day before. (Yeah, I know I said it didn't help but dehydrating could amplify what's coming)
2) Stop all coffee one week before the fast. (Yeah, I know, but I was busy last week and didn't have time to post this)
3) Do what my rebbe taught me, the "Segulah of the Chafetz Chayim". Tonight after dinner eat a bunch of seedless grapes (well, they can have seeds but who has the time for all that spitting?). Then have two cups of non-caffeinated tea. In the first put 5 teaspoons of sugar, but no sugar in the second cup.
Ever since I started doing that I've aced all my fasts, B"H. Try it and see for yourself.
And easy fast and happy Purim to all my readers.