Ramadan will soon knock at your door and families have already started preparing for the fasting month by stocking all the essential food items.
Fasting during Ramadan can improve one’s health but only if done in the proper manner. All you should do is to prepare and to eat food made from fresh ingredients, cooked in a healthy manner for a nutritious Ramadan meal.
Follow our tips to make a few lifestyle changes to get the best out of this Ramadan. Let this season be a time of revival in spirit, soul and body:
- Before starting a fast, it is necessary to talk to a doctor, particularly for seniors, diabetics taking medication to control their insulin levels, pregnant women and pre-adolescent children. Those with compromised health who still wish to fast for Ramadan should consult their doctor to develop a fasting plan adapted to their condition.
- Even if you are generally healthy, recognize that Ramadan will take a toll. Plan your schedule and meals ahead of time in order to make sure you get the nutrients, hydration, and rest that you need
- Avoid gorging yourself when breaking the fast at sunset. Follow the Sunnah: break your fast with dates and either milk, water, or fruit juice. After the maghrib prayer, continue with a light starter such as soup and crackers. After a long period of fasting, you need to bring your fluids and blood sugar level up without overdoing it
- Light exercise, such as walking for 15-20 minutes, is best done in the evening hours
- Start your meal with dates. Dates are a very important source of sugar that will replenish the energy you lost throughout the long hours of fasting, it is rich in fibres that will regulate your bowel movements. They are rich in magnesium and potassium as well
- Stay hydrated. This year Ramadan will be at the peak of summer when temperatures are hitting as high as 45 degrees. You have to make sure that you drink enough water after you break your fast so that you do not feel thirsty or have any signs of dehydration the following day. Drink 8 glass of water throughout the night
- Avoid fried food. Have it occasionally, or try out healthier options i.e. steamed
- Swap soft drinks, juice concentrates and fruit-flavoured powdered drinks (this usually contains high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to diabetes and obesity) for freshly squeezed juices and water. Caffeinated beverages are diuretics (stimulates urination) which may cause dehydration while fasting
- Avoid any food products labelled: low fat, light, sugar-free, fat-free – most of these have artificial sweeteners, which stimulate body fat and increase carbohydrate cravings
- Avoid the commonly used chicken stock cubes. These are packed with salt, MSG, sugar and preservatives. Add flavour to your meals using organic bone broth (available at organic health food stores), home-made stock, spices and fresh herbs
- Ensure that your meal has all food groups. Your iftar should have a source of grains, proteins, vegetables, fruits and healthy oils
- Avoid canned foods – they contain a toxic chemical known as BPA, which leaches into our foods. Canned food also tends to lose most of the nutrients, frozen is a better option
- Eat slowly. It may seem impossible, but aim for a small iftar with the view to a larger main meal later. If iftar is your main meal, eat very slowly or eat in two parts. Eat a small plate before waiting 10 minutes and continuing with the meal. It will help you to stay energetic and not to feel tired
- Organize your schedule so that you get enough sleep. It is essential to remember that the body system is used to a particular routine and fasting brings in sudden changes to the sleep patterns and diet that could potentially have huge health and social impacts.
The Holy month of Ramadan is not only about refraining from food and water but to refrain from evil. It’s a time to purify the body, soul, and mind.
The benefits of fasting reach into all areas of our lives. And whether you want to fast for increased health, or increased mental clarity, you will get them both–only maybe not all in the first day. Fasting is an ongoing practice, that grows and deepens over time, delivering more and more meaningful benefits.