Ramadan is an incredible month. 2 billion Muslims go without food during the day for 30 days. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, which every capable Muslim must perform.
Yet it can be difficult to practice. Many people go without food and drink during the day, but their hunger and thirst distract them. Others eat full meals, only to feel full halfway through the day.
You can practice Ramadan fasting while staying healthy and happy. You just need to familiarise yourself with some fasting tips. Here are ten of them.
1. Be Strategic
In the weeks before Ramadan, try to ease your way into fasting. Spread your meals out so you get used to a long period without food.
Stop snacking or drinking coffee and tea during the afternoon. Do not drink alcohol or consume narcotics, as these can affect your digestion and hunger levels.
Schedule an appointment with your doctor and create a healthy fasting plan with them. Ask them what you can eat during the month.
At the start of each day, plan out what you are going to do. You are going to feel hungry and thirsty, and this is going to cloud your mind. Make sure you can get your work and prayers done for the day.
Decide what you are going to have for each meal in advance. This will help you shop for groceries and prepare dishes faster.
Loop your non-Muslim associates in on your plans. They may become confused or concerned if they don’t see you eat or drink. Let them know what Ramadan is about and ask for them to consider your needs.
2. Don’t Fast If It Endangers Your Health
You are exempt from fasting if you meet several criteria. Young children do not have to fast. Adolescents going through puberty need food in order to sustain their growth, so they should not fast.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women need nutrients to sustain their children. Women who are menstruating may also stop fasting.
People with acute or chronic illnesses can eat if fasting would endanger their health. This includes people diagnosed with COVID-19. Chronic illnesses that would get worse through fasting include diabetes and cancer.
You can choose to fast, even if you are technically exempt. You should only do so with your doctor’s consent and knowledge. If they tell you not to fast, you should not.
You may be able to reach a compromise. You can drink during the day, but not eat. You can avoid eating breakfast for the entire month while eating lunch and dinner.
Swallowing oral medication is considered breaking the fast. But taking an injection or using an inhaler is not. You can inject insulin or swallow inhaler spray while maintaining your fast.
3. Stay Hydrated
The average adult needs at least two litres of water every day. Start each of your meals with a glass of water to cover your needs.
During your meals, eat foods that are rich in water. This includes soups and stews with a heavy amount of broth. You can also eat watermelon and spinach, which are mostly water.
Incorporate unsweetened juices, especially ones made from fresh fruits and vegetables. Drink milk as well.
Do not drink caffeinated beverages. Though they supply important levels of energy, they induce the body to produce urine, which facilitates dehydration.
The same goes for sugary beverages like soda. If you must add sugar to your drink, add only one spoonful.
If you are feeling signs of dehydration, drink water right away. You can have a beverage if the fast is endangering your health.
4. Eat Healthy Meals
When it is time to eat, many people gorge themselves. You should eat until you are full, but you should select full and healthy meals.
Eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible. Start your meal off with a salad with leafy greens like kale. Incorporate orange vegetables like carrots and peppers.
Try to select non-meat sources of protein. Roasted nuts work well over a salad or as an appetizer in their own right. Make sure the nuts don’t come with too much salt, which can dehydrate you.
When you do eat meat, eat small amounts of it. Do not eat it with refined carbohydrates, which are found in white bread and potatoes. Choose white meat instead of red.
Steaming is the healthiest way to cook meals. If you must use another means, grill or bake. Use olive or canola oil as a fat instead of butter or margarine.
Do not eat desserts in large portions. The body digests sugar quickly, so you will become hungry faster. Eat fruits and nuts instead.
5. Eat a Variety of Foods
You want to eat foods that take time to digest and release energy. The best kinds of these foods contain high amounts of fibre.
Eat whole grains, and try to eat several kinds of them. When you are eating bread, select whole wheat or multigrain varieties. As a side dish, eat steamed quinoa and brown rice.
For added sources of protein, eat legumes and seafood. These proteins contain few grams of saturated fat. You can also incorporate them into many different recipes, most of which accommodate vegetables.
Your body needs many different nutrients, including healthy fats. Make sure that your meals touch upon all of them.
6. Eat Mindfully
It takes 20 minutes for your body to recognize that it has had enough to eat. If you eat too much, you can stress your digestive system and give yourself less energy.
When you are getting seconds, take time cutting your food into individual pieces. This will give time for your body to process the previous meal. Intersperse your plates with a glass of water.
Roll the food around in your mouth. Try to taste it, not just eat it. This will slow your digestion down and give you time to decide what you want next.
Do not eat while watching television or looking at your phone. This can distract you from how much you are consuming. Try to focus on the food itself, especially its textures and tastes.
7. Exercise a Little
Staying active is important. Exercise strengthens your muscles and bones, and it can improve your mental health.
If possible, try exercising for at least one hour every day. Schedule your exercise for a time that works best for you.
Many people find it helpful to exercise iftar or suhur when they have a lot of energy. Others find it best to work out at night when temperatures are lower. Try either of these approaches.
You can exercise during the day. Do so indoors or in shaded areas. Exercising in full sunlight can strain your body and induce dehydration.
Sprinting and weightlifting can be stressful. Opt for less-intensive exercises like walking and swimming. Take breaks while you are working out to catch your breath and relax your muscles.
8. Get Plenty of Rest
You should get at least eight hours of sleep every night. This can be difficult because you can only eat while the sun is down. Sleep deprivation can exacerbate hunger, so it is important to get good sleep.
Schedule your meals so you can eat, go to bed for eight hours, and get up before sunrise. If you are feeling tired during the day, try to get a nap.
Some people use relaxants to ease themselves into sleep. But smoking cigarettes and consuming sleep pills do not often work. Perform deep breathing and read a book to allow your mind to calm down.
Cook a different meal every day. Eating the same food over and over will make you feel tired and hungry. Cooking something different will give you something to look forward to as you carry out your day.
Experiment with your exercise and sleep schedules. Try exercising before you eat, but while the sun is down.
Trust your feelings and bodily sensations. If something is not making you feel well, stop doing that activity. Adjust it so you feel better.
10. Enjoy Ramadan
Fasting has an important religious purpose. It allows Muslims to devote themselves to their commitments to God and the Muslim faith.
Take advantage of fasting to focus your mind on your religious values. Think of prayers you can recite. Perform acts of charity for those in need.
Work with your neighbours and family members on community projects. At the very least, talk to them about what they are going through. Whatever inconvenience fasting may cause you, other people are feeling that inconvenience, too.
Cook dishes and share meals with those around you. Celebrate your community and consider what actions you can take to deepen your connections.
Celebrate Eid al-Fitr by splurging a little. If you have been holding back on dessert, make some sweets for yourself.
Ten Essential Ramadan Tips
Ramadan starts on April 12 at sundown. Talk to your doctor about how you should fast. Don’t fast if it will endanger your health.
Stay hydrated by drinking water at each meal. Eat healthy meals with a variety of different foods. Take time to eat without distractions.
Exercise after sundown, but take time to rest. Adjust your meals and schedules as the month goes on. Make sure you enjoy the month alongside your family.
Get in touch with experts on Islamic living. Crescent Wealth Super is Australia’s leading Islamic investment fund. Contact us today
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Talal currently serves as a Non-Executive Director on the Whitlam Institute and Western Sydney University Foundation Council Board. He also serves as Chairman of First Quay Capital and Chairman of the Australian Arab Dialogue. Talal has also served on the Australia Post, Board of Sydney Ports, Macquarie University and the Western Sydney Area Health Service and the Chairman of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Council of Australia Arab Relations. In an executive capacity, Talal spent 10 years at PwC as a director and strategist, and at investment firm Babcock & Brown in the Corporate Finance Group and later in the Technical Real Estate Division. Later Talal held leadership positions in Better Place Australia, Platinum Hearing and Star Transport Australia.