Who said you can`t stay fit, active and healthy during the fasting month??
The long awaited and blessed holy month of Ramadan is once again drawing near, and again, due to the summer season it is falling in, the days will be long. Nevertheless, who says you cannot remain healthy if you’re fasting for the entire month?
Indeed, fasting during the holy month of Ramadan can be good for your health if it’s done wisely, and you can remain fit and active during the entire month provided you follow the appropriate measures. Considering the hot weather that is typical for this period of the year, we have to be vigilant about what we eat and do so that we can maintain our health and fitness, as well as boost our resilience and endurance during the entire month of `belly & spirit` fasting.
Ever felt like you’re about to `crash and burn` during Ramadan? understandably, fasting may have that effect on some. But you don’t have to spend Ramadan feeling exhausted. Here are 8 simple, yet valuable health tips to keep you healthy and comfortable all through the holy month of Ramadan:
1- Maintain a healthy and balanced diet
- Opt for natural food, not junk or processed food: Despite the tons of commercials that state otherwise, processed food is usually low in nutrients and loaded with unhealthy and artificial Ingredients such as Monosodium glutamate (MSG) to enhance flavor. It also contains lots of sodium and characteristically all the dreaded heart-clogging oils. Nothing is more healthy than natural, and preferably, home-cooked food.
- Don’t break your fast with a feast: While `Iftaar` and `Suhoor` meals represent an ideal time for families and friends to come together to eat, it`s vital not to overindulge and to refrain from binge eating. On the contrary, many people take advantage of holy Ramadan to improve their dietary habits; it`s a golden opportunity for those who are serious about enhancing their quality of life to make positive changes to their lifestyle that can be sustained for long periods to come.
- Eat slowly and mindfully when breaking your fast: Don’t be in a hurry to finish your food. After being deprived of eating for quite some long hours, overloading on food may lead to indigestion and other stomach problems.
- Pick the dates first, you won`t regret it: An excellent way to break your fasting is by the intake of few dates which will pump in a surge of energy because of its rich content of natural sugars. They are also rich in potassium (which helps in hydration and restoration of electrolyte balance), as well as being a good source of fiber.
2- Hydrate your body:
Due to the long fasting hours, our bodies naturally gets dehydrated over the course of the day. During the non-fasting period, we should prioritize the rehydration process in our bodies. In addition to ample water intake, we can have soups made with fresh vegetables to supply the water that nourishes our bodies and helps to get rid of toxins. Also consider making smoothies and fresh fruity drinks which are super-hydrating and full of vitamins.
3- Never skip ‘Suhoor’
Just as `Iftaar` is the most important meal during Ramadan, ‘Suhoor’ is equally important. This meal helps your body stay hydrated and fuelled up on energy and valuable nutrients until your next `Iftaar`. A well-balanced meal at ‘Suhoor’ may contain:
- Complex carbohydrates: Lentils, grains and other complex slow-releasing carbohydrates (like fava beans) help in keeping your blood sugar steady and give you a feeling of fullness for the greater part of the fasting day.
- Protein-rich foods: Eggs, cheese, yoghurt or meat are recommended as they can help replenish your energy throughout the day.
- High-fiber foods: Dates, figs, whole wheat, grains, seeds, potatoes, vegetables and fruits especially apricots and prunes are rich in fibre, thus allowing for slow digestion
4- Avoid caffeine-rich drinks
Caffeine is a diuretic that can induce more water loss, leading to dehydration. It is best to avoid caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee and fizzy drinks, or drink them sparingly.
5- Exercise appropriately in Ramadan
Working out is one of the best ways to remain healthy as it allows your body to stay fit and in shape. Nevertheless, it is better to postpone working out until after fasting hours to avoid dehydration. Allow at least 2-3 hours after `Iftaar` to begin your exercise routine, so as to give your body enough time for proper digestion. Maintain hydration throughout and after physical exercise to replenish the water and minerals lost due to sweating.
6- Sleep properly
Nothing is more holy than to spend most – if not all – of your time during Ramadan in the remembrance of Allah The Mighty and praying. But it is also essential to allow yourself enough rest in the process. You need at least 6 – 8 hours of sleep so that you can function properly during the day and prevent the effect of fasting from getting in the middle of all the work obligations you have to fulfill.
7- Boost your skill of self-discipline
Fasting is basically a good exercise in self-discipline. For those who are chain smokers, caffeine dependants and sweet addicts, holy Ramadan represents a golden opportunity to beat off the craving, hoping that the effect will last far longer than the 30 days of `training`.
8-Adapt fasting to your health condition
Some Muslims – especially seniors – should consult their trusted doctor, as should pregnant women, children and people with chronic ailments (such as diabetes and hypertension) who are on medication. Whether to fast or not is a personal decision but it is important to seek medical advice if you have a health-related concern so as to ensure you can do so safely if you do decide to fast.
Ramadan is the ideal time of the year for spirituality, self-reflection, and piety, but there’s no reason why you should not also look after your body and its health. May everyone who observes the blessed month of Ramadan enjoy a peaceful, happy AND healthy time with family, friends and community.