7 Tips to Stay Healthy While Fasting
I’m a Muslim and every year, during the holy month of Ramadan we are required to fast for 30 days. It is one of the pillars of Islam. Some Christians are also required to partake in obligatory fasts, however whatever your religion, beliefs, or weight loss goals might be, here are 7 tips to help you maintain your health and also rejuvenate your mind, soul, body and spirit during the fasting period.
Note: This article is written around the Islamic fast which requires you to eat breakfast before the sun rises and fast till the sun sets.
Suhoor - Breakfast before sunrise
Iftar - Dinner after sunset
- Stay hydrated. With so much focus on food during Iftar and Suhoor, it is likely that you may neglect your water intake. Water is essential for the body to function properly and also it also keeps you energized during the fast. My top tip is to drink a glass of water before and after Iftar and Suhoor. Additionally, drink a glass every hour after Iftar till you go to bed. You should be aiming for at least 8 glasses.
- Eat in moderation. It’s quite sarcastic that although Ramadan is supposed to be a month of solemnity and restriction, many of us fall into the trap of stuffing our face silly at Iftars, borderline gluttony. While our bodies need to be replenished after hours of fasting, we must not overcompensate, as balance is key. My top tip would be to pre plan and portion your meals before sitting down to eat. Fill up on lots of fruits, vegetables and soup, then it will be quite difficult to ask for double helpings of the main course and dessert.
- Break your fast with slow energy foods. Blood sugar levels go very low during the day, so it is recommended to break the fast with some water and most conventionally dates, which slowly help stabilise blood sugar. I have an amazing energy balls recipe made with a base of date paste. It’s delicious and packed with additional nutrients from nuts and super foods. Top tip, one or two of these balls are more than enough to reintroduce your body to food and prep your stomach for bigger meals.
- Stay active. It’s easy to fall into a sedentary routine during Ramadan, with shorter working hours and the Dubai summer heat. However it is essential to keep your body moving and active. Burn some calories by going for a light jog, two to three hours after Iftar to help with meal digestion. Top tip, if you’re like me and you’ll be doing more intense workouts, make sure you pack some extra energy balls and maybe a banana to help you push through the workout.
- Don’t skip Suhoor. It takes time for your body to adjust eating early, and if you’re already accustomed to skipping breakfast this is one you really need to watch. If you choose the right foods during Suhoor, you’ll find that you will remain energized during the day and fasting will be a breeze. Top tip, foods like oatmeal, sweet potato, and quinoa will keep you full and satisfied for up to 5 hours, making it that much easier to fast.
- Get your protein fix. If you’ve been hitting the gym and have worked really hard for a body made of muscle and sinew, a dip in protein is the last thing you need. Make sure you include a source of protein in all your meals, as they also increase your satiety and will keep you full for longer. Top tip, have one protein packed smoothie a day. To make, simply blend 1 banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter, half a cup of yogurt, half a cup soy milk, 1 tablespoon chia seeds and a teaspoon of cinnamon. I also like to have a boiled egg with every meal.
- Meditate. A healthy mind goes hand in hand with a healthy body. Endeavour to use the holy month to rejuvenate your mind through meditation and prayer. Reflect and access your life plans and goals. Make your mind a positive place and you’ll feel positivity and goodness flow in to your life. May the almighty all make it easy for us.