Ramadan is a particularly significant month for Muslims, where many take part in fasting from sunrise to sunset. This is one of the five pillars of Islam and is meant to bring you closer to Allah.
While not everyone fasts (pregnant women, children, the elderly and the sick are among those exempt), most Muslims don’t let food or drink pass their lips during daylight hours.
Ramadan is coming soon. We all are waiting for the month of blessings the month of forgiveness. May this Ramadan bring joy, health and wealth to all of you 💕I can’t describe the inner peace ✌
— Alishaha. (@Alishytweets) May 15, 2018
This is no mean feat. Despite the spiritual nature of the fasting, it’s still a pretty tricky thing to do – especially when life has to continue as normal, with people still going to work or even doing their exams during this time.
This year Ramadan falls between May 15 and June 14, so here are some top tips to help you with the fasting if you are partaking in the holy month.
1. Be more present when you’re eating
When breaking the fast, it’s tempting to wolf down food as quickly as possible – especially if you’ve spent all day waiting for this moment.
However, this isn’t the best route. If you’re more mindful of what you’re eating – that means thinking about your food and taking time to chew each bite – chances are you’re going to be more satisfied afterwards.
The slower you eat, the longer food will take to digest, which will help keep you fuller for longer.
2. Be smart with what you eat
📍Healthy Ramadan fasting
1. Don’t skip Suhoor (pre-dawn meal)
2. Don’t overeat during iftar (dinner)
3. Avoid eating fried food, salty foods and high-sugar foods
As you have a smaller window to eat, you have to be smarter with your choices. This means making sure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs during suhoor (the meal before sunrise) and iftar (the one after sunset).
If you want to be very clever about it, during suhoor eat food that will release energy slowly – like long release carbs eg. wholegrain bread and pasta. Be mindful of anything that will seriously spike your blood sugar levels, as chances are that will leave you feeling more tired and deflated later in the day.
It almost goes without saying, but you should be drinking a lot of water during the times you aren’t fasting. Your body will thank you for it, particularly as the weather begins to warm up.
3. Avoid too much caffeine
Ramadan is often a time of poor sleep, as you have to get up before sunrise for suhoor. Whilst reaching for a coffee might seem like a good idea to help you stay awake (and also because it is an appetite suppressant), make sure you don’t overdo it.
In large quantities caffeine can be dehydrating, which can be particularly tricky when you’re fasting and can’t have a glass of water.
Dehydration is one of the trickiest parts of getting through Ramadan, but there are plenty of things you can do to avoid it – for example, try not to eat lots of salty food when breaking the fast.
4. Focus on your sleep
my sleep cycle is messed up just in time for Ramadan
— 🌸جميلة🌸 (@jamiletchankai) May 15, 2018
As we mentioned, Ramadan can have a huge impact on your sleep. Broken sleep and fasting during the day can in turn affect your energy levels.
With this in mind, it’s wise to make a plan for your sleep, so you can make sure you’re getting enough. Also try and focus on the quality of your sleep – this can be through the food you choose to eat, as well as reducing screen time before you nod off.
5. Do some light exercise
After I get into the groove of Ramadan, I work out around 6ish. Not too much cardio. More like weight lifting, yoga etc. But I drink a lot of water the night before, morning of. https://t.co/HML98nWMM8
Obviously you shouldn’t be smashing heavy gym sessions during Ramadan, as it will be harder for your body to replenish your energy stores. At best this would be knackering, and at worst, dangerous for your health.
However, it’s not a month to become a couch potato. Regularly doing some light exercise – like brisk walks or gentle yoga – will help keep your senses alert and give you an energy boost. We particularly recommend it during the 4 o’clock slump, when you might be feeling particularly tired and hungry.
6. Focus on your breath
While fasting can become easier as the month goes on and your body adjusts to its new timetable, there will still be moments where hunger pangs get the better of you.
If this does happen and iftar seems an awfully long way off, it’s definitely worth focusing on your breathing. Practising simple breathing techniques (like lengthening your inhales and exhales, and counting down each) can do much to help take your mind off your hunger and calm the thoughts whizzing through your head.
7. Keep busy
If you spend the day thinking about how hungry and tired you are, fasting will be a pretty miserable experience and your stomach will gnaw even more than before.
However, if you plan your day as much as you can to keep your mind as busy as possible, chances are you’ll dedicate fewer hours to thinking about your hunger, and iftar will arrive in no time.