Once again the blessed month of Ramadan is just around the corner. And once again it falls in a harsh summer month. Most of us might be dreading the 14 hour long fast and working days. Although the blessed month develops a stronger relationship between Allah and the worshipper, most of us tend to get unhealthy and end up with a not so stronger physical body. In fact, by the time Eid rolls around, we feel a harsh and unhealthy change from when we started. This Ramadan must be different. This Ramadan we must gain a higher conscious and learn to develop healthier lifestyles. This Ramadan, our resolution is to become stronger Muslims.
Strength in Sunnah | Dates in Your Diet
We all know Prophet Muhammed ate dates to open his fast and most of us do eat this knowing it is a simple sunnah task. Other than spiritual blessings these wrinkly chewables are packed in quick digesting goodness – excellent for your fasting body. Dates offer number of minerals, vitamins, and health-benefiting phytonutrients which are easily digested, allowing your body to make full use of their goodness. Iron for your blood, fiber for roughage, vitamin A for your eyes, potassium for your heart, B-vitamins, tannins – these are just a few of the many nutrients in dates . The benefits of dates include relief from constipation, intestinal disorders, heart problems, anemia, sexual dysfunction,diarrhea, abdominal cancer, and many other conditions So this Ramadan, instead of making dates a once-a-year treat, make it a habit to eat this super fruit daily and regularly all year round.
Say No to anything but H20
You know that awful feeling you get right after eating iftar where you just crash and have zero energy? Headache and extreme fatigue? Yes well crashing is exactly what happened to your blood sugar. Drinking sugary drinks at iftar causes an extreme crash when that sugar is digested. White table sugar is a quick digesting carb and causes blood sugar spikes. You feel really good while you drink it and a few moments after until the blood sugar rapidly falls. So if you like to drink lemonade or roh-afza make sure to drink in moderation. No more than one glass of sugary drinks. Drink plenty of water for rehydration. And please stay away from fruit juices, sodas or any processed drinks.
Fried foods | recipe for disaster
Ramadan calls for many delicacies and unfortunately most Asian delicacies are deep fried in oil. A major NO NO. Let’s use common sense for this. All day you did not eat and your body now requires fuel. Is it a smart choice to refuel with extremely dangerous amounts of oil and salt? Even the vegetables which are included in the dish have lost any nutritional value. Basically you are eating nutritionally dead foods. What is the point of increasing spiritual strength if you ignore your body and health? I understand it is difficult to say no all at once but that is a battle you have to win. Consider it a personal jihad against unhealthy lifestyle choices. But if you must, enjoy these fried foods AFTER a healthy iftar meal and remember to eat very little. Ramadan is about gaining strength in mind, body, and health.
Focus on Macros | main energy source
The body needs 3 sources of fuel to function : protein, carbs and healthy fat. After a 14 hour fast period it is essential to refuel with the macronutrients. This ensures that your body is getting the raw materials it needs to function, repair and grow. And off course eating proper macros ensure your body burns fat instead of lean muscle. Your meals during Ramadan nights need to include healthy choices of the 3.
Protein: fish, meat, eggs
Complex carbs : rice, chickpeas, beans, lentils, nuts
Healthy fats : natural fat found in fish, meat, eggs, nuts, butter
Don’t over eat one and ignore the other. Fish and meat are very important. Measure it by the palm of your hand and try to eat one palm full during every meal ( 3x daily). For carbs, listen to your body, since carbs are the main source of energy eat until full then stop. Vegetables are an important carb plus fiber. At every big meal eat one cup full veg. Overcooking makes vegetable useless so try to eat as raw as possible. Fiber helps you stay full longer.
Let’s not waste | smaller portions and frequent meals.
Shocking to know, during Ramadan households, create more food wastage than any time of the year. Food wastage is the greatest in the middle east. In this holy month what can be more ironic and depressing?! One major reason of this wastage is large portions. We pile on food after food on our plate thinking we can eat in one sitting. Not only is stuffing the stomach unhealthy, it causes fat to be stored and body quickly get fatigue after eating. Difficulty in praying or even functioning normally followed by lethargy. An easy solution is to eat smaller meals more frequently. Instead of 3 big meals make it 4 or 5 smaller meals. This ensures less food wastage and your body will be able to process without an extreme load.
Gain a higher conscious, not fat.
Ramadan is a spiritual journey to gain strength and durability in worship. It’s a month-long exercise for the soul to detach from this material world. Ramadan is also a time to increase in strength in mind, body and soul. Although our body is a part of this material world, it is also an Amanah. A gift to us and a blessing. It is the most important material that can help us get closer to Allâh. A strong body is a foundation for a strong Muslim. Make this Ramadan a good kick start to a healthier life. Instead of spending too much time preparing food, keep kitchen time minimum . Learn healthier and simple food preparations. Simple food preparation not only saves time but saves us from over cooking the food and making it nutritionally dead. Stick to more whole foods rather than processed. Give your body the proper fuel it needs to pass Ramadan and become a healthier and stronger version of yourself.