“I can’t believe it’s almost Ramadan again!” – There’s always been this element of surprise in our reaction to how fast it feels to have reached the doorstep of another Ramadan. And while we may welcome the holy month as a time for spiritual reflection, frequent family reunions (and plenty of television drama), there’s also a part of us that fears we’re going to come out of it needing to join a health rehabilitation camp!
This blog piece sheds some light on ways by which we can try to approach the fasting month differently and correctly, so that we might – for a change – walk out of it feeling healthier than we did when it started. Let’s all try to follow the 7 simple tips below as we take on this challenge.
1) Stock up your fridge
Start by preparing a menu for Iftar and Suhoor for the first week of fasting. This will help you identify the required ingredients. Go grocery shopping while your energy levels are high and before it becomes a good idea to avoid crowded supermarkets. Pre-meal-planning saves a lot of hassle and helps to avoid making undesirable food choices, especially as you try to adjust to the first few days of Ramadan.
2) Schedule a check-up with your doctor
One other thing you can do while your energy levels are still up is to pay your doctor a visit to make sure that you’re in good shape to fast. If you’ve recently been unwell or have doubts about your ability to fast, you shouldn’t follow through with it before consulting with your doctor. Concerns over diabetes, high-blood-pressure or heartburn are amongst the conditions on which you’ll need a sign-off to fast from your doctor.
3) Start regulating your sleep now
Many of us feel that Suhoor tends to disrupt our sleeping patterns. The impact of eating in the middle of the night on our bodies could be in itself a topic of another blog piece. If you’re in the habit of getting to bed late and waking up early, it might be a good idea to begin to gradually regulate your sleep starting now. Alternatively, nap in the afternoon for 15-20 minutes to restore energy levels and get rid of any daytime fatigue you may be experiencing.
4) Resist second serving temptations at Iftar
It’s important to remember that sudden intakes of large food portions will only increase your appetite, making the transition for the body and stomach more difficult to adapt to fasting. A simple suggestion would be to serve up smaller portions and slow down the pace of eating.
5) Stop snacking
During Ramadan, we shift from having three meals a day to just two: Suhoor and Iftar. To help ensure a smooth transition to losing one of our main meals, we can start now by avoiding all snacking between breakfast, lunch and dinner, so that when it’s time to start fasting, you’re actually cutting down on just one meal, not one meal and lots of unnecessary snacking!
6) Don’t stress about coffee – you’ll be just fine!
For those of who feel that coffee is their best friend, it’s difficult not to be able to reach out to it every time you feel you need it. Coffee separation anxiety aside, do yourself the favor of not having that nightmare of a pounding headache during the first few days of Ramadan by reducing your caffeine consumption right now. Start also by gradually switching to decaf.
4) Quit smoking
It’s difficult to give any kind of advice on smoking other than to ask smokers to just quit it! Period. Year after year, we all hear horror stories about how smokers have lost their cool and temper during Ramadan as a result of not smoking. The feelings of irritability, anger, restlessness and impatience that smokers experience while fasting are enough reason to quit smoking all together, let alone the health implications. As a blog piece on a wellbeing website, there’s no shortage of things to say about smoking, but since it’s better to have some result than none at all, it’s encouraged to reduce smoking significantly in the build up to Ramadan.
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