A fully laden table with samosas, mouthwatering spring-rolls, cookies, double cheese sandwiches and a bowl of double chocolate pudding is something we have all witnessed during Iftar time, in variations. What is ironic is that the month of Ramadan has a purpose - to control our temptations and desires, including food. By not adopting a simple practice of minimally laying down your dining table with fruits, a few treats and fresh juices, you might be heading for a bad turn, both in terms of practicing self-control as well as your weight!
Ramadan teaches us values that are so important, including sharing and caring, being nice to each other, reducing wastage of food by giving away as much as you can to the needy, curbing your hunger levels and overall, giving your body an entire month in a year to detoxification and cleanse in the form of healthy fasting.
Fasting individuals wake up at dawn, and start their day with eating foods that will help them to sustain their fast throughout the day until the fast is broken. It is not only encouraged by the religion, but also has a logical reason behind it - you require to eat in the morning so that you don't suffer from dizziness or any ill feelings throughout your fast, as well as hunger pangs.
Early in the morning, it is always preferable to consume fruits, complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, wheat, oatmeal, sweet potato, brown rice and so on, along with a good helping of protein and necessary fats (chicken, lentils, nuts, avocado, etc).
Although one may be lazy to prepare a nice meal in the morning, they can always be pre-prepared the night before at the least, or you can make delicious, nutritious snacks within minutes that will keep your energised throughout, such as date balls and avocado toast.
Avoid having sweets early in the morning - although they may be tempting and more preferred over healthy food right after you wake up with a groggy head, it will affect you in the long run, as they are refined carbohydrates; such carbs will satisfy you for a short time and later digest too quickly, only for you to feel hungry again.
Cakes, puddings, processed foods are best avoided during the early hours of the morning. Simply replace them with healthier options that will still be appealing to you.
As you fast along the day, it is natural to experience hunger pangs, however, keep yourself occupied in spiritual or work-related tasks in order to get through the day with ease. Fasting is not a curse for the stomach, but a blessing as it gives your digestive system the break it so requires at least for 30 days in a year.
As you approach Iftar time, remember the golden rule - eat with ease, and your body will be at peace. Do not overeat all in one go, simply because you have not eaten throughout the day. Start with a date, move to water and refresh your body with rich fruits that have cooling properties, including watermelon, sweet melon, pineapples and peaches.
Once you have given your body the nutritious boost it deserves, allow yourself to indulge in something fried or sweet, but always remember to keep a balance. Healthy isn't boring, and fatty, deep fried snacks are not good for you on a regular basis. It is all about balance, control and temptation.
The month of Ramadan is simply the best time to begin a healthy lifestyle, for you learn to control eating excessively and keep your body in check. By eating moderately every day along with occasional treats, you will gradually become fit, maintain a clean and purified body that has been given its yearly detoxification.
Ramadan is also the time when smokers learn to quit smoking and maintain control over their daily consumption, gradually stopping completely; You also avoid a vast majority of diseases and medical illnesses with a balanced healthy diet, including heart diseases, arthritis, blood pressure, cholesterol, and much more.
Exercise is discouraged throughout the day as it may cause dizziness and fatigue; apart from taking the stairs whenever possible and a few light workouts at home, it is recommended to avoid exercising until post-Iftar, after 2-3 hours. You can then resume your daily or weekly workouts as usual, ensuring that your body does not stay inactive throughout the month simply because you're undertaking a fast.
Water and maintaining sufficient liquids in the body is crucial during the month, especially for those commuting to work and those toiling under the scorching heat. With the summer season not far away, ensure you drink enough liquids early in the morning to avoid dehydration.
This surely does not mean to drink excessively in the morning either, as you would feel nauseous for the same. However, it is quite common to see dehydrated students fainting under the sun for not drinking enough liquids. Thus, this must be kept under consideration. At Suhoor time, try to incorporate at least 3 glasses of water.
After Iftar, make sure you drink at least 4 glasses until bedtime to stay hydrated and maintain body coolness. Drinking juices is also ideal, for you will be able to extract nutrients as well as keep a check on your water content.
Lastly, fasting is not about restrictions, but reminding ourselves of how grateful we should be for what we have, and thus learning to control our desires for the less fortunate. We should bear in mind that health is crucial and therefore, rather than eating an entire cheesecake whole, avoid being obese by sharing half of the treat with those around you, regardless of faith.
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