Guide for a Healthy Ramadan
By: Meral Abu-Jaser /Arab America Contributing Writer
Have you ever planned to stay healthy during Ramadan? If you are like me, then you are probably nodding your head with a yes! If you are looking for a healthy guide for a healthy Ramadan, then you are at the right place! Each Ramadan I tend to plan out a routine that I try my best to follow. Yet finally, this year I plan to contribute what I have learned in the previous years into a guide along with a couple of healthy tips that I myself follow. Today I am going to share with you my personal guide and hopefully, you will find it useful. Now let us get set and start working with these healthy guide goals together for a healthy Ramadan.
Do Not Over Eat!
A big part of Ramadan is cooking the iftar. When we are hungry, we crave almost anything that we can think about. However, we should sustain our hunger and eat only what we need to compensate for what we have lost the whole day. For example, let us make soup, one main dish, have plenty of vegetables, and keep the soda aside. Instead of drinking sugary drinks let us replace them with healthy ones. Here is a couple healthy drink that might catch your interest. Not leaving the table with a full stomach lets you have more room for liquids and fruit later on.
Balance your Diet
The best way to get all the nutrition you need from your meals is to eat a balanced diet throughout Ramadan. Carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats are all needed to maintain a healthy diet through the blessed month. Try to include foods such as oatmeal and whole grains. This is to sustain your energy throughout the day while fasting. Also try to incorporate proteins in your diet; beans, eggs, fish, and meat are a great source of protein. Adding them to your meals will help you get your daily intake of protein. Don’t forget your vegetables and fruits as those will help you consume the vitamins and minerals you need to keep a balanced diet.
Ramp Up your Fluid Intake
One essential step for a healthy Ramadan is drinking plenty of water. It is important to keep up with fluid drinks because we lose so much throughout the day and we need to restore all of it. Hence, more water helps the digestive system to work to its fullest. If you struggle with plain water, try adding in some lemon or other fruit of your choice to naturally change the taste.
I usually keep a full water bottle with plenty of lemon sliced, mint leaves, and a couple of thin-sliced ginger. It is not often, but I do sometimes add cucumbers when I have missing ingredients. This easy and refreshing drink keeps you hydrated and ready to tackle another day of fasting. Another alternative is eating fruits as they are good for your health and also contain plenty of liquids. For example, watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit, and pineapple are examples of fruits with 80-90% water content.
Avoid Salty Meals and Snacks
During Ramadan, we need to be cautious about what we eat. It is very important that we do our best in avoiding salty meals and snacks. As we fast from sunrise until sunset, our bodies are in a state where it is exhausted and dehydrated. Hence, the best method in reducing the body’s dehydration is by not eating meals that are high in sodium. For instance, replace your bag of chips with a bag of dried fruits or vegetables. Moreover, keep the salty cheese and olives always for the holy month. Instead, increase your consumption of yogurt as it is a great source of protein and the dairy will give you a lasting feeling of hydration.
Do not Skip Suhur!
Many of us tend to skip suhur because we need to wake up earlier, have jobs, or just simply do not want to wake up from bed! Referring to a hadith by the prophet Mohamad (Peace be upon him), suhur allows your fasting to be blessed “Have Suhur, as it is a blessing.” With that in mind, you should start thinking twice before skipping an important part of fasting. Now, remember, you want to maintain a healthy and balanced diet, therefore keep the suhur as simple as possible. Try having a bowl of granola, or a fruit salad with your favorite fruits. If you are still hesitant in waking up or even just to prepare for suhur, you can go by the prophet’s (peace be upon him) routine. He would sometimes eat a piece of date, or more, as long as the number of dates consumed is an odd number.
Though fasting can be physically exhausting, try not to be completely inactive. If you usually work out early in the morning, you would need to shift it to the evening after you break your fast in an hour or so. If exercising in the evening is not an option for you, then you might need to increase your movement during the day. Avoid vigorous exercise while fasting because you can quickly become dehydrated. Think small—short walks or a few stretches can go a long way in keeping your energy up during the day.
As we all know, Ramadan is a spiritual month where all Muslims try to get closer to Allah (God). Therefore, salat al-tarawih is the perfect place to start a healthy relationship with Allah. However, that is not all. In fact, salat al-tarawih does not just make you spiritually closer to Allah, but it also is a good exercise. According to a study done by ncbi.gov, “Studies on the benefits of ‘salat’ have revealed that it improves not only spiritual well-being but also mental and physical health, improving muscle strength, joint mobility and blood circulation, when performed correctly and with the right postures.” If you want to learn more about the physical benefits of salah you can read the study here. Now that you know the importance of salah, try not to skip salat al-tarawih this Ramadan, as it may be the only source that improves both your spiritual and physical well-being.
If you are like me then you probably struggle with this as well. Now during Ramadan, my sleeping habits change drastically. I tend to sleep only after Suhur only getting 3-5 hours of sleep a day. A good method to prevent this from happening is to wake up early and avoiding staying up at night. Try to split your responsibility throughout the day. Do not leave them until after you break your fast which would force you to stay awake. Whether it is homework that is due, a project, or maybe just doing house chores, it is better to have them done during the day.
What’s your Healthy Routine?
The holy month of Ramadan brings with it immense opportunities to amend our relationship with Allah and to re-establish broken bonds. This is dependent only on our willingness to avail of the various opportunities on offer. However, that does not mean you should disregard your well-being. Therefore, I hope this guide can help lead you to a healthy Ramadan. I personally am going to follow this guide during the blessed month. If you have any additional thoughts or ideas, you can add them in the comment section below. Also, do not forget to share this guide with your family, friends, and loved ones! Now stay safe and have a happy blessed month of Ramadan!
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