Monday, July 20, 2015
Taking place in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is a sacred month for Muslims around the world. It is observed by abstaining from food and drink, from sunrise to sunset.
As a holy month of strict fasting, Ramadan is intended to help teach Muslims self-discipline, self-restraint and generosity. It is also noted as a time to give the body a rest - cleansing it both physically and spiritually, whilst collectively sharpening people’s sense of self-restraint.
In the past, fasting was considered unhealthy. However, that is not strictly the case. When the body is starved of food, it enters a successive series of metabolic modes which can actually help to burn fat to be used as energy. This makes Ramadan an ideal time for losing weight.
However, it should be noted that if you fast for too long, your body will eventually start to break down crucial muscle proteins for energy, which of course is unhealthy. It is for this reason that it is recommended that people taking part in the fast, consume the suhoor before sunrise and the iftar directly after sunset. To assist your body healthily, both of these meals should contain the right proportion of carbohydrates, fat and protein.
Ramadan isn’t just about not eating and drinking though, in addition to fasting from sunrise to sunset, it is also a time to abstain from sex and smoking and to concentrate on personal reflection and prayer.
With this important month coming to an end, here we look at breaking the fast and getting back into an everyday routine, whilst maintaining the healthy habits of Ramadan.
1. Break your fast wisely
As your body has adjusted to not eating, it’s important not to put too much strain on it by eating heavy fat laden foods too quickly after breaking the fast.
After you indulged in the rich, creamy and sweet foods associated with Eid, try to focus your meals on vegetable juices, green smoothies and raw fruits and vegetables. By doing this, you will be able to provide your body with the essential nutrients that it needs. To supplement this, look to consume coconut oil, flaxseed oil and fish oil.
When you are looking to indulge, as a good alternative to less-healthy fried food, the NHS suggests baked samosas, boiled dumplings, grilled meat and milk-based puddings.
Now that Eid has passed, it is wise to be consuming some of the below foods to assist your body healthily in recovery:
- Fruit and vegetable juices
- Raw fruits
- Vegetable or bone broths
- Unsweetened yogurt
- Lettuces and spinach
- Cooked vegetables
- Vegetable soups
- Raw vegetables
- Grains and beans
- Nuts and eggs
If you are looking to indulge in something sweet, rather than eating calorie laden cakes, perhaps consider eating dates, which are an excellent source of iron, fibre and antioxidants.
Be sure to also pay particular attention to your hydration levels; dehydration is common during a fast, with the body continuing to lose water and salts through breathing, perspiration and urination. Because of this, when breaking the fast, look to maintain your hydration levels and ensure you are drinking enough water.
2. Ease yourself into exercise
For most people, Ramadan is a time of decreased physical exercise. For this reason, it makes sense to ease yourself into exercise gently. Gentle exercise such as walking is good, but don’t overexert yourself. Instead, take the time to gradually get back into your normal exercise regime.
Try to the reduce the intensity of any exercise that you are undertaking. This will allow you to stay consistent in working out, without over taxing your energy reserve whilst your body recovers from fasting.
3. Consider fasting more often
As mentioned above, fasting can be healthy for the body. It has been shown to result in physical and mental benefits, such as improved memory, sleep, concentration and increased energy. It can also speed up your metabolism and can be a safe way to lose weight as it allows the body to burn through fat cells more effectively than regular dieting.
For this reason, fasting every now and again can be beneficial. By fasting more regularly, you will also be able to prepare your body for fasting next Ramadan, and this won’t be so much of a shock to the system.
4. Quit smoking for good
For smokers intending to quit, Ramadan is an ideal time to gradually stop smoking and eventually curb the harmful habit altogether. Now that Ramadan is over, if you are a smoker, try not to give into the temptation of smoking. You stopped during Ramadan, so it shows you are able to cut this harmful habit out of your lifestyle. To take your mind off of smoking, perhaps look to replace it with a healthier habit such as exercise.
5. Help your digestive system
The excessive consumption of sweets that follow the long days of fasting in Ramadan as part of Eid celebrations will take their toll on your digestive system. To aid your body, try adding a probiotic supplement to your daily regime as this will replenish the levels of good bacterial flora in your intestines. Studies have shown that probiotics can also help keep colds and infection at bay, improve female health and speed up your metabolism.
We hope you had lovely Eid celebrations and you are now working on maintaining the healthy habits you gained during Ramadan.