The holy month of Ramadhan will soon begin with it taking place on 13th April in Malaysia (some countries will start on 12th April) and will last for one month. It is a very important date in the Muslim calendar as devout Muslims will practice fasting between dawn and dusk, without taking in any food or drink. Fasting is an important part of being a Muslim as it is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, with the other four being faith, prayer, charity and the Hajj (the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca).
It is important to look after one’s health during the month of Ramadhan, as fasting for prolonged periods can be challenging even for those who have practiced it for years. Here are some suggestions that may help you plan your Ramadhan fast.
1. Avoid skipping Suhoor (morning meal)
As they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. During the month of Ramadhan, Suhoor is the morning meal before Muslim’s began their day’s fast. Many may be tempted to skip Suhoor, as it requires them to get up early in the morning (typically around 5.00am or even earlier) to eat. If you are fasting, try to avoid skipping Suhoor. Remember, once you began fasting, you will not be able to eat or drink for around 13 hours or so. Not having something in the morning can have a detrimental effect on your energy level and concentration. So, why not set that alarm clock a little earlier and have yourself a good breakfast?
2. Plan out your shopping list for the week
Organising you and your family’s meals for the week and planning your groceries on a weekly run may help the Suhoor and Iftar (break of a fast) meal prep. No one likes to be stuck in long lines at the grocery store and during Ramadhan, this could be a common occurrence if you don’t plan out your shopping. Getting to the grocery store early with a clear shopping list can make your runs quick and easy with minimum hassle. Alternatively, you can get your groceries online but remember that it may take up to a few days for it to arrive.
3. Monitor your exercise routine
It is perfectly fine to exercise during the month of Ramadhan. However, your focus might need to shift from pushing your body to maintaining your current routine as your energy level might not allow you to push yourself too much. Studies have shown that exercising in a fasted state can help with weight loss but it is also important to time your workouts. A good time to work out during Ramadhan is an hour or two before Iftar as you have a nutritious meal coming up to feed your body, but if exercising before Iftar is a challenge, an alternative is to exercise an hour after breaking fast.
4. Keep an eye on your nutrition and hydration
After a long day of fasting, it can be quite tempting to just gobble up any delicious food in your line of sight. The selection in some Ramadhan bazaars are downright mouthwatering but it is important to watch what you eat so that you don’t end up overeating and putting on more weight instead (yes, it can happen). For Suhoor, remember to drink lots of water, eat foods that are high in fibre (oats) and protein (eggs), and have some fruits to keep you full and give you energy for the day. For Iftar, it is good to replenish the nutrition in your body with foods rich in protein (chicken), vitamins (vegetables and fruits), some carbohydrates (rice) and drink plenty of liquids. A good cup of camomile or peppermint tea for Suhoor is a great way to start the day, while black or green tea is a perfect beverage for Iftar.
Lastly, a gentle reminder that all of us are still battling COVID-19 so try your best to keep your visits to the grocery stores, bazaars and shopping malls to a minimum. Stay safe everyone.
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