The holy month of Ramadan started a week ago and many people in the UAE are fasting while others explore actively the Iftar buffets, along participating in charity activities and prayers. But instead of fasting, physically and spiritually, a lot of Muslims are focusing on breaking the fast with heavy meals, huge portions and little mindfulness. It may be hard to starve all day, but unless you want to be rushed into the hospital, you need to know how to welcome Ramadan the healthy way.
Benefits of fasting
Fasting, as limited diet or entire deprivation of food, exists in every religion and culture around the world and there is a good reason for that. Ancient people knew what was good for them, although they could not explain it scientifically as we can do now. Doctors say when done the right way and for the right period of time, fasting is extremely beneficial for the body. It improves diabetic and pre-diabetic conditions, lowers the blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and can lead to weight loss. Done properly, fasting purifies the body from toxins and kick starts the immune system, which has a positive influence over your well-being throughout the year. However, there are some basics you should follow, if you want to see any effects from fasting.
How to do it the right way
Deprivation of food and liquids for many hours puts your body to its limits. The first several days are the hardest, but then you should be able to get used to it. In order to prevent headaches, a common side effect of fasting, try to cut your caffeine intake a week beforehand – caffeine withdrawal is the most probable cause of your headaches. Reduce your daily doses of coffee, but also cut the cola and soft drinks, as well as energy drinks, which may contain more caffeine than the label says. Of course, cut the alcohol and cigarettes, as they are pure toxins for the body.
Avoid overeating when breaking the fast! Start with a few dates and water or tea, and continue with small portions and lighter meals. High-fat and sugary foods aren’t the best idea – after a whole day of starvation, this will overload the digestion, leading to bloating, slow functioning, drowsiness, and even depression. Practice mindful eating and focus more on fluids to hydrate yourself.
Don’t forget that Ramadan is about purification of the body just as it is for the soul. Be positive and good to others, whether they are members of your family or strangers. Donate food, to those less fortunate and try to make a difference. Give your time and attention to people who need it – giving will make you a better and a happier person.
Working hours during Ramadan will be reduced, but that doesn’t mean you should show up at work late and sleepy, excusing yourself with long prayers and lack of sleep. Just as you give your food and time to charities, try to give your best in your job, too. Learn self-control and instead of staying awake all night, go to bed early.
Material vs. spiritual
Don’t indulge in shopping and holiday food – food is here only to support you, not to become the high point of Ramadan. This month should be more about reflection and connecting to the spiritual and all the things that really matter.
If you follow these simple tips, you will feel more energetic, more positive and happier during the holy month. And most of all – you will see the long-term benefits of fasting and restriction.