Here comes that time of the year where 1.84 billion Muslims worldwide observe their fast during this Holy month of Ramadan. For Malaysia, Muslims started their first day of fasting on the 17thof May 2018. Muslims will be fasting from sunrise to sunset while abstaining themselves from eating and drinking (Oh Yes, not even a single drop of water). Smokers, watch out as smoking is prohibited as well while fasting! Ramadan is a month of self-discipline and empathy for all those living in poverty.
A whole day of fasting can surely be tedious for many as you tend to get dehydrated easily (Especially the hot weather in Malaysia!). Fortunately, Muslims in Malaysia will fast for around 14 hours daily – Well we have other countries such as Greenland whereby the fasting period is of 21 hours or even Norway which is 19 hours (Let’s be thankful that Malaysia is still doing good).
Given the everyday struggle to avert any unusual fatigue and dehydration while fasting, we are going to provide you with some tips about eating right during Suhoor (Pre-dawn meal) and Iftar (Breaking of fast) for your well-being; and to help you retain as much energy as possible throughout the day.
1. Drink as much water as possible
Water! More water! More and more water! Yes – Keep yourself hydrated! While you are unable to drink water during the day, try to drink plenty of fluids following Iftar time until Suhoor, especially if hot weather is expected during the day as in the case for Malaysia. For those who find it too hard to consume tasteless water (well we do have people who hate drinking water), you can always replace plain water with foods that put water into your body such as watermelon or prepare fresh juices and vegetable soups which can help your body obtain the additional water it needs.
2. Avoid caffeinated and carbonated drinks
While you may be very tempted to grab your usual coffee in the morning for Suhoor or an ice-cold Pepsi at Iftar which have been constantly on your mind the whole day while fasting, remember that caffeine tends to make people urinate more often which in turn can lead to faster dehydration. Fizzy drinks on the other hand are not recommended as well since these can provide too much sugars and calories at once, especially on an empty stomach. If you are craving for something sweet, you can use honey or take fruits that are more on the sweet side to satisfy your craving – OR let’s just save the sweets for Hari Raya (Eid-Ul-Fitr).
3. Avoid fried and junk foods
Resist Samosas and the fried spring rolls at Iftar? This surely seems pretty impossible! Well am definitely not trying to spoil the cultural tradition (I love Samosas too!!), but we all can try to think of healthier alternatives – consider baking them as an option for example instead of soaking them in heavy oil. Fried foods are usually more difficult to digest especially if they are the first foods you are consuming after a long fast. On the other hand, junk foods such as burgers and chips should be avoided as well as they do not contain the nutrients you need to go through the day or the long night of prayer. Just imagine if your food is giving you nothing in return for eating it, then it’s a total waste! Instead, you can seek out for healthier and halal-convenient options or shop for fresh fruits and vegetables – this way you’ll feel more satisfied. In fact, you may even find yourself needing to eat less of it than filler foods that hardly satisfy the stomach and make you crave more and more of them (Believe me, I’ve experienced it before).
4. Do not overeat!!
You wake up for Suhoor, start eating and eating and eating everything you can find until you hear the Azaan (call for prayer) and while breaking the fast, you follow the same trend and force your stomach to digest the abundance of foods you are throwing in – NO THAT’S NOT THE WAY! DO NOT OVERINDULGE! (You may be smiling now because that’s exactly what you do). While your hunger and thirst is understood, try to go easy on the foods. Remember to consume the right things and do not just take in everything you can find. For suhoor, you can opt to have oats, milk, high fibre breakfast cereals, yoghurts, wholemeal breads or even brown rice to give you the nutrients you need. As for Iftar, go for water, fruit juices, dates, fruits, soups and preferably baked foods instead of fried foods.
During Ramadan our diets are radically altered, as we eat only during Suhoor and Iftar. As such both these meals form an essential part of fasting. Fasting during Ramadan can improve one’s health, but only if done in a proper manner. If not, it can cause more harm than good. It is important to have self-control when you see a good spread of appetizing meals. The key is to remember that Ramadan is a month to reap rewards and benefits, and increase your spiritual connection.
We wish all the Muslims a healthy Ramadan! 🙂