Tips for a healthy and fulfilling month of fasting for women
During Ramadan millions of Muslims all over the world embark on a month of fasting, reflection, and transformative spiritual growth at the same time in a collective act of worship. With long hours of fasting and stringent rules, it is a test of one’s faith and will. But the fast is particularly trying on women. With hormonal fluctuations throughout the month, having to continue housekeeping and caregiving duties with minimal rest, and even exercising to remain fit. With just two meals in a day, spaced more than 12 hours apart, it’s essential to pay attention to self-care, nutrition, and rest.
How can you have a safe and fulfilling fast? We have curated a list of tips to help you have a healthy and fulfilling Ramadan.
Eat an Energizing Suhoor
Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, should provide you with enough energy to sustain you throughout the day. Include complex carbohydrates, such as oats, whole grains, legumes, and vegetables to provide slow-releasing energy. Add a nourishing helping of protein-rich foods such as eggs, dairy, lean meats, or plant-based proteins and a dose of healthy fats from nuts, seeds, and avocados. Accompany this with plenty of water and hydrating fruits, such as watermelon, oranges, or grapes to prepare for the day ahead.
Have a Nourishing Iftar
Iftar, the evening meal, is equally important for replenishing energy and nutrients.
First, break your fast with some dates or a small amount of fruit for an immediate energy boost. Follow up with nutrient-dense, hydrating soups or broths to restore your water and electrolyte balance. With the long hours of fasting and carrying out your daily duties, it can be tempting to have a heavy meal. Avoid that, and have a balanced one, including lean proteins, whole grains, vegetables, and healthy fats in reasonable portions.
This is a great time to put your batch-cooking and meal-prepping skills to use! If you have to cook food for your whole family very early in the morning and early in the evening, try to stock your fridge and kitchen with your needs so you’re not hunting for oatmeal at 4 am!
Try batch-prepping: Cook the tadka of onions, ginger and garlic that go into many South Asian meals, rice, and dal in advance and refrigerate. Prepare the meat in large quantities, washing, spicing and marinating it, and then freezing it.
Don’t forget the hydrators that your family will want to guzzle down as soon as it’s time for iftar! Prepare big jars of homemade drinks, such as lemon water, fruit juice, and leave them in the fridge so they’re nice and cool by dusk.
Exercising? Listen to Your Body
It’s a great idea to keep up your fitness, especially if you’re working on building a consistent routine. And whether you choose to exercise or not is a personal choice! But you should pay attention to your body’s signals. Be mindful of the timing and intensity of your workouts. Ideally, opt for light exercises, such as walking, yoga, or stretching in the early morning, or in the evening after iftar. Avoid intense workouts during fasting hours to prevent dehydration and fatigue.
Get Enough Rest
Adequate sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night and try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule to allow plenty of time for recovery. If possible, take short naps during the day to help with the fatigue.
Support Your Mental Well-Being
Ramadan is a time for reflection and spiritual growth. Incorporate mindfulness practices, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, to help reduce stress and enhance your emotional well-being during this period. Connect with friends and family for support and encouragement during this time.
The rules of Ramadan say that you must avoid water during the fasting hours. But you still need to stay hydrated. Make sure you drink plenty of water outside those hours and incorporate healthy drinks, such as coconut water and cold soups. Stay away from sugary drinks and focus on salads and water-rich fruits, such as cantaloupes and melons. These are great additions to your iftar and suhoor meals. Avoid diuretics, such as coffee and tea, and wear comfortable, cooling clothes that minimize sweat. You’ll also want to keep a water bottle by your bedside and sip through the night to get ready for another day of fasting.