Bismillah. It’s here. Alhamdulilah. A month of high status. Last one in the UK summer. Are we ready? What do we do, health-wise? Nutritionally speaking we have to maintain our energy levels so we can get through the long day, 16 hours to be exact.
Start the suhoor with a filling breakfast. You need protein every morning. Avoid beige foods ie white bread/pasta/rice. Even if you have the traditional South Asian paratha or flatbread, have it with an egg for a slow energy release throughout the day.
The best sources, aside from egg are:
- turkey (yes a bit difficult to fathom in the early hours)
- complex carbs
- whole-grain bread
- and vegetables alongside healthy fats such as nut butters.
Yes, it may take preparation but it can be done the night before, such as soaking the oats (making them more easily digested (get rid of the water)) or cooking the turkey/salmon & refrigerating it.
Or have a wholesome smoothie with:
- oats (for the fibre & thickness)
- dates/honey (for essential vitamins & minerals & sweetness)
- flax/chia/hemp (fibre & protein) seeds
This equals to a nutrient-dense drink with energy, fibre (otherwise known as roughage; good for digestion & feeds good gut bacteria & keeping us fuller for longer), omega 3 fats and antioxidants (protective against free radicals (lone electron molecule) made during metabolism which can cause damage to body cells. Breakfast doesn’t have to be just for breakfast. It’s just another meal, well pre-dawn meal in this case. Have your supplements. Most often a multivitamin. Please be aware you should consult your doctor if there are any contraindications/for medical advice.
Stay awake until fajr if you can as this is the most blessed time of the day; mornings. Make dhikr. Read Quran, divide it so you can aim to complete it by the end of Ramadan. Nap in the afternoon if you have to, qailulah as it’s Islamically known. It doesn’t have to be sleep, it can just be a rest. There’s never one way to do anything. There are several ways, whatever works for you. Trying your best is the whole point, as we are people who believe
‘My success is only by Allah,’ [11:88].
Our long fasts could be considered as One Meal A Day (or OMAD) if we stick to a one hour window of eating or if you skip suhoor which you shouldn’t as it’s a sunnah (or 2x/day).
It’s possible if you’re really committed to losing weight or just to improve your health for a month.
Benefits include better insulin management meaning lower blood sugar levels. Causes of insulin resistance include overeating, belly fat, (a symptom of insulin resistance also) bad diet/ high sugar intake, inflammation (when it becomes too much of a good thing) inactivity and genetics.
It is good to increase insulin sensitivity which means blood glucose is low/metabolised better due to the body using it more effectively.
Choose foods with higher fibre, like whole fruit (don’t forget to pair with nuts) rather than juiced and a lower GI (glycaemic index: the ability of a carb to increase blood glucose level) and glycaemic load to aid insulin sensitivity.
This would prevent excess glucose to be stored in the body by not burning quickly. It would have a slow burn with complex carbs and long-lasting proteins. Apply similar rules to the iftar, have meat/fish/lentils with vegetables for nourishment and feeding after fasting.
Eat lightly. Avoid quick burns. Don’t overeat. Hydrate. Have a walk. Pray esha. Sleep soon after. Wake for suhoor. Eat. Hydrate. Pray. Remember the hadith of ‘then he may fill it with a third of his food, a third of his drink, and a third of his breath,’ referring to the stomach. As always medical advice should be sought with any type of extreme practise.
So make the most of this blessed month. Bow your head more in ruku and sujood, offer two rakah after wudhu or salahtul duha. Give 5 minutes to Allah SWT. Give charity. Science states blood flow is increased in this position whilst stagnant blood is flushed. It’s also advised to patients in hospitals. Heart above your head, submission to the Creator and an increase in energy and creativity simultaneously. Wow. Everything Allah SWT asks and orders us to do is for us. So make it count. Ajar is multiplied. The gates of Jannah are open. Shaytan and his eternal abode are locked away. Delete the app if you have to. Like TikTok. I have. Treat this and every Ramadan as your last. Say ‘Indeed I am fasting’ if you are compromised in your manners as per the hadith.
Designate a workspace. Have operating hours. Prioritise important tasks. Time block your calendar. Structure your day. Factor in rest. Take a break. Time to think and be creative. Maintain work/life balance. Manage stress levels. Remember to wake at the same time every morning to establish a routine. Diet/activity(movement)/sleep. Cherries can induce sleep due to their melatonin content. Good for getting restful sleep before another day of this holy month Insha’Allah. Ramadan Kareem!
Please refer to my previous blog for more detail on lifestyle choices.