by Tabassum Siddiqui, Head Designer
I pray that everyone is doing well this Ramadan and off to a fantastic start. With these longer fasts this summer, staying energetic, hydrated, and patient all at the same time is definitely a challenge. Over the past 8 years, I've incorporated a healthier diet and lifestyle that has not only helped me overcome some serious health problems, but as I’ve noticed, those healthy strategies have made Ramadan so much easier for me. I'm hydrated throughout the day, I have steady energy levels, and I'm much calmer. So I wanted to share my tips with you so that you can also have a more enjoyable Ramadan, and be able to focus more deeply on the spiritual aspect of this beautiful month.
I’ve also created a free downloadable juice and smoothie recipe printable for you to try out. These fresh juices that we drink at iftaar (the meal to break the fast) are hydrating and energizing, full of minerals, vitamins, protein and are low in fat. My smoothie recipe is one that I have at suhoor (the meal before the fast begins) that gives me an energy boost that lasts the entire day. It’s packed full of healthy goodness and tastes sooo great! Just click on the button below to get access to all that juicy-fruity goodness!
Tip #1 Staying Hydrated: We all tend to focus on the food in Ramadan so much to the point that when it’s iftaar, we are capable of eating ourselves into a food coma, making it impossible to think or move from the table let alone go to the masjid for Taraweeh prayers. First thing to do at suhoor and at iftaar is to drink ½ liter of filtered water or fresh juice (see free recipes below). Our bodies can better digest our food once it’s hydrated. So ideally it’s best to wait at least 10-15 mins. before eating after drinking fluids. In the case of iftaar, eat your dates after drinking your water, go pray Maghrib giving your body time to take in the fluids, and then have your dinner. I like to get in ½ liter of filtered water and ½ liter of fresh juice when I break my fast and at suhoor before I start my fast for optimal hydration. I also drink another ½ -1 liter of filtered water during the night. Another helpful tip is to avoid caffeine; sodas; and salty, fatty and heavy foods because they are not only unhealthy but dehydrate your body.
Tip #2 Staying energized during the fasting hours During Ramadan, many of us have to still work full-time jobs and have families, and a lot of people want to know how to stay full throughout the day and have enough energy while they’re fasting without feeling wiped out. One thing you shouldn’t do is tank up on heavy, fatty, salty foods and caffeine as I mentioned above. Those items take up A LOT of energy from your body to digest and aren’t nutritious. Eating whole fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and whole gluten-free grains and legumes is a healthy alternative that is easy for the body to digest leaving you feeling energized. Don’t worry, I’m not here to convert you into a vegan like me, but I just want to propose an alternative, especially for those who think that a plant based meal can’t be filling.
My suhoors start with ½ liter of filtered water, followed by ½ liter of freshly squeezed orange juice (200 calories). I wait 15 mins. Then I have my fruity green smoothie (see recipe below) which has mangos, giant dates, dark leafy baby greens, mixed berries, and ½ liter of filtered water, and sometimes I add a tablespoon of hulled hemp seeds (1000 calories). For iftaar we have our ½ liter of filtered water and/or ½ liter of fresh juice, dates and then a plant based dinner. The other night we had homemade organic gluten-free pita bread stuffed with homemade organic falafels (not fried), lightly grilled veggies, dark leafy baby greens, fresh tomato salsa, a bit of organic sauerkraut, and a pine nut yoghurt dressing (vegan). With our suhoor and iftaar combined we had 2000 calories for the day,which is a bit less than what we normally eat outside of Ramadan, but for what we are doing in Ramadan it’s the perfect amount for us. So remember, to add a nutritious punch to your suhoor and iftaar, don’t forget to incorporate some juicy ripe fruits, fresh juices, dark green leafy salads or add greens to your smoothies, a small handful of nuts or seeds, and whole grains and legumes.
Tip # 3 Slow down + no multitasking: Some of us are busy-bodies and are constantly doing stuff and starting new projects all the time. When Ramadan rolls around for some reason we go into overdrive wanting to make this the best Ramadan ever with the most amazing iftaars, having the house with the most lights on the block, and finishing the Qur'an- twice. Okay, we have to be a bit realistic and know that this is not all going to happen, and shouldn't. In our house we like to get ready before Ramadan starts and treat Ramadan as if it were a guest in our home. The house gets a thorough cleaning, we try to get any big projects for work done or make them more manageable, and I plan a month long meal plan so that I’m not scratching my head every night thinking, “ What’s for iftaar?”.
During the month, I keep my daily activities to a minimum and put more emphasis on trying to do more ibad’aah such as extra salaats, dhikr, reading Qur'an etc. I don’t jam pack my time in Ramadan with a never-ending to-do list. I choose the most important tasks that need to get done and try to keep them to a maximum of 3 priorities. I also make sure that I get enough sleep. Even if you are staying up at night to pray, definitely get your sleep in during the day. Make sure the room is completely dark and use an eye mask if necessary and ear plugs to block out the noise. Lastly, if you have planned some iftaar gatherings at your home this month, try to simplify them as much as possible by doing potlucks for examples and save the big over-the-top parties for Eid.
Tip #4 Staying fit: This one you probably weren't expecting, but yes it is possible to maintain a light exercise routine in Ramadan. I've adjusted my yoga routine so that it’s just under 30 mins. and I alternate it with a 20-30 min. walk in my neighborhood. This way, I get all the health benefits without leaving myself exhausted. I usually do it in the late afternoon when it’s cooler out and at the same time my husband goes for a quick swim at the beach and he says he feels great afterwards. Whatever exercise routine you do decide to do, keep it light and don’t overdo it this month, just be mindful of your energy levels before starting so that you don’t become fatigued later.
Don’t forget to download your free recipes below! Give the recipes a try and let me know what you think
Do you have any more healthy Ramadan tips to share? Share your comments and thoughts in the comments section below. If you like this, then please give it a thumb’s up and share it with all your family and friends!