Few weeks away is the most awaited month of the year, Ramadan. A time for reflection, for connection, for quality time with family and friends, and of course shorter hours in the office. However, the first few days or even the first week of the Holy Month does come as a challenge, especially for coffee drinkers, sugar lovers and generally food lovers.
From my experience with working people, I have noticed that when they take part in my 6-week Health and Lifestyle program, starting the fasting month becomes easier and actually very enjoyable. As one has already gotten rid off the coffee and sugar addictions, and is walking into the month a lot more hydrated than otherwise.
So my first strong advice before Ramadan even starts, is to stop the coffee and sweets at least 7 days in advance, and start drinking a lot more water! Minimum 2-2.5 Liters a day! Especially with the weather getting warmer, we need our cells to stay hydrated. That way you will be able to walk with ease into the Holy Month and not experience any headaches, sluggishness or fatigue.
Once Ramadan has begun, here are my top 5 tips on how to support your body and health throughout:
1. Coconut Water: Break your fast with Coconut Water – available at all supermarkets, you can purchase giant fresh coconuts either from Sri Lanka or Oman for as little as 3-4dhs. Fresh coconut water is very hydrating, full of electrolytes and minerals that our body has been missing all day during the fast. Do not purchase packaged coconut water, even though it says “organic”, “fresh” or “no preservatives”, nothing beats the quality and benefits of the real coconut water.
2. Probiotics: Purchase a Probiotic Supplement (recommended brand BioCare from Organic Food & Café), dosage 30bn, and take 1 capsule before you indulge into your Iftar. The Probiotic is intended to help you digest the meal, eliminate any feeling of bloatness and balance out your gut flora. One of the very important steps for a healthy digestive system throughout and after Ramadan!
3. Fruit Bowl: Once you had your coconut water, your Probiotic capsule and your usual date if desired, have a small bowl of low sugar fruits from the following: berries, kiwi, pear, apple, banana, orange, guava, passion fruit or pineapple. The fruits will wake up your digestive system, give you the freshness and energy and prepare you for your big meal.
4. Iftar Meal: For Iftar, my strongest recommendation is to not mix chicken, red meat and fish. Choose one protein and have that for the evening. I would even go further by advising to have red meat only every three days, as it takes 72 hours to digest. It does take a lot of the body’s energy and after all in this fasting month, your body may not be at its strongest or even at 100% functioning mode.
5. Suhoor Meal: Don’t skip Suhoor! I understand it may be a little early to wake up, and you would rather have a lie in. However, having a nutritious filling Suhoor makes all the difference for the day. I do not advice to have chicken/fish or meat, but instead treat it like a healthy breakfast time. Prepare yourself a green smoothie with chia seeds for extra protein, boil or scramble eggs with some veggies on the side and if you desire more, have a wholewheat toasted bread with avocado slices. This meal will certainly wake you up no matter what time of the day, because it is just so delicious!
General recommendations would also be to complete 2.5 Liters before retiring to sleep, to substitute white rice with brown rice, to avoid eating too many sweets and try to completely avoid coffee! Having coffee at Iftar can be so damaging to the nervous system, digestive system and the kidney functioning. Why? Simply, because you haven’t been drinking water all day, your body is very dehydrated and your kidneys’ acidity increases, adding coffee on top of it all will dehydrate you even more, increase body acidity and prevent you from quality deep sleep. Do yourself a favo
r and avoid the coffee for that month.
To conclude, I always highlight the true meaning of Ramadan – time for personal reflection, intimacy with your religion and spending more time with your family. Let’s not make it about the daily feasts, but more about cleansing the body and the mind!