10 Tips for a Healthy Ramadan
By Farhana Choudhury
A Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach.
1. Drink water
The most important tip that I can give everyone in preparation for Ramadan is, to start drinking water now! Adequate hydration is simple and important .Take hydration seriously and notice the difference this Ramadan when you’re better prepared for the long days and nights ahead and are able to think clearly, stay focused for longer, have fewer headaches or none at all! We all want to give it our 100% during worship and a dehydrated body will slow you down.
Increase your water intake by sipping more every day, between now and the first day of Ramadan you can easily build yourself up and remember to keep up the habit of drinking water during the holy month. The recommended allowance per day is 8 glasses. If the weather is hot or if you are more physically active, than you can choose to have more.
I hear this a lot – ‘When I drink water, I can’t stop going to the loo and so can’t carry on, Sorry!’ I want you to remember this, plants in well watered soil hold water better than plants in dry and crumbly soil due to no water. Our bodies are the same, when well hydrated, the body will hold fluids better and the loo trips will calm down. Make it less challenging – carry some water with you, put some in the fridge, on the table, in the kitchen, by your desk, in the bedroom, in the car, add some lemon to it, some fruit, some herbs …
If you prefer other cold beverages, iced cold vegetable juices and green juices are delicious! If you prefer hot drinks, Lemon, Ginger, Green Tea, Roobois, Camomile, Peppermint, Nettle, Fennel, are hydrating and quite good teas. Drinking water does not take much willpower or motivation. Your body will thank you for it, just do it!
2. Cut down on sugar and salt
Add less sugar and salt to your food, cut down on nibbles such as biscuits, cakes, crisps, soft drinks, carton drinks, pre packed foods etc. Fasting will be easier and you will feel the difference from previous years. You will save yourself from brain fog, water retention, bad moods, thirst and bad breath.
3. Eat slowly
You will need a clock, paper and a pen and do the following:
- Check the time when you start to eat and remember to chew properly.
- Jot down how long that meal takes you to finish and,
- At what time your belly felt satisfied.
At the next meal, increase the time it takes you to finish your meal. Jot it down and do 1, 2, and 3.
When you get to meal 3, increase to 20 minutes at least and do this at every meal until Ramadan. Do 1, 2, and 3.
Eating slowly is a powerful technique in becoming disciplined and mindful eaters. It can help control appetite, improve digestion, burn fat and can be a good way to shed some pounds in the run up to the blessed month. This is something that we can put into practice when breaking fast and during the pre-dawn meal. By taking the time to eat, we are giving the chance for food to break down properly, eat less while relishing meals, have better conversations around the dinner table or even engage in dhikr whilst having our meal. You will hopefully feel good from having a satisfied belly instead of feeling sluggish from having a full belly. Distinguish the difference between being full and feeling satisfied. You are feeding your belly and your brain. Notice a connection between the foods that you choose to put on your plate and your mood.
4. Start using a Tongue Cleaner
This is one of the best tools that I would recommend everyone to get hold of and use as regularly as they would use a toothbrush. Using a tongue cleaner should become a part of your dental hygiene routine, as it promotes healthy gums and teeth. By using one of these, you can get rid of more gunk than your toothbrush can, it will help to reduce bad breath and guess what? Help improve digestion. A healthy gut is connected to so much that happens within the body, the gut lining regenerates every few days, a good digestive system is central to your health! Your mouth is the portal to the rest of your body. Billions of bacteria populate in your mouth and they love to eat what you eat. Everyone has different micro-organism communities living in their mouth. To use a tongue cleaner to get rid of what ‘lives in your mouth’ is easy and your food will taste much better! They’re cheap to buy from the chemist. Give it a go.
5. Make peace with your wallet, your mind and your plate
Shops, supermarkets, malls, are designed to be attractive, pleasing and a pleasurable experience for you the customer, so you give them more of your money. Offers such as ‘Buy One, Get One Free’, are placed conveniently making sure that you see them and buy.
Do we always spend because we need what they have or because we want what we see or hear about on the tannoy or smell? Ask yourself this next time when you’re about to go into a shopping frenzy.
Talking about money isn’t always straightforward and can be quite an emotional subject to speak or think about. Some people link spending money to sadness or to happiness, quite often the after effects being regret. ‘Why did I spend my money on that?’
Ramadan is a time when Muslims go the extra mile with showing their generosity. Simple acts of compassion should not make you spiral into debt or regret and leave you penniless after Ramadan. Make a shopping list and stick to it. The more organised you become, the easier it will be to extend your generosity. Look after the health of your wallet.
Have a banquet with friends and make it affordable to you. Serve simple wholesome and nutritious foods, enjoy what you have on your plate and they will too. Buy someone you love a gift with the spare change, buy a homeless guy a bottle of water, put it towards a worthy cause or use it for a rainy day. Give your mind a break, stress can be a factor in inhibiting digestion. Bloating and gas during Ramadan … I don’t think anyone during Taraweeh prayers would appreciate that! Be kind to yourself, stop punishing yourself into thinking that others will judge you. Make dua, demonstrate simplicity and set trends!
6. Have a Bath
You will need a tub of Epsom Salts.
When using Epsom salts you need to add a ¼ cup to your bath water or follow the instructions on the tub. Soak for 15 minutes. They are not really salt so do not eat. They are tiny crystals that are rich in Magnesium. Magnesium is the spark of life! It is a mineral that helps the body relax, helps with muscle cramps, stress, chronic pain, dry skin, fatigue and a number of other ailments. The affects are calming to the body and could help with detoxifying the body of heavy metals. It would be ideal to use a few days before Ramadan and mid-month when you are struggling to stay motivated, your body starts to ache, your feet hurt, you are tired and you’ve not slept a wink! This would be an ideal way to reboot your body. Make sure to scrub off all of the salt from your skin and only use water. After Taraweeh prayers would be a good time to do this.
7. Cultivate healthy relationships
As human beings we have become experts in making excuses to avoid situations. Ramadan is a month of mercy, so this is a sincere reminder. Saying sorry is not the end of the world. Make excuses to make amends. Break this social barrier with a cup of tea, a chat, cuddle or comfortable or awkward silence. All relationships take some work whether they are your parents, children, grandparents, neighbours, friends, the shopkeeper etc. Food and relationships are similar, no one diet works for all and not all communication and relationships are the same. The way relationships are handled can be a reflection of a person’s quality of life and health. Don’t isolate yourself and others of each other’s awesomeness. Fulfil this human right. If you deleted their number in a fit of rage, don’t despair, you can always buy them a huge Watermelon and visit them instead. Health is power. Cheers to new beginnings!
8. Religiously dieting
One big problem I’ve noticed many chronic dieters struggling with is they fail to see the biggest opportunity right in front of them to lose weight or get healthy. They’re often so busy trying to find the right diet that they’re “supposed” to be doing that they miss the chances to discover the REAL permanent secrets that are just waiting for them. This is true whether someone is on their first diet or has been dieting for years. Then we enter into Ramadan and dieters want to redeem themselves in this month. Our lifestyle has to fit the timetable designed by Allah, this timetable is set and done for us. Healing our bodies through following the tips I’ve provided will help you take charge of your health, it is possible to lose weight and keep it off. It takes approximately 3-4 weeks for actions to become habits. Increase healthy habits and you will eventually start to see results.
9. Infuse oil
During Ramadan, we can spend more time in the kitchen than we need to, infuse oils with herbs and spices, mix them in a blender/grinder, portion them for the month into ice cube trays and freeze. Use as needed.
10. Have fun
During Ramadan, many stop ‘living’ in the day time, every day becomes a waiting game until iftar. I promise you that your situation is not hopeless, to break free from this you have to change how you do things. Organise some fun activities to take part in with your friends and family. Raise money for charity, feed the homeless. Learn new dua’s and their meanings, try new sunnah foods, recite Qur’an together, introduce Islam to your non-Muslim friends, let them know that there is more to Ramadan than pakoras and samosas. Boredom is not an option, It is OK to be playful, laugh, smile and be happy.