Health tips for eating and fasting during Ramadan

Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims around the world. It is a time to connect with their religion, practice self-discipline and sacrifice, and empathize with those less fortunate encouraging actions of generosity of charity. Fasting during Ramadan involves not eating food or drinking fluids between sunrise and sunset for the entire month – for some people, this may be up to 16 hours a day.

Fueling your body to maintain your mental and physical stamina

During your morning meal (suhoor), you should aim to provide yourself with energy to last throughout the day. Eat whole grains paired with healthy fats and proteins as well as fruits and vegetables.

During your nighttime meal (iftar) you should work to replenish your energy levels by eating a well-blalanced meal from all major food groups. These include complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals, and healty fats.

It’s important to stay hydrated. Drink a minimum of eight to 12 glasses of water from the period of iftar to the time of suhoor to replace fluids lost during the day. Try to decrease sodium intake as salt stimulates thirst. Remember you can take water in other sources like fruits and vegetables as well.

If you are taking any medications, be sure to ask your health care provider if you should change your prescription, your schedule, or whether they can be taken without food or fluids.

Health benefits of Ramadan

Just like intermittent fasting has been found to have beneficial health effects, properly fasting during Ramadan has benefits as well. Scientists in the United States and the United Arab Emirates have found people who fast during the month and maintain healthy eating habits such as those recommended above, have increased mental focus, reduced level of cholesterol in the blood, lasting appetite reduction, and a more efficient metabolism.

Support a friend or colleague who is fasting during Ramadan

Remember to be patient with those who are fasting, whether it’s your kids, friends, family, or employees. Fasting may cause them to become tired or cranky from the lack of food, water, and sleep.

Be there to encourage them throughout the day and allow breaks for prayer. Try to be more flexible with scheduling meeting times, or talk with your employee about how they can still participate and recieve updates if they have to miss meetings.

If there is a physical activity required (recess), talk with your students about what they are comfortable participating in and try to work something out on days that they are lacking energy (card or board games).

Fasting is an important part of Ramadan, and can usually be accomplished safely. If you have any pre-existing health conditions — including pregnancy, breast-feeding, or diabetes or another illness — it’s best to consult with doctor before participating in fasting.

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