The holy month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and a time when many Muslims across the world fast during daylight hours for 29-30 days. The Islamic calendar is lunar and so Ramadan falls at a slightly earlier time in the year each year. In 2021 it is expected to start on 12 April.
Muslims taking part in Ramadan do not eat or drink anything during daylight hours, eating one meal (the ‘suhoor’ or ‘sehri’) just before dawn and another (the ‘iftar’) after sunset. The end of Ramadan is marked by ‘Eid-ul-Fitr’, the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. A special celebratory meal is eaten during the festival, the first daytime meal for a month.
Livewell advisor, Rania has created these helpful tips to help Muslims feel healthy and well during Ramadan.
- Do not skip breakfast (Suhur) - it's an important opportunity to nourish your body and keep hydrated.
- Eat a healthier breakfast (Suhur) filled with high fibre which gives you slow releasing energy throughout the day. Porridge is a great start and provides fluid as it's made with milk or water. Try adding dates for energy, seeds such as chia seeds for healthy fats and black cumin to boost your immune system.
- Avoid high sugar appetisers, open your fast with dates and water to increase energy as well as fruit salads or healthier soups. Try to include hydrating fruits and vegetables such as melon, strawberries, and oranges and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
- Use the Eat Well Guide to get a balance of healthier more sustained foods from across the different food groups.
- Don’t over eat when you open fast, this can slow you down and can make you feel sluggish. After a day of fasting discipline, resist this instinct and aim to eat in moderation.
- Drink plenty of water ideally 2-3 litres at Iftar (opening the fast) to Suhur (breakfast) and make sure you drink slowly and gradually throughout the night. Smoothies and soups will increase your fluid intake.
- Reduce salt in your diet, salt can make you thirsty, which will make the fast harder during the day.
- Make sure you fit in physical activity, even just a small bout of 10 minutes – for example, stretches after fajr (Morning Prayer) or 10 minutes’ walk before opening the fast. Livewell's Facebook page and You Tube channel are great sources of home workouts.
- Exercising before opening the fast will reduce your appetite and craving for unhealthier fatty and sugary foods.
- Take the strength and discipline developed during fasting to give up smoking. Livewell's friendly and supportive stop smoking service can help you to quit successfully.
- Ramadan normally includes get togethers with friends and family. Stay connected during the lockdown by arranging virtual iftars using the many online video calling facilities available and break your fasts together.
- Look after your mental health by practising mindfulness through spirituality and meditation.
- Make sure you have plenty of rest.