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Advice Column: Staying Physically Energized During Ramadan

July 18, 2013 by  


By Noor Hani Salem

blackbeanbrownies.wordpress.com

Questions: I tend to become very lazy during Ramadan and sleep all day. What can I eat to give me energy to fast?

noorsalem
Noor Salem

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Answer:

With Ramadan being in the midst of summer this year, we need nothing more than hydration to keep us going. However, Ramadan is not only about omitting food and drink from sunrise to sunset. It’s not about sleeping all day and waking up an hour before sunset to prepare a meal. It’s not about indulging all night and sleeping all day. No, Ramadan is a spiritual car wash for our souls. It’s a time to check in on ourselves, omitting desires, and focusing on what we were initially created for: worshipping Allah swt.

While we focus on our spiritual upbringing, we too need to focus on our physical well being. Instead of praying Maghrib and rushing to eat, set your intention to eat to nourish your body and be able to stand and pray. In this case, you make eating an act of worship and get rewarded for it if Allah wills. Set your intention to eat suhoor (small meal before sunrise) to worship and have energy all day. Set your intention to eat iftar (meal after sunset) to worship and pray during the night. Now, let me share a few tips on what to eat to stay hydrated, energized, and motivated all day long.

1)    Eat dates

•    I personally don’t question ANY food that was eaten by the Prophet (s) or recommended by him in hadith.

Narrated Anas Ibn Malik: The Messenger of Allah (s) used to break his fast before praying with some fresh dates, but if there were no fresh dates, he had a few dry dates, and if there were no dry dates, he took some mouthfuls of water… [Sunan Abu Dawud 2356 Book 14 Hadith 44]*
•    Fasting all day means facing difficulties reaching the required daily value for many essential vitamins and nutrients. Dates are known to provide many of these nutrients with just a few pieces.
•    Dates have immense health benefits, including high fiber, potassium, magnesium, copper, and B vitamins.
•    Dates are known to regulate blood sugar, weight loss, blood pressure, cancer, and arthritis. Dates also aid in bringing oxygen to the brain and in the forming of healthy skin.
•    Tip: Eat three or more dates at suhoor (meal before sunrise) to give you energy all day. Break your fast on dates and pray Maghrib. This regulates your blood sugar and causes you to not overeat at iftar.

2)    DON’T skip out on suhoor

•    Tip: Yes, it’s going to be 4am and yes it’s going to be difficult, by my number one advice: DON’T skip out on suhoor. The Prophet (s) advised us to eat suhoor and promised baraka (blessings) in suhoor.
Narrated Abu Hurairah: The Messenger of Allah (s) said: “Eat suhoor for in suhoor there is blessing” [Sunan Al- Nasa’i 2150 Book 22 Hadith 66**
•    There is truly nothing better than following the sunnah of the Prophet (s).
•    Eating a meal before sunrise will give you energy to keep going during the long day ahead of you. Also, eating this meal prior to fasting will cause you to not overeat at sunset, when it’s time to breakfast.
•    If you skip out on suhoor you are putting your body on starvation mode and actually only going to cause yourself to overindulge at iftar.
•    Tip: EAT SUHOOR!
o    Try a zatar pie, cheese pie, and some cucumbers, tomatoes and cup of orange juice
o    A bowl of steel cut oats or whole grain cereal and organic milk/almond milk
o    Don’t forget the dates. ;)

3)    Eat hydrating foods like watermelon, cucumbers, citrus fruit and tomatoes

•    It’s not only summer time, but we are fasting 17+ hours. Many of us have work and others are taking summer courses. We are going to lack energy and need as much nutrients as we can get from the food we eat. Hydrating yourself with water-dense foods would keep your body from dehydrating in the heat.
•    Other foods with high water content include: lettuce, cucumbers, pineapple, berries, citrus fruit, and spinach.
•    Tip: Have cucumbers with your suhoor along with other water-dense foods like lettuce, tomatoes, etc. End your suhoor with dates to satisfy your sweet tooth, energize you for the day, and balance your blood sugar.

4)    Drink plenty of water between iftar and suhoor

•    Again, it’s hot and we’re fasting long hours. It’s very important to drink plenty of water at iftar and suhoor.
•    Water is the most purifying drink, which aides in hydration, cleans out toxins from your body, and prevents you from getting headaches (especially when you’re not drinking or eating all day).
•    Tip: Skip the soda! Drinking soda with your iftar will only make you thirstier, and dehydrate your body more than it already is. Drink water with your meal and keep water at hand during the night. 

5)    Break your coffee and tea addiction

•    Regulate your body to get rid of your caffeine addiction before Ramadan starts if possible. If you are drinking 3-4 cups of coffee daily, and on the first day of Ramadan you don’t drink any, you may get headaches and lack energy.
•    Tip: If you really need energy, opt for dates instead. Coffee is said to dehydrate the body.

For healthy step by step recipes and tips visit my blog at: Blackbeanbrownies.wordpress.com.
Check out my weekly health advice column with The Muslim Observer newspaper or just visit their website:
http://muslimmedianetwork.com/mmn/ Feel free to email your questions to tmoquestions@gmail.com to be answered in the TMO health advice column.
*
http://sunnah.com/abudawud/14#44
** http://sunnah.com/nasai/22#61

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