11 HOT & HAPPY Tips To Fasting During Ramadhan!
Disclaimer: Before you go any further, please note that whatever I write is solely based on my personal readings and experiences. I’m not here to indoctrinate anyone, or impose my views, and that’s probably one of the reasons I’m posting this up in the middle of week-two of the month! Also, if you have any health-related problems, please consult with your doctor first.
Now let’s get down to business!
Ramadhan is a beautiful month. It’s a holy month in the Islamic calendar, where you will hear the words “abstinence”, “prohibit” and “forbidden” a lot. But I’m not going to talk about that today! I’m going to focus on what you can do! -What’s practical and what’s going to make your body, mind and soul shine!
My HOT & HAPPY Tips to Fasting during Ramadhan is enjoyable that it will make your fast more bearable, especially during the heat and the haze that some of us are experiencing! Above all, my HOT & HAPPY tips are to remind you that fasting during Ramadhan is something to be excited about! Put aside your old habits, or look at them from a different perspective…
1. Ramadhan is about fasting, but it’s also about food. So when you can eat, EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY!
And when you do break your fast, fill your body with delicious and loving foods!
Start every meal with fruits, water (NOT bottled water, save the landfills please!) or fresh juices you’ve blended or juiced yourself (add no sugar). If you want something more solid, then have a salad and work towards a more filling meal. I start most meals with water and fruits, and before my fast begins, I down a glass of water (with my supplements), too.
If you’re a bit on the lazy side with the juicer (and you’re just not into juicing), squeeze lemon or lime in a glass of water, or down herbal teas (non-caffeine).
Fill your tummy with soups, to replenish your body with liquid and minerals! Try to use seasalt rather than table salt, and herbs instead of pre-packed seasoning when cooking.
Say “no” to buffets! But if you want to indulge in it once in a while, please, please, don’t waste and don’t over-eat! Think before you put that 4th helping of rice on your plate!
Cook at home! Buying at the bazaar in general is over-priced and you don’t know what they’re putting in the food. Plus, if you’re a vegetarian or just trying it out once a week (I highly recommend it), then the bazaar is not always the best bet.
When you’re cooking, look for new and simple recipes online! My favourite thing to do is to flip through Jamie Oliver’s recipes and improvise from there. You can try making raw foods, which are not only limited to juices, salads and soups, but include meals and (everyone’s favourite) raw desserts!
2. Fasting is about renewal of energy, not lethargy!
The Muslim fast is to abstain you from all types of foods and drinks, unlike other types of fasts like water or juice fasting, it means that you’re NOT able to drink ANYTHING to cool your body down especially on a super hot day. So find other ways to detox!
Go on frequent toilet breaks, take ablution, wash your face or take a quick shower. What I try to do is dry brushing, and then scrubbing with gloves when I’m in the shower. I’ve also made a concoction of body scrub made out of sea salt or epsom salt (pounded till slightly smooth, not too grainy), my favourite essential oil, and a few squeezes of limes. Food for my skin! Delicious!
Move your body -a great way to detox. Some prefer to exercise early in the morning after a light breakfast, others opt for after fasting in the evening (before a heavier dinner)!
If exercising is too strenuous for you during this month, then keep yourself busy. Go around town and run errands that you’ve been procrastinating. Go to your favourite bookstore, go for a haircut, make your own facial recipes and make your bedroom into a spa, clean up your room, clean up your wardrobe and donate your clothes to a home or a charity store, go to a social gathering (a street theatre, a fundraising, a book launch, etc). The point is to MOVE!
3. Be around people who make you laugh! Find your lollapalooza! Find your muse, your idol, and your sanctuary!
And let your hair down!
It’s tough to fast. You have to wake up at 5AM everyday (or earlier, depending on your time zone), sometimes you wake up too late to eat anything, and you have to drag yourself to work on an extremely empty stomach. Then at 5PM, some of us have to work over-time, the rest of us have to go through an hour (or more) of traffic to reach home. And sometimes you have to deal with super-difficult and cranky people (maybe your boss) who make YOU feel irritated and ugly.
You might have to think this a bit or push it through your “but I’m nice” reflection on the mirror. But let’s be honest, if you can’t imagine yourself inviting them to your wedding or expecting them to show up in an emergency, then this is what you have to do…
Bring out your imaginary scissors, and snip away. Love yourself a little bit more this month by telling yourself “I deserve it” and “I have the right to be here”.
Ditch those backbiting friends you’re suppose to iftar with, and have a cook-off with your besties instead! Make them laugh and let them make you laugh!
Create social opportunities yourself instead of waiting for someone you’ve been wanting to know to approach you first. Maybe it’s an internship or volunteer job that you’ve been eyeing on for a while… If it’s intimidating, don’t leap for it. Just take that one… little… baby step. You’re almost there.
Find a place that you can be totally alone and relaxed. It can be a state of mind or a small corner in the park, or under your bed-sheet covers of your room. Take a deep breath and retreat into your sanctuary…
See: Gala Darling’s 50 Ways To Rescue The Worst Day Ever and 10 Really Easy Ways You Can Love Yourself More Today
4. Ramadhan is not about gaining weight. But it’s not about losing weight either.
If you’re losing a bit of weight in the day, rest assured, your body will be on survival mode and you’ll most likely gain in back during the night (if not after the fasting month).
Be grateful for what you have. Many in the world today do not have the luxury of choices we have. On the surface, fasting can seem minimal and stoic, but if you look at those who do not have enough to even break their fast with (heck, every month of the year is like fasting), fasting during Ramadhan is a luxurious choice.
But if you still want to lose weight to be healthier, Ramadhan isn’t the best time, because let’s admit it, starving yourself isn’t the best way. You’re going to feel hungrier the next day, and you need the energy to feel good for the rest of the month.
So when you break your fast, eat until you’re moderately satisfied, not stuffed. And if you’re still hungry after that, go ahead and have a snack! It’s okay to indulge once in a while, but most of the time, make sure it’s healthy!
5. Reduce your intake of anything toxic or bad for your body.
This includes cigarettes and coffee. Also, avoid simple sugars, fried and fatty foods, dairy (although I give a thumbs up to yogurt and the occasional cheese) and processed meats.
I don’t believe in the saying that you HAVE to break your fast with something sweet. Thinking you can get away with it by eating all those dates and kuih means you’re body is signaling a warning light. It’s saying, “you’re not eating enough good food”. If you have a sweet tooth and can’t say “no”, then have something sweet and but in a healthier form, like dark chocolate, bananas, and yogurt (but please look at the sugar content). I like comfort food filled with healthy fats like almonds and avocados.
6. Take your supplements!
This is not only for vegetarians and vegans! Even if you’re an omnivore (or a carnivore), you might not be getting enough vitamins and minerals in your love bod!
I usually take vitamin B complex as all vegetarians should, but when I am fasting, I take multi-vitamins. Middle of week-two, and I feel great! Other supplements which are considered herbal or traditional, may work with your needs, too. I’m taking BiO-LiFE’s Organic Spirulina which cost me only RM20 per bottle for 30 vegetarian capsules.
Again, consult with your doctor if you’re unsure.
7. Go organic AND local.
The two combination means a few things. Because it’s local, it makes the organic foods cheaper. And because it’s local, it makes your carbon footprint smaller! But if you can’t go organic, then stick to local foods as much as you can.
What about dates you ask? It’s practically a staple during Ramadhan, right? Well, I don’t consider it part of an important foods on my list. Once in a while, sure, but I don’t see it as a practical food to our climate and local Malaysian culture. Personally, I love the Slow Food movement and I stick to bananas.
8. Ramadhan is about resolutions and changes, and renewal of your love for yourself, for your family and friends, and for the Ultimate Being. But it is certainly NOT about changing others.
Don’t force your ideas, actions and preferences onto someone else, even if that person may be younger, weaker or the closest one to you. If that person needs an attitude adjustment, what would a whole month of fasting make a difference if the person is not ready? If that person does not want to go to the mosque for night prayers or terawih, will forcing that person to commit to your orders make him or her love fasting, praying and the mosque goers any more?
That being said, if you’re the one being forced to commit to something you’re just too tired to do, not ready to do, or don’t ever want to do, say “no”. However, if you somehow find yourself in the situation, then bring a favourite book to ease your mind, and a notebook or sketchbook to write down your ideas and thoughts.
Focus on yourself and what you can do to better yourself. Lead by example, and walk in your own shoes.
9. Up on your spiritual awareness, and attitude adjustment!
Spirituality, I believe, isn’t just about worship and religious duties. It isn’t only mellow and relaxing. It’s practical and at times can be in-your-face and out there!
However you pray or meditate, spend a little more time by yourself, thinking on ways you can improve areas of your personality in which you can work on.
If you find this hard to do and need more input, don’t force it, go to someone (NOT everyone!) you trust and ask him or her on ways you can improve. Don’t fight back, don’t defend yourself. Just listen and agree initially. What you want to do after that, is entirely up to you.
10. Shopping for your Eid/Raya clothes, cards and presents
If last year’s clothes still look brand new (most of us only wear it ONCE a year), then why not wear it again this year if it still fits you? If you’re bored with the whole outfit, take it to the tailors to refit or alter it for you. If that just won’t do, match it (or MISmatch it!) with a handbag, a few accessories and a pair of shoes from your local thrift store that will make your outfit feel brand new.
If you have old used or unused cards, cut them up and make them into new and funky hand-made cards. Do they have to be artistic? Not at all! They just have to be silly and outrageous! Throw in glitter, ribbons, threads, stickers, buttons, old CDs, magazine cut-ups, etc and for a finishing touch, spritz a bit of perfume on the card, of course!
11. If you can’t handle the heat, don’t think you’re quitting. Be kind to yourself, take a break.
If you wake up one morning and feel nauseous, call in work sick and take a day off. If in a couple of hours, you feel like you cannot bear to continue, then simply don’t fast.
Who cares if you don’t fast for a day or a couple of days out of the 30 days? Fasting during Ramadhan is not a sprint, and it is not even a marathon. There are no winners or losers here, and everyone has their own threshold and limit. If your body says “no”, then be kind. This is not quitting, this is common sense and practicality. You take care of yourself today, and you’ll feel so much better tomorrow. You can always pay-back your fasting days.
Also, if you can’t fast due to healthy problems and medical complications, then don’t force yourself! This article says something about it!
Much love on your sparkly Ramadhan,