Ramadan: The Health-Promoting Month in Disguise
Ramadan: Health-Promoting Month in Disguise
Fasting is defined in Collins dictionary as: “to abstain from eating all or certain foods or meals”. A few of us believe that fasting is a religious ritual that is found in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In fact, fasting is much broader than this. Fasting gives our body a chance to heal and repair itself. Even animals are aware of this fact! Theories suggest that since animals instinctively fast when sick or injured until their wound is restored, fasting could be traced back to pre-historic man too. The early great philosophers, thinkers and healers used fasting in healing therapy. Buddhist monks fast in their retreats to help them with self and mind-training as well as to focus on their meditation. Yoga masters believe that fasting is a natural method of healing of the body, mind and soul. Today, holistic healers and physicians use fasting as a healing technique too. Even dietitians created what they called-The Fasting Diet Clinics, to help people lose weight.
What are the benefits of fasting Ramadan?
1) Our bodies are full of toxins: whether it is from the chemicals in our food, the detergents we use at home, the skincare products that are full of chemicals or the polluted environment we live in. The holistic approach believes that if the body is given a break through fasting, the body has the ability to detoxify itself and get rid of all these toxins in a natural way such as through sweating, urine and stool.
2) Our digestive system is like a car’s engine. It needs to rest every once in a while to be able to last longer and perform better. Fasting gives a break to our digestive system and breakdown of food takes place at steady rates.
3) Some experts assert that fasting may promote healing of inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis.
4) Fasting promotes weight loss –as long as we break our fast the right way.
5) Fasting might help to fight addiction. Since abstaining from what you are addicted to for so many hours a day, can break your addictive habit if practiced for 30 days.
6) Our spiritual life is nourished through fasting since it reconnects us to our bodies, hearts and minds as well as people and the world around us.
7) Fasting is believed to tame criminal and sinful urges.
8) Fasting promotes a healthy diet. When you fast, you learn to discipline yourself against temptations. This is a training process that should help you say no to your unhealthy cravings at the end of those 30 days.
What is the right way to break our fast?
While you are fasting, your stomach shrinks and your intestines become idle, so solid food must be re-introduced very slowly to avoid kidney failure or digestive distress.
1) Start breaking your fast with water, since the most important thing is to re-hydrate your body.
2) Slowly ingest foods that are easily digestible such as dates, fruit and vegetable soup.
3) Follow this with protein and carbs and make sure you provide your body with a healthy and balanced diet.
What are the bad habits some people have during Ramadan?
1) Breaking their fast on carbs and protein and fried food which might strain their kidneys and digestive system.
2) Eating quickly and not chewing their food properly which leads to overeating and digestive problems.
3) Eating in front of the TV which is called mindless eating, one of the causes of obesity.
4) Non-stop eating from Maghrib to Fajr prayer which strains the digestive system, disturbs the insulin release in the body and leads to obesity.
5) Over-consumption of desserts, another cause of obesity and disturbance of insulin levels in the body which might lead to diabetes.
6) Drinking carbonated water, coffee, tea and sweetened beverages and neglecting plain water which leaves the body full of junk sugar and caffeine yet dehydrated!
7) If suffering from a specific illness, not consulting their medical doctor to check if they need a special diet during this month (or if they should avoid certain foods)
8) Not getting ready for Ramadan before it starts: by fasting a few days the previous months, cutting down on their caffeine intake or cigarettes or any form of addiction, doing a medical checkup and consulting their doctor to make sure they are eligible to fast for 30 days.
9) Skipping Sohour or having it too early in the day which makes it harder for them to fast.
10) Over-stress and under-sleep because of the banquets and meals they are constantly preparing. Try to make it easy for yourself by preparing as much food as you can that can be stored in the freezer. Ask for help whenever you can and remember it is a month for fasting not over-eating.
Finally, choose one addiction to drop this Ramadan. It could be an unhealthy food/drink or an unhealthy habit/behavior!
Have a blessed month
Noha is a certified Health Coach by Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator and a passionate mother of two. Through her blog, she hopes to empower families and parents to lead a healthy, happy and well balanced life inside out.