The practice of fasting in Ramadan, is of the spiritual outlook, so as to bring one closer to God. These 29/30 days are to immerse oneself in prayers, reading of holy books, thinking about positive things and being generous and doing charity. The presence of God and His blessings can be sensed all around and the positive results of the prayers are expedited, during these divine days.
Through this time period, one attempts to control the senses and have more command over body and its demands. This fast trains the body and the mind to ascend to higher levels.
We are hereby focusing on the ‘eating’ aspect of this fast
The eating period commences after the evening prayers with iftar and continues through the night till the sehri next early morning. There are no restrictions on the kind of food that can be eaten during this period, in comparison with the other days.
Rules of Fasting
- The first rule is that one cannot eat any food or drink water, after Sehri in the morning.
- After the evening prayers, one can eat food during Iftar.
- Then, one can eat any amount of food through the night till Sehri the next morning.
Tips for Ramadan Fasting:
Water, fruits and even cold soups like gazpacho are the perfect ways to keep the body hydrated, without taking in extra calories, particularly as Ramadan, this time is in summer months.
Coconut water sipped, frequently, from iftar to sehri is a delicious source of hydration and it is mineral-rich too. Fruits like oranges, water melon and cucumber give the body both energy and water, minus the empty calories. However, water should always be sipped slowly and unwearyingly.
- Staple should be wisely chosen:
The staple food of any place, be it rice, wheat, jowar, bajra, should still form the major portion of the meals. These should be taken in as unpolished(as close to it’s original state, as possible) form as much as possible, for e.g., in Rajasthan, instead of jowar roti, jowar dalia or khichdi should be consumed. Brown Rice to be preferred to white Rice. The more complex the grain is, the longer it will take to digest, giving the body a feeling of fulfillment in terms of food.
- Protein Choices:
For the non-vegetarians, there are various Red meat & lean meat options like fish and chicken as protein source to the body; but so as to make it lighter, the chicken should be skinless and the fat should preferably be removed.For the non-vegetarians, there are various Red meat & lean meat options like fish and chicken as protein source to the body; but so as to make it lighter, the chicken should be skinless and the fat should preferably be removed.
- Iftar Parties
Another popular event during these days are the iftar parties. Although it is always good to have the grouping of similar energies, which when together, inspire each other and re-enforce uplifting influence, yet, it is the indulgent choices of food that defeat the whole purpose of fasting; the food consisting of rich, heavy meals laden with oil, sugar, salt, refined carbs and fat.However, if people realize that it is the combined energy of praying and breaking the fast together that matters; and not the food-indulgence and thereby moving to healthier menus – that’d be win-win situation.
Fundamentals of Consumption During Ramadan
The main battle is to control one’s urges and not give in to temptation, especially for water during these hot summer weeks. The most important aspect is to follow a pattern of eating meals in such a manner that it provides the body with all its energy necessities and should turn this period from being a challenge to an advantage, in terms of establishing healthier eating patterns.
- One should completely avoid gulping down water at the time of breaking the fast. This causes the air to be gulped along with water causing flatulence & discomfort
- Sehri is an important meal, though some people prefer sleeping to it. It should be prioritized as it reduces the long time gap between the last meal and the one taken for breaking the fast, after the sunset
- Quantity of food consumed during sehri should not be gobbled with a sense of over-preparation for the fasting hours of the day. Though for the first few days, one may eat more and then, gradually reduce the amount of food intake over the days.
- The Ramadan is a period of 29-30 days so the prudent approach is to progressively increase the mind and body control, especially in terms food, thereby reducing the food intake over time, while keeping in step with one’s daily routine.
- The purpose of the fast is to cleanse the body, hence deep fried food should be completely avoided during the first 2-4 days, particularly. The nutritious cooking methods like steaming, grilling or roasting need to be adapted so that the body still feels satiated and can get the required energy too from the food.
- Apart from this, the amount of salt and sugar should also be judiciously consumed, so as to enhance the body’s functioning despite reduced water intake during the day. Addition of herbs and/or dried nuts (crushed or chopped) can contribute delectable taste & flavor, alongside, offsetting the salt/sugar lessening.
- Do it for the Right Reasons:
This fasting should be done as a supplication to Allah and not as a means to lose weight. The intent for this should be purely spiritual. This is a month long period, during which even if one is able to lose some weight, it will be temporary and will come back soon if not done correctly. It can also lead to weight gain if one is not careful about the kind of food that is eaten and indulges in heavy, oily or rich food.
- Be determined about it:
The shift from eating regularly to within a limited amount of time should be done with a calm mind & determination.