Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cheater's Guide to Ramadan

I know it's already more than half way through Ramadan 2011, but thought I would share some of my quick tips and trips to make sure you stay healthy and nourished the whole way through.  Apologies in advance, none of these tips involve changing time, visiting Alaska or Egypt, or sneaking in food:

  1. Always, always wake up for sehri (pseudo-breakfast before starting the fast)

    • I know a lot of people who opt to skip this essential part of fasting; I'll skip the spiritual benefits here, and stick to the ain't easy to fast for 15-16 hours without food or drink.  Skipping sehri just makes your fast longer and harder

  2. Carb and protein load at sehri

    • Eating complex carbohydrates coupled with proteins will help you to remain fuller longer, and ease your fast

      • Make sure you pick the right carbs, since complex carbs take significantly longer to digest than simple ones: think steel cut oatmeal, multi-grain bread, whole-grain cereals, brown rice, or even hummous

      • Eggs are always a great option for protein; if you're not a fan, try a nice greek yogurt coupled with granola and berries

  3. Flax seed never hurt nobody

    • While the oil format of flax is a bit harsh, try drizzling ground flax seed meal over your meal; this is just another way to keep you fuller longer

  4. Reserve citrus for evening meals

    • Citrus fruits tend to breakdown your food even faster and increase digestion - this is not what you want when eating sehri

  5. Don't count calories

    • Embrace some slightly higher calorie options, especially for sehri; again, you're trying to stay fuller longer.  For instance, sub your non-fat milk or yogurt with low-fat substitutes

  6. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

    • Don't drink all your water at once, but rather try to split up your daily water needs; try 3 glasses in the morning and another 3 in the evening (throughout dinner and before you go to sleep)

  7. Avoid extra-curricular activities

    • Fasting is exhausting, and fasting and working is especially tiring; try to limit activities that can wait until after Ramadan: shopping, traveling for leisure, and if it's not a must, working out

  8. Fruit may be painful

    • If you open your fast with fruit (besides dates) or fried foods, you may find that you're in a bit of pain upon eating

      • Try opening your fast with a date, water, and some kind of carb (bread, light pasta, etc)

  9. Sleep

    • Do not underestimate the value of sleep during this month; do what you need to do in terms of prayer, etc, but limit other activities (TV/chatting unnecessarily on the phone, etc) so that you can get a good number of hours of sleep prior to sehri (this should make waking up significantly easier as well)