- Fasting is mandatory for Muslim believers which they observe for spiritual and physical well-being.
- Healthy eating during Ramadan fasting has an immense outcome on the body and is not levied upon everyone, specifically those whose health is compromised, as it can have detrimental effects.
- As part of Ramadan fasting rules, it will be of great benefit if we eat healthy to meet the required calories during Ramadan.
- By eating healthy diets during the Ramadan fasting period, a person can ensure that even though they are fasting, they still have enough energy for the body to continue functioning normally without any issues. When fasting our body weight is reduced but with healthy eating our energy will be restored.
- Healthy eating includes food from different food groups including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat.
Fasting is a mandatory religious obligation of Muslims. During the holy month of Ramadan, they commit to abstain from eating food or even drinking any water from sunrise till sunset for about a month. You might have heard that fasting has adverse effects on health. However, in this particular practice among Muslims, it is considered a type of meditation that is done to achieve certain goals pertaining to spiritual and general well-being. How fasting works for our body and mind, and how we can ensure that we maintain the basic caloric requirements during this time, keep reading!
Do You Know What Fasting is?
“SAWM” is the Arabic terminology for fasting. Sawm is to abstain from having regular meals from the “Fajar” prayer to the Maghrib prayer, or we can say Dawn to the Dusk. The Holy Quran emphasizes the importance of fasting during Ramadan by saying:
Another Quranic verse highlighting this period of fasting says: “The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So, whoever sights the month, let him fast.”
As a Muslim, you have to abide by the rules decreed by Islam during this ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Among the five basic pillars of Islam, fasting during Ramadan is the fourth pillar. Muslim men and women around the globe, when fasting refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and several other activities. Many of us find fasting challenging. How can someone fast for fourteen to eighteen hours, from Dawn till Dusk?
Well, the answer to this is Muslims Fast because of their “Taqwa” or “Iman” on Allah (God). Taqwa is an Arabic word that means faith or gratitude towards Allah (God). For example, if you want to drink or eat secretly, your heart stops you. This is Taqwa. This is a battle between the heart and brain saying ‘‘I won’t disobey Allah (God) until maghrib prayer calls to break the fast.”
Fasting in Islam focuses on controlling our thoughts and desires. One must partake in charity work, show virtue, and practice kindness, patience, and love during Ramadan.
Rules of Fasting During Ramadan:
There are a few rules and guides in Islam to undertake fasting during Ramadan. A person can only have two meals throughout the whole day. One is at Suhr, before sunrise, when you can have your breakfast and the second meal is Iftar when you break the fast. Suhr meals provide sufficient energy to the body to complete everyday activities. It is preferable to take whole grains that are rich in carbohydrates, dates, and low-fat milk during this meal. While Iftar meals help us to re-energize our dehydrated and energy-drained bodies. Lavish meals at Iftar times start with dates because of their numerous benefits.
You might be concerned that being unable to have midday snacks or refreshing drinks throughout the day might result in an inability of your body to function or for it to take a toll on your health. However, the body will function if a proper diet is followed during the allotted meal times during this period of fasting. Fasting provides ample time for the body to use stored body reserves such as fats and proteins. You are advised to adopt healthy eating during Ramadan fasting to cut off your body weight and remain active the whole month.
Am I Exempted from the Ramadan Fasting Rules?
So if fasting is exempted for Muslims, are there any exemptions to this? The answer is yes- if someone is unable to fast for health concerns or any other reasons during this time. Here are some instances where people would be exempt from fasting:
1. Those who are chronically sick with -deteriorating health. People who fall into this group are not compelled to fast but they have to pay- ”Fidyah”. Fidyah is an offering of two meals of Suhr and Iftar for missed fasts or giving an equal sum of money to the poor. Diabetic patients are also not required to fast as there is an increased risk of hypoglycemia and severe dehydration. However, it still is the individual’s choice and they may fast if they feel they are able to. Similarly, children before puberty are also exempted because fasting can result in depleted energy demands needed for healthy brain and physical activities.
2. Pregnant, nursing, and menstruating women should not fast in these timeframes. However, they may fast for those number of days at a later date to compensate. There are certain health risks if a woman fasts during any of the above-mentioned times. For example, if a nursing mother fasts it can affect potassium and milk levels.
3. Fasting isn’t imposed on any person who has to travel for any serious reasons. However, there are no exemptions for those who are traveling for leisure or holiday.
To prevent health from being negatively impacted there are certain ways in which fasting can be undertaken as per Islam.
The Dos and Don’ts of Fasting:
The Ramadan fasting guide is super easy to follow to ensure that anyone fasting gains the best from the experience. However, there are certain Dos and Don’ts of fasting that should be followed by those fasting during Ramadan.
- You will invalidate your fast by ingestion of food or liquid. Though unintentionally having a sip of water will not break the fast.
- Sexual contact during the time of fasting, smoking, entertaining evil thoughts, or arguments can also void fasting.
- One should abstain from cruelty, hurting, or disrespecting others, especially during Ramadan. Islam teaches us to be polite, humble, and generous when fasting.
- Fasting brings us blessings and rewards if you offer prayers five times a day, recite the Quran, and give Zakat and Fitr charity to those in need.
- Taking any medication orally or intravenously, even eye drops while fasting will invalidate it.
- Brushing your teeth during fasting hours can also negate fasting.
- If involuntary vomiting occurs during the fasting period, it will not be affected.
- Taking a shower or swimming is fine as long as the water is not sipped.
- It is also recommended to eat healthy and simple feasts. Energy levels drop during fasting hours so take foods rich in fiber and in large quantities.
Now, let‘s go through the effects of nutrition on our bodies during Ramadan.
Or how fasting affects our body?
How Does the Body Respond to Fasting?
Fasting is a religious tradition, so it is important to understand the response of the body to it.
Fasting has amazing effects on our bodies. However, it is important to maintain a balanced diet while fasting to ensure overall health. Foods such as dried fruits (including dates), fresh fruits, yogurt, and vegetables along with plenty of water in meals at Suhr and Iftar compensate for the body’s stress. Calories obtained from these food items will maintain your body’s glucose level and uphold energy levels.
Avoid using artificial sugars, oily or saturated fats, and processed foods. If you’re consuming more than 11.8g of sugars and more than 3g of fats per 100g, you are at risk. Home-cooked food from all five food groups meets the energy demand during fasting periods.
Whole grains can give you a kickstart, bursting with nutrients to provide energy throughout the whole day. If you’re thinking of fasting do include more from this group. Whole grains provide carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and minerals and are sufficient energy reserves. Taking cereals, oats, and bread with natural sugars such as dates, nuts, and honey will be a good energy supplement.
Dates and Dry Fruits:
Having dates when breaking the fast, is Sunnah in Islam. Sunnah is a practice Prophet Muhammad performed. Science and research also revealed nutritional values and the importance of date. Dates are naturally enriched with potassium, copper, manganese, folate, dietary fibers, and vitamins. It’s a gift for a healthy heart and life as eating dates, lowers blood pressure levels and risks of heart diseases. It also normalizes your low sugar levels due to fasting. Nutritional count in dates comprises potassium 680mg of, a total dietary fiber level of 9.8g, folate 9µg, and vitamin C 1.2 mg per 100g serving.
Whether or not you are fasting, add dates to your food plate.
Diary and Meat:
Food from this group is full of proteins. Chicken, meat, legumes, nuts, yogurt, milk, fish, and beans are a valuable addition to body nourishment. During fasting body shifts to an empty stomach for a day; so, to maintain health, one should have more proteins.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables:
Most of us know the importance of fresh vegetables and fruits for healthy living. In fasting you can replenish the body’s needs for sugar and water by taking in fresh fruit juices such as watermelon or oranges. Blitz carrots, peas, corn, or tomato soups in the Iftar meals will provide your body with vitamins and minerals.
You can face dehydration because of fasting. So try to have more water intake than usual. A person must consume 8-12 glasses of water This doesn’t mean you over-dilute your body with water and electrolytes all at once.
You should satisfy hunger instead of going overboard at iftar meals. Eating more than needed is always damaging. Fasting during Ramadan is healthy if you keep your eating, sleeping, and physical behaviors on track.
Ramadan is a month of blessing with the hardship of refraining from food and liquid intake. Fasting means waking up early before dawn and having Suhr with empty stomachs till dusk in Maghrib when we break the fast.
One should delightfully practice fasting by setting up healthy eating habits. Fasting can cause health issues such as a drop in blood sugar levels and dehydration, but if nourished properly in non-fasting hours this can be prevented. Dates are the best part of Ramadan. They provide a high number of calories to retain blood sugar levels. Fasting can have an impact on cholesterol levels, diabetes, and other illnesses. We recommend consulting a physician for assistance before fasting.
Fasting has evident effects on the human body and mind. We abstain from eating and drinking during fasting hours which stresses out our bodies. Keeping a healthy diet can help us achieve Ramadan goals customary by Islam. Offering prayers, giving charity, being humble, and avoiding ungrateful acts are the heartiest sides of fasting.