The 7 Habits for Staying Healthy this Ramadan

With the arrival of Ramadan, we could all feel that sense of excitement mixed with a slight undertone of panic as we realize that we’re wholly unprepared. For participating Muslims, our plans are usually thrown off, and it’s difficult to balance our daily obligations with our religious ones with the added dimension of fasting. We don’t get enough sleep, we either eat too much or not at all and we’re constantly feeling drained, behind and frustrated.

But, there’s no need to worry just yet. Simple changes in routine and behaviour can make all the difference in your Ramadan and allow you to lead a healthy and balanced life during the holy month.

1 – Don’t underestimate the power of the afternoon nap

When you make it a consistent habit to take a power nap during the afternoon, it can give you the needed energy-boost to get through the remainder of your day and freshen up. It can also help you later at night when you wake up for Suhoor and Fajr prayer. Our suggestion: 15-20 minute nap during the middle of your day (Anywhere between 12 PM to 3 PM, depending on your schedule.)

To learn more about power naps and how different nap lengths affect your mind and body, check out the infographic below.

2 – After Iftar, take a short stroll instead of sleeping

It is all too easy to give into the lethargy that hits you like a ton of bricks upon finishing your Iftar. This Ramadan, challenge yourself to take a leisurely walk after Iftar. A study by the International Journal of General Medicine suggests that walking right after a meal is recommended for staying fit. We have all heard of waiting anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour after a meal before performing any physical activity, but that is – despite popular opinion – not a general rule. It depends on the type of food you eat, the length and pace of your activity, and your own personal experience. So, give it a try and ease into it!

Disclaimer: If you feel pain, extreme discomfort, or stomach ache, don’t force yourself to keep moving. Listen to your body.

3 – Eat plenty of snacks during non-fasting hours

When it comes to eating this Ramadan, remember: slow and steady wins the race. Quickly shoving food down your mouth or eating exceedingly large amounts will lead to feeling tired and hungry. Instead, go for smaller, more regular amounts throughout the day between Maghrib and Fajr. Eating five small meals is healthier and more filling than two large ones. And, take your time with the food. There’s no rush. Remember that your body hasn’t taken in anything all day and will need some time to adjust.  

4 – Avoid the sun between 12 PM to 4 PM

The day is getting longer, the sun is getting stronger, and the wind is dying down. Summer is inevitable, but a heat stroke doesn’t have to be. When you’re fasting, stay indoors during the peak heat hours. If you have to go outside, make sure you’re wearing light material clothing and that you have protective sun gear (Cap, glasses, or an umbrella.) It can make all the difference towards preserving your body.

5 – Do not skip Suhoor

Sometimes, you eat too much at Iftar and decide to skip Suhoor, other times you’d just rather sleep. However, according to Khaleej Times, doctors and nutritionists advise against doing so. Skipping Suhoor could increase your chances of suffering a heat stroke. Instead, go for a light meal before turning in for the day. Recommended types of Suhoor include complex carbohydrates like wheat and grain, high-fibre food like vegetables, cereal and dates, and protein-rich food like eggs and yogurt. These take longer to digest, help you keep up your energy and curb your appetite throughout the next day.  

Bonus tip: Avoid taking in any caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas, etc.) along with Suhoor because that could also lead to dehydration and disruption to your sleep pattern.

6 – Take timed work breaks

Work generally stagnates around Egypt during the holy month, and while we make endless jokes throughout the year about it; it’s actually not a bad thing. You are, most likely, either studying or working for long and strenuous hours on a day-to-day basis, and so Ramadan gives you the needed flexibility to let go of some of that work stress and focus on the individual. However, instead of squeezing all the day’s work into four hours, try spreading it out with timed breaks in between. It will allow you to get more things done and make the most out of your day instead of just exhausting yourself and crashing until Iftar the second you get home.

Bonus tip: Try the 52-minute work, 17-minute break structure for maximizing your productivity without paying for it with your health.  

7 – Practice mindful meditation

Ramadan is a golden opportunity to detoxify your body, mind and soul. We often fall into the trap of focusing on the physical struggle and neglect the opportunity that Ramadan presents for taking care of our mental and emotional health. Lack of food and shorter work days frees up hours that you could spend on practicing how to relax and be mindful of the moment you’re in. Start with daily meditation sessions, even as short as ten minutes, in which you allow yourself to pause, sit in silence and reflect without worrying about the busy demands of day-to-day life.

To help keep up with all of the above, sit down every weekend and put a schedule for your sleep, prayer, rest, exercise and work to make the most out of your Ramadan. Test out the plan on a weekly basis and adjust as you go along.

Developing the habit of paying extra attention to the needs of your mind and body during Ramadan will help you carry those habits along with you to the rest of the year. Ramadan is a time of cleansing and spirituality, so use it to work on your health, build better habits, reset your mind, and plan for the year ahead.

Happy Ramadan from the Going Deep family!