After 11 months of eating freely, shocking the body into a fast might seem like an unbeatable obstacle — here’s how we can help.
Imagine not consuming food and liquid for over 12 hours in a day. This is more than a mere thought for our Muslim friends during the month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims partake in this holy practice to express their deepest devotion towards Islamic teachings. Transitioning from 11 months of munching through the day, to a month where eating ceases when the sun is up can be a little hard to handle.
In the midst of this gruelling process, it has been observed that many compensate the hours of abstinence with binge eating. With the immense satisfaction from a surge of food entering a hungry stomach, it would seem hard to ease into the routine and spirit of fasting. However, eating the right food during Iftar—the time when Muslims break fast at dusk—could replenish both the body and the mind.
Physical & Mental Benefits
Starvation is often misaligned with fasting—depriving oneself from food completely does not capture the meaning of an actual fast. Through eating in moderation, this sacred process may serve as a blessing to your body too. To name a few, fasting helps reduce sugar levels, keeps the heart healthy and even starves cancerous cells in your body.
With all types of fast, the calorie count drops significantly. This urges your body to metabolise existing glycogen, which is actually a healthy way of detoxing the body, if you supply your body with the appropriate nutrition during Iftar. Clearing the body from food also prevents inflammation within the digestive system, which prevents diseases such as arthritis and psoriasis from surfacing.
On the mental side, many believe that the cold turkey treatment is an effective way to fight addiction, including binge eating or addiction to sugar. During the fasting month of Ramadan, Muslims believe that detox happens both in the body and in the mind.
As for the believe that eating after 7pm could negate weight loss efforts, this theory has only proven true in relation to the overall calorie intake for the day. It is not criminal to eat after dusk, and consuming the right kind of food could give you ample nutrition without forcing a couple of pounds onto you.
Fast Smart, Fast Healthy
Those looking to break their puasa or fasting with more nutritious options, we suggest three foods for you to try.
Packed full of water, which is what everyone obviously needs, watermelons may seem like an unorthodox choice for breaking a fast. The juicy fruit has high water content, and are rich in lycopene and citrulline, which are easily and quickly absorbed by the body. Although oranges and limes are also juicy, these citrus fruits have high acidity levels that may disrupt a fragile digestive system. Alternatives of watermelon include honeydew and grapes.
Another high water content food is broth or clear soups. They are the go-to dish for severe indigestion, the flavour of soups is limited only by the ingredients thrown into the pot. Play it safe by using vegetables that are bursting with vitamins A and E, both of which your body will need after a day’s fast. Vegetable soup also replenishes energy. Cabbage and kangkong are good choices.
One of the best forms of complex carbohydrates to consume with minimal disturbance to your digestion is sweet potato. The tuber has a decent glycemic index of 54, and is abundant in vitamins A and C, and potassium. Sweet potatoes also have enough iron to moot potential indigestion during Iftar. They are quick to digest, great to eat with almost anything, and can be cooked in a variety of ways. Baking is the most effective method of maintaining its nutrients, which means no frying and deep-frying.
While fasting is an annual action undertaken by Muslims—and Christians too, during Lent—anyone who wishes to take a food hiatus for a few hours in a day can benefit from it. By following the clever and simple tips provided here, your fast could set up a healthier future for you.