How to prepare for Ramadan.
During Ramadan, apart from worship and concerns of how to spiritually improve oneself, a lot of people get preoccupied with what they will cook or prepare for iftaar and suhoor for thirty straight days. Here are some tips that will help you eat right:
1. Know the importance of eating right
With the change in eating routines and habits, we may be oblivious to the fact that we could be putting on weight. We do not have the time to work out, nor do we focus on clean eating. It is Ramadan of course, so we have the belief that indulging in greasy foods for iftar/suhoor will give us energy throughout the day. The whole idea that greasy foods give us more energy is incorrect. In fact, heavy greasy meals make you feel fatigued faster when standing for long prayers.
2. Start from now
Don’t leave eating right till the day before Ramadan, it won’t help. Start eating healthy from today, from now, so Ramadan won’t feel like a healthy eating phase.
Also, start fasting from now, because in the first days of Ramadan, the physical burden on your body to function without food and water seems great. This difficulty gradually decreases as your body starts getting accustomed to the fast. Fast once a week, or on the Prophet(pbuh)’s sunnah of Mondays and Thursdays.
3. Have breakfast today, eat Suhoor with ease tomorrow
Many people forgo breakfast in the morning, citing a lack of time and even a lack of appetite. Similarly, people forgo Suhoor in Ramadan, citing a lack of appetite. Suhoor is a key to a more fulfilling fast, like breakfast is key to a more fulfilling day. The morning meal has long been linked to better test scores and more alert and focused minds.
4. Cut down on caffeine
A major complaint among Muslims who fast during Ramadan is headaches, which is a result of lack of caffeine. It is a stimulant which energizes our bodies and minds and helps us remain alert and happy during the day. In these days before the start of Ramadan, gradually reduce your caffeine intake by limiting the number of cups of tea and coffee. Hopefully, your chances of caffeine withdrawal will be significantly minimized or even eliminated by the onset of Ramadan.
For suhoor, it is imperative to drink plenty of water, eat a good blend of protein, carbohydrates, and essential fat. That’s right, “good fats” have many fat-burning and muscle-building properties, and their importance is even greater during Ramadan. Some good suhoor foods include:
- Egg whites (1 yolk)
- Chicken breast
- Cream of wheat
- Protein shake
- Raw, dark Honey
- Raisins or dates
- Fibrous vegetables
- Plenty of water
This is a key time for rehydration. We break our fast with dates and water but if you investigate this nutritionally, you will see that dates are very unique in their nutrient content. You should also eat some quality protein at iftaar time as well. Of course, drink plenty of water – in fact, keep a water bottle with you at all times after sunset! But don’t have too heavy an iftaar, eat small portions every 2 hours after sunset.