Making the most of Ramadhan fasting
( This article was published in Oman Daily Observer, Oman's most prestigious Newspapers.The article is reproduced with the permission of the author )
EXPERTS say you can fast comfortably and enjoy fully the spiritual and physiological benefits of Ramadhan if you practice certain doís and doníts. These tips can bring about tremendous positive changes in your life. During the Holy Month of Ramadhan, our diet should be as simple as possible. The diet should be such that we maintain our normal weight, neither losing nor gaining. However, if one is over-weight, Ramadhan is an ideal time to normalise oneís weight.
In view of the long hours of fasting, one should consume slow-digesting foods such as fibre containing-foods like sprouts rather than fast-digesting foods. Slow digesting foods last up to 8 hours, while fast-digesting foods last for only 3 to 4 hours, according to experts
Slow-digesting foods: Slow-digesting foods are foods that contain grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, whole meal flour and unpolished rice, called complex carbohydrates. Fibre-containing foods are bran-containing foods, whole wheat, grains and seeds, vegetables like green beans, peas, sem (papry), marrow, mealies, spinach, and other herbs like methie, the leaves of beetroot (iron-rich), fruit with skin, dried fruit especially dried apricots, figs and prunes and almonds.
Avoid fast-burning foods such as foods containing sugar, white flour, (called refined carbohydrates). The foods eaten should be well-balanced, containing foods from each food group, ie fruits, vegetables, meat/chicken/fish, bread/cereals and dairy products. Fried foods are unhealthy and should be limited. They cause indigestion, heartburn and weight problems.
It is important to avoid fried and fatty foods, foods containing too much sugar, and over-eating especially during the meal before dawn (Suhur). Too much tea during the meal before dawn (Suhur) is not good because it makes you pass more urine taking with it valuable mineral salts that your body would need during the day. Smoking cigarettes is not at all good. If you cannot give up smoking, cut down gradually. Smoking is unhealthy and one should stop completely.
In the pre-dawn meal (Suhur), one should eat complex carbohydrates so that the food lasts longer making you less hungry. Haleem is an excellent source of protein and is a slow-burning food. Dates are excellent source of sugar, fibre, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium. Almonds are rich in protein and fibre with less fat. Bananas are a good source of potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates. All these are good for the pre-dawn meal.
Drink as much water or fruit juices as possible between Iftar (breaking fasting) and bedtime so that your body may adjust fluid levels in time. To be sure, constipation, which can cause piles (haemorrhoids), and indigestion is due to too much refined foods, too little water and not enough fibre in the diet. The remedy is to avoid excessive refined foods, increase water intake, use bran in baking, brown flour when making roti.
Indigestion is due to eating too much fried and fatty foods, spicy foods, and foods that produce wind eg eggs, cabbage, lentils, carbonated drinks. The remedy is not over-eating. Drink fruit juices or better still drink water. Avoid fried foods. It is important to go in for light exercises such as walking during the non-fasting hours. To be sure, the five times Salah (prayers) also include several useful exercises. Therefore, offer the Salah with great concentration and never in a hurry.
Prayers offered in congregations are all the more important as they develop and deepen love, goodwill and understanding and a sense of brotherhood and unity in society. It is like organising a conference five times a day at the same permanent location ó the mosque.