Introducing Ramadan to you – By Shafia
Ramadan is just round the corner and it is the utmost priority for Muslims around the world. Some observe fasts to gain closeness to Allah and to purify themselves. Whilst others just because it is part of Islam. Whatever your intention, being mindful of what you eat is essential.
Before moving on to that, I would like to introduce myself. I’m Shafia and I have just begun with Diabetes UK as a volunteer. As I have a background of Health and Wellbeing within the nutrition science field, it will be a good opportunity to utilise this knowledge to improve the experience of Ramadan for diabetics or otherwise. Many of us know what a healthy diet is, but the fast paced lifestyle puts this knowledge in the back of our minds and we do not apply it.
Whereas, during Ramadan it is important to observe fasts using a healthy diet, to keep energy up throughout the day. It is even more important if you are a diabetic.
So how many of us really know what to have at sehri? We may know what the best is but our habits take over once again. But this Ramadan, let’s change our mindset. Let’s begin by preparing ourselves to consume high energy, slow releasing foods. Best of them are wholewheat based foods, such as oats, bran and barley. Opt for wholewheat grains rather then processed white wheat based foods. For sehri, begin with whole oat porridge, this will ensure you get a slow energy release throughout the day.
While fasting, I tend to not do vigorous exercise and have a siesta in the middle of the day. This keeps my energy release constant and any bursts of energy required for heavy lifting or exercise is minimised, thus keeping the energy consumed at sehri at a constant level and lasting you longer.
Iftari is the most awaited time during Ramadan. Your stomach demands food and by the opening time of the fast arrives, you want to eat everything and fast! Taking it slow is the key, anything you eat will give you energy but choosing healthy foods will prepare you for the next fasting day. Iftari is also the time where you have to prepare for Tarawih, and being too full will not help with their completion. So eat lightly and in smaller portions. This year, the time span between iftari and sehri is very short, so having a large meal during iftari will leave no space for sehri, which will mean you will have less energy to last you the next fast. So have some fruit, fried foods are not good for you as we all know, but they are what I crave for! So what I do is, have some fruit first, a glass of water and by this time I don’t have much space to stomach a large amount, so 1 or 2 fried foods suffice.
Fasting some days before Ramadan also helps to prepare your body for the month long fasting and gives you an indication of how to manage your diet. Practice makes perfect after all.
These are my tips for fasting, adapt them to what suits you best, remember being mindful of what you eat is the key.