Do you find yourself lacking energy during the day, and only find yourself lazier after having a heavy iftar? Ramadan is a blessed month in which we should yearn to make the most of our worship. It’s not about sleeping all day, and having iftar parties followed by gatherings at night. Shift your focus, renew your intentions, and care for your physical condition. Keep at heart this hadith before attempting to spend your Ramadan days asleep and Ramadan nights socializing while indulging in food and drink. Ibn `Abbas narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) Health and free time for doing good.” (Sahih al Bukhari Book 81, Hadith 1). By renewing our intentions to care for our health in order to maximize and perfect our worship, we can gain reward too. Here are a few tips I can suggest for you to optimize your energy and health in Ramadan.
First off, follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) and have Suhoor, which is a small meal before dawn. Yes, it’s not going to be easy to wake up in the middle of the night to eat, but recognize the reward and immense benefit it will provide you with. Having suhoor comes with barakah, as stated in the following hadith. “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: Eat Suhoor, for in suhoor there is blessing.” (Sunan Al- Nasa’i). Having a small meal before sunrise will undoubtedly give you energy to keep going during the day. Skipping out on this meal in fact, will put your body at starvation mode, causing you to overindulge at iftar time. Even if it’s just having a few dates and water, don’t skip out on this blessed habit.
Next, make sure that you’re staying well hydrated. Fasting numerous hours during the summer is going to dehydrate you. Make sure that you have plenty of water at suhoor and iftar, and during the night if you are up for prayer. Aside from just drinking water though, include hydrating foods into your meals like cucumbers, watermelon, lettuce, pineapple, greens, citrus fruits, and berries. Parallel to that; try to limit foods that cause you to dehydrate like deep fried food, overly salty foods, soda, and too many sweets. Yes, you are fasting all day long, but it doesn’t mean you should overindulge on deep fried foods at iftar.
Subsequently, make sure to have dates included in your diet during Ramadan. Dates are not only a food from the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), but they come along with innumerable health benefits for us. Since we are fasting all day long, we may lack adequate vitamins and minerals. Eating dates at suhoor and iftar however, will give you those nutrients. Dates are high in fiber, potassium, magnesium, copper, and a number of B Vitamins. They provide the body with energy, regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, and reduce the risk of cancer, arthritis and diabetes. Dates also aid in facilitating oxygen to your brain. What more can we ask for in something so sweet and delicious? Make sure to have dates at suhoor and iftar for reward of following a Sunnah, as well as a method of maximizing your energy.
Furthermore, I’d advise that you try to limit, if not completely eliminate, any fried food from your Ramadan menu. Yes, I know, Ramadan comes with tradition of iftar parties, full of piles of samosas, fatoush salad, and deep fried sweets. For the sake of your health, and intention of increasing your acts of worship, make some changes this year. Fried food will make you feel sluggish and heavy after the meal, that’s aside all the negative influence it has on your health.
Are you a coffee addict? Do you drink a few cups of coffee a day? If so, try to minimize that from now so that your body does not go into shock mode the first day of fasting. It’s not going to be easy if you just leap into fasting and eliminate your coffee completely. You’re going to have possible withdrawal effects like headaches, laziness, fatigue, etc. Having some coffee at suhoor or iftar is fine, as long as you don’t over consume it as it dehydrates the body.
Use a miswak! Miswak is a teeth cleaning twig made from the Arak tree, known as Salvadora persica. It’s not only a Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), but today it is proven to have incredible health benefits. Abu Hurairah narrated that Allah’s Messenger said: “If it were not that it would be difficult on my nation, then I would have ordered them to use the Siwak for each prayer.” (Jami’at -Tirmidhi Book 1: Hadith 22)
That’s right; something mentioned in the Sunnah 1400+ years ago is today scientifically proven to have wonderful benefits for us. Use it during Ramadan especially, when your breath many not smell its best from lack of food and drink. Make your spouse and those around you happy and brush with a miswak during the day while fasting. Miswak has been proven to carry antibacterial benefits, has anti-inflammatory benefits, relieves smelly breath, whitens the teeth, and minimizes plaque plus gingivitis. It’s remarkable, I concur.
I pray that these suggestions can be implemented into your goals this Ramadan. Renew your intentions, and give it your best. May Allah (swt) accept from us all.
Editor’s Note: Noor Salem is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, and is CEO of her own wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition, LLC. Noor specialized in women’s health, weight loss, and food intolerance versus allergies. She offers individual and group health coaching programs, and is a speaker on the topic of holistic health at workshops and seminars. The views expressed here are her own.