Ramadan and Fasting: Tips for Wellness
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the holy month in Islam, in which Muslims particularly seek spiritual rejuvenation through increased connection to God; along with prayer, charity, reading the Quran, and other acts of worship, fasting is an essential pillar to cleansing the soul in Ramadan.
Fasting during the month of Ramadan is comprised of refraining from food, drinks (including water), other substances, and sexual activity from sunrise (Fajr) to sunset (Maghrib) each day. This can be challenging at times, especially as the weather warms up, and important commitments such as exams for students often fall within Ramadan. You may feel a loss of energy when fasting, a disrupted sleep cycle, or other risks to your wellness. As such, it’s important to also take care of your physical and mental health along your spiritual journey as we enter Ramadan.
Here are some tips to maintain your wellness and balance if you are fasting for Ramadan:
- Hydrate and Maintain Electrolyte Balance: Upon breaking your fast at iftar (post-sunset meal), it’s important to hydrate yourself well with fluids to ensure you do not face dehydration. Drink lots of water throughout the iftar and into the night and try drinks with high electrolyte content to ensure you stay hydrated. Along with this, you may consider skipping coffee and other foods that are inherently dehydrating.
- Eat Balanced Suhoor Meals: When breaking your fast or at suhoor (pre-sunrise meal), it’s important to eat a balanced meal that will help keep you energized throughout the day. Lean proteins are essential, such as milk, yogurt, and eggs, or legumes, beans, and nuts for vegetarians.
- Breaking the Fast: Breaking the fast at iftar is traditionally done with dates, as they particularly can raise blood sugar levels to optimal levels. When you break your fast, try to avoid eating too much as quickly as you can; allow your body to enjoy the food. In addition, try to avoid fried foods and instead, aim for healthy carbs (e.g. brown rice, whole-wheat bread) and greens as these will help replenish your body with the nutrients it needs and boost your energy.
- Restructuring your Day and Sharing Expectations: Fasting can often make it difficult to concentrate, so try tackling tasks earlier in the day when you still have energy from suhoor, if possible. Also, be sure to communicate your expectations and needs to colleagues and peers so they are aware of how they can help support you while fasting.
- Engage in Mild Exercise (if able): Even though fasting may be exhausting, try your best to not be sedentary. Try milder exercise approaches such as taking short walks or stretching throughout the day to keep your energy up.
- Building Your Sleep Schedule: Considering you must wake up for suhoor and Fajr in the early hours of the day, it is difficult to get 7-8 hours of sleep in one block. Make a plan of how you’d like to split your sleep before and after suhoor, with naps later into the day as well.
- Find What Works Best for You: Fasting highly depends on your individual circumstances; if you are an at-risk individual (e.g., have diabetes, or other health conditions) consult your healthcare team to find out more information about fasting in a healthy matter.
During Ramadan, there are also various prayer spaces on campus (March 22-April 20):
- Spiritual Care and Learning Centre prayer and meditation spaces (MUSC 212): open daily until 9:30 pm
- Muslim Student Association prayer space (T13, rooms 101 and 104): open daily including for Taraweeh after Iftar
- Mills and Thode libraries prayer spaces: open Monday-Sunday during regular library hours
We hope you have a blessed Ramadan!Food & Nutrition, Physical Health