In Islam, food is considered either a blessing or a curse writes medical student Aisha Mehmet. After a long day’s fast, an Iftar consisting of rich foods can be very tempting to overindulge in, to the point where some find it impossible to pray Isha, or feel too lazy to perform the Taraweeh prayers.
Fasting is a wonderful solution for our usual over-indulgences, and while there’s nothing wrong with enjoying food, excess intake of it on a continuous basis overburdens the body.
This is why Muslims are advised to avoid extremes, and to choose a moderate course in all affairs, including their eating habits. The religion of Islam has laid down the foundations of dietary regulations as well as the limitations within which it teaches its followers to enjoy the pleasures of life. This includes eating food in a moderate way, and not becoming a slave to his/her desires which may lead to losing sight of the ultimate spiritual goal which all Muslims strive to achieve during Ramadan.
Fasting is strongly correlated to our spirituality and it’s imperative to bear in mind that the entire purpose of fasting is to enhance this connection with Allah (swt). During the fast of Ramadan, the remembrance of Allah (swt) in the heart returns again and again, and without the continual addition of heavy foods, our body takes on a lighter, less dense feeling, which helps to create a subtle separation from our ordinary physical reality, and all the worldly affairs that come with it.
The message that comes loud and clear during Ramadan is this: “If you can fast for Allah, why can’t you live for Allah?” One of the main principles of good health is a balanced diet and during the holy month of Ramadan, our diet should not significantly differ from our normal food regime, and should be as simple as possible.
Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “Nothing is worse than a person who fills his stomach. It should be enough for the son of Adam to have a few bites to satisfy his hunger. If he wishes more, it should be: One-third for his food, one-third for his liquids, and one-third for his breath.” (Tirmidhi hadith no.47)
The Blessed Prophet (saw), further went onto emphasize that “the stomach is the home of disease, and abstinence (from food) is the head of every remedy. So make this your custom”, indicating that eating less is a method of preventing sickness and disease within our bodies.
The foods eaten during Ramadan should be well-balanced, containing items from each food group, i.e. fruits, vegetables, meat (chicken,fish), bread, cereals and dairy products.
In view of the long hours of fasting, it’s advisable to consume slow-digesting fibre containing-foods rather than fast-digesting foods. Slow-digesting foods can last up to 8 hours and include grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, whole meal flour, unpolished rice, etc. (called complex carbohydrates).
Fast-digesting foods on the other hand, last for only 3 to 4 hours and are foods that contain sugar, white flour, (called refined carbohydrates).
Fibre-containing foods are bran-containing nourishments like whole wheat, grains and seeds; vegetables like green beans, peas, spinach; unpeeled fruit and dry fruits especially apricots, figs pineapples and prunes.
Fried foods are unhealthy and should be limited, as they may cause indigestion, heart-burn, and promote weight gain. The Greek-Swiss physician and alchemist Paracelsus once said that “fasting is the greatest remedy-the physician within.” When we cease the over-indulgence of food that has become the norm in our modern world, our lives and our priorities become clearer.
As the body breaks down its fat reserves, it mobilizes and eliminates stored toxins. It also gives the digestive system a much-needed rest. After fasting, both digestion and elimination are invigorated.
Fasting also promotes the resolution of inflammatory processes, seen in cases of rheumatoid arthritis. Fasting quiets allergic reactions, including asthma and hay fever, and promotes the drying up of abnormal fluid accumulations, such as edema in the ankles and legs and swelling in the abdomen. Some may find that using weed grinders can help them find relief, but others may not wish to take this direction.
In the vast majority of cases, fasting can normalize blood pressure and may correct hypertension without the help of drugs. The blood pressure will remain low after the fast if the person follows a health-supporting diet and lifestyle. (Note: If you’re taking any medication at present to help lower your blood pressure, do not discontinue its use as a balanced diet is not a substitute for the actual medication, and only helps the medicine work more effectively in decreasing your blood pressure).
Moreover, fasting makes it easy to overcome ill habits and addictions and rapidly dissipates the craving for something like Nicotine, for example. We all know that smoking is a bad habit, so it would be within the best interest of the individual to give this up. Considering there are alternative methods such as trying nicotine patches, nicotine gum or even visiting a canada dispensary to buy a vape/accessories (as vaping is said to help people quit smoking), these are a few ways that smokers can soon enough give up this habit. Other addictions also include alcohol, caffeine, and other drugs. Fasting clears the skin and whitens the sclera of the eyes and restores taste appreciation for wholesome natural foods. Fasting is the perfect gateway to a healthy diet and lifestyle. Some may take part in yoga to help ease the mind during this time and bring about more focus. There is ryt 200 training online for those who want to learn more and bring their community together as one, in turn helping promote this healthy lifestyle as mentioned before.
According to Dr. Elson Haas, best-selling author of Staying Healthy with Nutrition, fasting has several medical benefits, including anti-aging effects, better attitude, better resistance to disease, better sleep, change of habits, clearer planning, clearer skin, creativity, diet changes, drug detoxification, improved senses (vision, hearing, taste), more clarity (mentally and emotionally), more energy and relaxation, new ideas, purification, reduction of allergies, rejuvenation, rest for digestive organs, revitalization, right use of will, spiritual awareness and weight loss.
Going on a fast gives you the motivation and enthusiasm to make a fresh start. Fasting initiates rapid weight loss with little or no hunger and many are left bewildered at how little desire for food they eventually come to have while fasting. Doctors have reported patients experiencing improved concentration, less anxiety, sleeping better and waking more refreshed. Goals begin to feel more obtainable as obstacles are put into proper focus. So to summarize:
Foods to Avoid
• Fried and fatty foods.
• Foods and drinks containing too much sugar.
• Over-eating especially at Suhoor (the meal before beginning the fast).
• Too much tea at Suhoor. Tea makes you pass more urine taking with it valuable mineral salts that your body would need during the day.
Foods to Eat
• Complex carbohydrates at Suhoor so that the food lasts longer making you less hungry.
• Haleem/Harees is an excellent source of protein and is a slow-digesting food.
• Dates are excellent source of sugar, fibre, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium.
• Almonds are rich in protein and fibre with less fat.
• Increase your intake of green vegetables, salads, and fruits (bananas are a good source of energy and contain potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates.
Drink as much water as possible to stay hydrated throughout the day and night, and fresh fruit juices between Iftar and bedtime so that your body may adjust and retain normal fluid levels.