Nothing beats holidays that bring together food and family. But Ramadan isn’t just a sprint, this month-long holiday is a marathon of feasts and festivities. This year, take some time to be mindful of what your body needs and try out these tips to practice fasting in a way that leaves your body healthy and thriving at the end of the month:
1. Remember the 20-minute rule.
When Iftar time comes, it’s normal to feel like you want to put on some stretchy pants and fill your plate up. But just because you haven’t eaten all day, doesn’t mean your body is ready to take in three meals at once. From the moment you break your fast, it takes twenty minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full. Take your time as you eat, because you may find that you’re still eating when your body is already full. Eating slow and watching portion sizes helps your body to digest food more easily, better control blood sugar levels and it gives your body time to intuitively tell you when you’re full.
2. Diversify your plate.
After that first date, there’s nothing like some greasy samosas, warm bolani or spice-crusted kebab. But let’s pump the breaks before your plate is only one shade of the rainbow. Since you’ve missed a full day of nutrition, it’s important to ensure that your meals are balanced and include the following: protein, whole grains, healthy fats and fresh fruits and veggies. A plate with a lot of color, from a variety of produce, is a good goal. Making sure your Sehri meal is balanced is also just as important. Skip the frosted and baked goods for yogurt with dried fruit and nuts or oatmeal with almond butter.
3. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.
As soon as the sun sets and up until the minute it rises, keep your water bottle glued to your hip. Getting about eight glasses (or half a gallon) of water per day is critical to staying hydrated and ensuring a healthy fast. This means drinking at Iftar, throughout the evening and getting some H2O in at Sehri is a must. One easy hack would be to invest in a 64 ounce water bottle and have a goal of finishing one full bottle between sunset and sunrise.
4. Find gentle ways to keep your body active.
Ramadan may interrupt your regular gym routine but it’s important to stay moving. Keep activities light and scattered throughout the day so your body doesn’t feel overwhelmed. Take a mid-day walk around the block, do some gentle stretching and consider a moderate intensity workout after Iftar if you feel up for it. Avoid high intensity workouts during this month.
5. Listen to your body.
While a big focus of Ramadan is fasting, it’s not the only focus. Ramadan is an opportunity to grow personally, give back to your community and get closer to neighbors and loved ones. Listen to your body for cues if fasting feels like it could be too much for your body. Even just a day of fasting can be taxing on the body. Be sure to check with your doctor to make sure that you can fast safely.
Ramadan Mubarak! Happy fasting!