For mind, body and soul

Ramzan musings

For mind, body and soul

Overeating however during Ramzan is a big problem in all major Indian cities,  for, after breaking the fast, there are special localities (like Muhammad Ali Road in Mumbai, Chandni Chowk in Delhi) where high calorie food is available for the hungry.

Fasting, technically commences within the first 12 to 24 hours of the fast. A fast does not nutrition wise begin, until the carbohydrate stores in the body begin to be used as an energy source.  The fast will continue as long as the stored fat and carbohydrates are used for energy. Once the stored protein begins to be depleted for energy (resulting in loss of muscle mass) a person is technically starving.

Detoxification is the foremost argument presented by advocates of fasting. The definition of detoxification is that, “It is a normal body process of eliminating or neutralising toxins through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph glands, and skin.” At a very basic level, the act of fasting may be compared to an intensive workout at the gym, or any other strenuous physical exercise.

Though a person is exhausted, a sense of something meaningful accomplished leaves him more invigorated and strengthened in body and mind. And finally there is good scientific evidence to show that regulated fasting contributes to longer life. But Ramzan demands that you be be mentally as well as physically ready. For this, some important things have to be kept in mind. It is important to try and reorganise your routine ahead of Ramzan to lighten official workload. 

Examine your individual routine, or even collectively as a family beforehand, to prepare yourself for the month of fasting. Getting a good eight-hour sleep at night tends to become nearly impossible during the month, so prepare your mind and body by trying to sleep early. This will help you get out of bed fresh and energetic before sunrise. Getting the right amount of sleep also saves you from lethargy and dark circles around the eyes.
The traditional Ramzan meals, the Sehri and Iftaar should be carefully planned. Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet that contains food from all the major food groups—cereals, poultry, meat, fruits and vegetables. Experts say that binge eating at Iftaar— or during Sehri for that matter—has a negative effect on energy levels and an average healthy meal is best.

For Sehri — the meal before fasting, include slow-digesting foods such as those containing grains and seeds like barley, wheat, millets, oat, semolina, lentils, beans, wholemeal flour and unpolished rice. These last longer—up to eight hours and provide good energy, compared to fast-digesting foods such as those containing refined carbohydrates (white flour) and excess of refined sugar.

Avoid excess of spicy and fried items as they cause heartburn, obesity, acidity and also increase thirst. Samosas and kebabs are fine, as long as one doesn’t binge on them. You should prefer high-fibre food because they help counter heartburn as well as constipation.

Between Sehri and Iftaar, try to cut down on caffeinated drinks and beverages during Ramzan because these drinks actually increase urine output, robbing the body of essential minerals and salts, thus actually aggravating dehydration and muscle-cramping. To combat dehydration, drink lots of water - try having at least two glasses of water at a go. Keep off fizzy drinks and opt for herbal teas or unsweetened juices.

 If you’re having Iftaar and are also planning to have a late dinner, lighten either of the two meals and try to bring in a gap of at least three hours between the two. Also, for a more fulfiling sleep, avoid eating close to your bedtime. An Iftaar of fruit, juices and other light snacks, is recommended, followed by a light dinner later on if the need is felt.

Fast-digesting foods only last about three to four hours, resulting in lower energy levels throughout the day and thus, should be consumed preferably at Iftaar (light sandwiches, for example).

Juices and fresh fruits are a must for Iftaar as they restore essential minerals and water levels, thereby preventing dehydration, constipation, cramps, formation of kidney stones and lethargy. Dehydration and loss of calcium, magnesium and potassium will make you dizzy and tired easily and should not be taken lightly. Dates are a rich source of fibre, carbohydrates as well as some very essential minerals. Restraint is what Ramzan teaches and that is really the key to unlocking the joys of Ramzan.

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