A Guide to Breaking Your Fast During Ramadan

The Arab Hall
The Arab Hall | Courtesy of Leighton House Museum and Justin Barton

Ramadan is a holy month for Islamic societies wherein Muslims worldwide fast from sunrise to sundown. It is a month of charity, spirituality, and family closeness. For some, however, breaking their fast is a confusing aspect of the day. It is hard to maintain usual, healthy eating habits while hungry and counting down the second until the call for prayer. To these people, here is a guide to breaking your fast during Ramadan.

Vakil Mosque

Don’t overdo it

The problem with eating healthy in Ramadan is actually cooking healthy. While fasting, you feel like you would eat the world if it were on a plate, but in reality, you get up from the table day after day having eaten a couple of bites. Try to make better choices while cooking, and don’t make too many things. If you’re not the one doing the cooking, then keep reading.

Pace yourself

When ravenous, it’s not uncommon to dive directly into your appetizer and other food without giving your body another thought. In a lot of households, this is because feasts are laid out on the table. There are so many dishes that you may feel obligated to try everything. You don’t need to look far to find your answer to this problem. Just follow the etiquette set by the Prophet (pbuh): drink water and eat three dates (damp or dry) before eating. If you don’t like dates, try eating other dried fruits.

Persian tea served with raisins, dates, nuts, and cookies

Pace yourself again

Some people either eat really quickly or don’t eat at all in order to get up and pray. Scholars, however, have all ascertained that eating the entrées before getting up to pray is best. The food ensures that you are concentrating on the prayer and not the food. Again, some good advice: drink your water, eat your dates and soup, and then get up. The slow pace will help the food settle in your stomach and stop you from overeating. The next step goes without saying.

Make healthy choices

Again, hunger makes it tough to resist the meals saturated with fat and carbs. Sitting on the table, they smell and look good, and no one would blame you for wanting to devour them. Eating at a slow pace, again, would help you with this issue. Once you’ve had the desired amount of water, eaten dates and soup, and prayed, eat some salad. Don’t sit at the table with the mindset of limiting yourself—that’ll only make it harder to resist. Instead, eat all the healthy options, and you might find yourself full before you get to the carbs! Make sure to throw in some proteins into the mix. Maybe eat some meat along with your salad instead of eating the meat with rice or bread. (If you don’t eat meat, then try to eat your beans with a little bit of rice.)

Prepare yourself for the meal

A lot of people think it’s impossible to exercise while fasting. You’re tired, hungry and just frustrated with the knowledge that the last five minutes will be the longest. It’s better, however, to do light cardio for about 30 minutes when you’re fasting. That’ll not only help you stay disciplined, but it will also assist you with those few pounds everyone seems to gain during Ramadan. Just listen to your body, and don’t do this if fasting is already a struggle for you. Also, make sure to hydrate well after Iftar and at Suhoor.

Focus on healthy options

Speaking of Suhoor

A lot of Muslims skip this morning meal thinking that it’s healthier to eat Iftar only. Suhoor, however, can make or break your day; if you eat this meal, fasting can be so much easier and help you feel less ravenous during Iftar. The key during this time is to make the healthiest choice possible and stay hydrated. Indulge in a banana- and milk-based smoothie to help keep you hydrated and energetic. If you need carbs for an extra boost, eat some whole grain cereal or make a healthy, fruit enriched, pancake. Stay away from salty, high-fat foods as they’ll make you thirsty and uncomfortably full throughout the day.

Stay away from sweets

In a lot of households, the tradition is to indulge in local sweets over coffee after the meal. While it would be impossible to resist the enticing aromas, do try to limit your intake as much as possible and stay focused on that fruit bowl. Don’t deprive yourself if you’re used to this tradition, however, as it will only make the month more difficult.

Sweet Turkish baklava

It may seem very difficult to establish a strict routine at a time of hunger, but these small tips are easy and will have you effortlessly eating healthier. Remember, Ramadan is about discipline and challenging yourself. Make the most out of this holy month and don’t forget that your habits, while fasting, can either really help or harm your body.

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