Holistic health coach on healthy fasting during Ramadan
Time Out Bahrain staff
Fresh from her workshop at Organic Foods and Café, holistic health coach Muneera Obaidli gives some pointers on staying healthy while fasting during Ramadan.
Are you making the most out of your fasting this Ramadan? Fasting not only affects our physical bodies, but every part of our lives. When we stop the over-indulgence that has become associated with our cultural Ramadan experience, our lives and our priorities become clearer and we can reap the true spiritual and physical benefits of fasting. Learning how to maximise your fasting will • Rest and heal your digestive system • Help cleanse and detoxify your body • Make you more aware of your eating patterns and cravings • Enable greater mental clarity and creativity • Increase your awareness of your emotional and behavioural patterns • Give you increased energy levels (after the first few days) • Allow for inner stillness, enhancing spiritual connection.
The physical benefits of fasting
Fasting initiates the body’s own healing mechanisms. As a result, any disease or imbalance in the body is likely to show improvement. The list of physical conditions that have been known to improve with fasting is endless including allergies, arthritis, digestive disorders of all kinds, skin conditions, cardiovascular disease and asthma.
The energetic benefits of fasting
Imagine you have a very tight schedule with the longest to-do list to complete in your eight to ten-hour day. You may feel stressed and unsure of how to prioritise which tasks are more important and which you can leave till later. Our body does the same when we overload it with too much food; it puts some of its “work” aside for another time. After every meal, especially heavy and unhealthy meals, more “work” is loaded on the body. This is why fasting is a gift to yourself, a time of rest and repair for your tired, overworked body.
During fasting, we rest our bodies from the constant cycle of digestion. It’s said around 65 per cent of our energy is spent on digestion. We usually think of food as giving us energy, but we seldom realise the food we eat requires energy to digest. When this energy is freed up, it can be diverted to healing and regeneration. It can detoxify and repair cells, tissues and organs and eliminate foreign toxins. In addition, it will help rest and cleanse the digestive/elimination system. When you’ve progressed past the stage of dealing with detox symptoms, a fast will have you feeling lighter, more energetic, more enthusiastic and requiring less sleep. When you’re constantly eating, you tend to feel heavy and tired.
Weight loss is, for many, one of the perks of fasting. Due to differences in metabolism/body chemistry, results will vary from person to person.
Fasting can create many opportunities to gain insights into your patterns of food intake and will make changes to your habits and lifestyle much easier to integrate.
Although weight loss may occur, fasting for spiritual reasons and to get healthy rather than to lose weight is a better approach. The anxiety about weight loss may add mental or emotional strain that will likely take away from the complete surrender that occurs when fasting for spiritual reasons.
Mental and emotional benefits of fasting
Fasting has been proven to increase mental clarity and focus. It can become a tool in helping you gain better mental, spiritual and physical health.
The effects of fasting on our spiritual connection has been very well documented in every religion. Another benefit of fasting is that it promotes journeying deeper into our own being. This process leads to a greater sense of acceptance and understanding of self and also with all the relationships in your life.
Without the constant burden of heavy foods bombarding the system (and after any major detox symptoms have passed), the body begins to take on a lighter, less dense, feeling. This helps to create a subtle separation from ordinary physical reality and everyday distractions, and instead you begin to sense the presence and power of something greater than yourself all around you. With fasting, meditation and prayer become clearer, higher states of consciousness become easier to attain and messages or guidance from the universe become more visible.
Top Five Fasting Tips
1. Eat more high water content vegetables after breaking your fast. This will assist the body in digestion, especially after fasting for many hours as the digestive system will still be sluggish. Leafy green vegetables as well as high moisture ones like squash are terrific additions.
2. Eat gluten-free for the duration of your fast. Our number one goal is to free up the body’s energy in order to gain the best spiritual and health benefits. Eating grains with gluten such as wheat, barley, rye and most conventional oats will put added strain on your digestion and will inhibit the detoxification process.
3. Say no to animal products. Animal-based foods have taken centre stage on most Ramadan dining tables. I’m not saying being vegan for life is for everyone, but eliminating animal flesh, eggs and dairy while on a fast will take a huge burden off your organs of elimination and will assist your cleansing effort. Also from an energetic perspective, animal foods are more dense vibrationally (especially the way animals are raised these days) and will inhibit the spiritual process.
4. Cut out sugar, caffeine and alcohol. Addiction to sugar and caffeine can make us overeat. We can easily become food addicts dependent on the next food “fix” to bring us back into balance. You can imagine how this would cause problems during the day while fasting, as your cravings and hunger levels would be much greater than if you exclude those products. Alcohol is made from sugar and has the same effect on the body. It is also shunned in many spiritual traditions, as it not only has a negative effect on the body (overburdening the liver and causing cravings), but it also dulls your mind-body connection by affecting your brain’s sensory input. When the mind-body connection is dulled, it is impossible to receive healing energy or divine guidance. Alcohol also depletes your body of its vital resources, making it susceptible to sickness and disease. Caffeine and alcohol can also lead to dehydration which is worse while fasting.
5. Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated while fasting is the greatest challenge especially in our hot weather. Make sure to drink plenty of spring water after breaking your fast and throughout your non-fasting hours. Try mixing in a pinch of sea salt with your water for better hydration. Dehydration begins to occur in your body when you lose more fluid than you are taking in. Many experts and doctors are now recommending the use of sea salt to help combat dehydration in the body. Do you think sea salt will make you more thirsty? Actually, sea salt contains more than 84 minerals and nutrients that our body needs and craves on a daily basis. It has been used throughout history for achieving and maintaining optimum health. Please note that TABLE salt (unlike sea salt) will make you thirsty. Pure, cheap, white table salt is harmful for our bodies and should not be used in a healthy diet.
Eating well during Ramadan
Breaking your fast on healthy, nutritious and easy to digest food is almost as important as the fast itself.
Muneera offers the 10 Day Vida Ramadan Detox Programme to have carefully balanced healing foods delivered daily right to your doorstep.