T he Holy Month is considered a time for reflection, reconciliation and charity. It’s observed by Muslims around the world, when they fast from sunrise until sunset, and then break their fast with iftar (literally meaning break fast), then begin their day with the pre-dawn meal called suhoor. However, with Ramadan falling at the peak of summer, Bahrain is experiencing longer daylight hours, and therefore fasting. So, how do you manage to keep your body in tip-top shape for 30 days of fasting? We ask Dr Ehab Saad Mostafa, a GCC-based rheumatologist, who recommends regular exercise prior to the first day of Ramadan.
“The hot summer months could lead to a dip in energy levels,” he says. “So engage in light cardio exercises, about a week before you begin fasting.” He suggests either a Zumba or yoga class, however, if you’re looking for something extra, go for a brisk 20-minute walk on the treadmill and do strength training like squats, lunges and sit-ups. As for preparing your appetite, Dr Mostafa suggests focusing on nutrient-rich foods and choosing sensible meals to prepare the body and maintain its health. “Make vegetables like carrots, beans and broccoli and leafy foods such as spinach the star of your plate, and avoid carbohydrate-rich food like lasagne and white rice, which you may crave during the first week of Ramadan.”
Remembering to hydrate from four to five days before Ramadan starts is also essential. It’s also especially important during Ramadan after sun down. “Nobody wants to be treated for dehydration in 46°C. Drink coconut water at suhoor,” suggests Dr Mostafa, to aid rehydration.
Optimum sun exposure to keep those vitamin D and energy levels up is also just as important as diet. “A prolonged lack of exposure to the sun can result in weakened bones, and this is particularly common during the summer months in the Middle East, when everyone is scared to go outside,” Dr Mostafa says.
Sound advice to help you prepare and then enjoy this time of reflection and self-discipline.
Three foods to avoid
Processed white food
Anything made with white flour – sugar, bread or rice – should be avoided after 9pm. Choose healthier alternatives like brown rice and quinoa. Fried food
Sambousek stuffed with lamb and spices may sound delicious, but your body won’t be able to digest it properly after a day of fasting.
Simple carbohydrates You may crave all the potatoes and pasta after a day of fasting, but be sure to pair them with protein-rich foods like beans, meat or eggs. Otherwise, you may risk bloating and indigestion.