Health Tips for Fasting During Ramadan

Adapt Your Lifestyle During the Ramadan Fast

The fasing of Ramadan is rigorous during the best of times, and when it falls during long and hot summer days, the fast can last as long as sixteen or more hours at a time. Even for Muslims in the best of health, this can be challenging, and those with health issues of any kind may find themselves at definite risk. To ensure adequate nutrition and continued good health, follow these tips when practicing the fast during Ramadan: 

  • Prior to Ramadan, always consult with a doctor about the safety of fasting in individual health circumstances. If your doctor advises against it, you can make arrangments to make up your fast later. 
  • Even if you are generally healthy, recognize that Ramadan will take a toll. Plan your schedule and meals ahead of time in order to make sure you get the nutrients, hydration, and rest that you need.
  • Eat suhoor just prior to dawn, and avoid the temptation to sleep in and skip the predawn meal. Yes, it's hard to get up at that hour, which is why it has many benefits and rewards. It will help you to wake up for the Fajr prayer. The suhoor meal is Sunnah--proper, prescribed behavior for Muslims. And this morning meal is generally recognized as the single most important meal of the day. Do not overeat, though. Focus on taking in foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates and protein, plus fruits or vegetables and plenty of water. For example, an excellent suhoor might consist of an egg on whole-grain toast, a few crackers with peanut butter, some orange slices and two glasses of water.
  • During the hottest part of the day, stay in cool areas (indoors or in shade) and limit your physical activity. Rest if possible.
  • Avoid gorging yourself when breaking the fast at sunset. Follow the Sunnah: break your fast with dates and either milk, water or fruit juice. After the Maghrib prayer, continue with a light starter, such as soup and crackers. After a long period of fasting, you need to bring your fluids and blood sugar level up gradually but without overdoing it.
  • During the early evening (after Maghrib), have a healthy and balanced dinner. Do not overeat, and be sure to drink a few more glasses of fluids.
  • During the evening hours, resist the temptation to drink tea, coffee, soda or other beverages with caffeine in them.  When you are visiting friends or family, ask for glasses of water and politely decline other beverages. 
  • Serve yourself, your family and guests a "dessert" of fresh fruit and nuts. There are lovely choices available in this season, and they are much more healthful than chocolates and candy or other sweets.
  • Sip on water throughout the evening. Aim for eight glasses by bedtime. To help you keep track, fill and refill a water bottle with a measured amount of water, and be sure to finish it.
  • Light exercise, such as walking for 15 to 20 minutes, is best done in the evening hours and will assist with sleep. Avoid heavy exercise. 
  • Avoid fried and spicy foods, as they may cause heartburn or indigestion.
  • Speak to your doctor about an appropriate multi-vitamin to take during the fast. 
  • Continue to brush and floss your teeth several times a day.
  • Wash your hands regularly, and avoid anyone who coughs or sneezes. This is important to prevent the spread of viruses (such as seasonal flu and H1N1) and bacteria that may cause illness.
  • Quit smoking!
  • Organize your schedule so that you get enough sleep.