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Having a healthy Ramadan: tips for both Muslims and non-Muslims this month
Posted on May 25, 2017 by Luther
Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic calendar and is known around the world as the time when Muslims take to fasting. In 2017, this tradition begins tomorrow for many citizens in the UAE. If you are Muslim and are about to begin your fast, or if you’re a non-Muslim resident in the UAE, here are some helpful tips to ensure that everyone has a safe and healthy Ramadan this month.
What happens during Ramadan?
The Islamic month of Ramadan is celebrated as the time of year in which the prophet Mohammed received the first of the revelations that would eventually become the Qur’an. There are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims in the world back in 2010, meaning nearly a quarter of the planet's population may be observing the practice from tomorrow onwards. That said, there may also be a lot of non-Muslims feeling bewildered by it all.
During the holy month of Ramadan, followers of the Islam will fast during daylight hours. This was prescribed in the Qur’an in Chapter 2, Verse 185:
“O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it has been prescribed to those before you in order that you may attain taqwa”
Taqwa relates to guarding one’s self from evil and imbibing the elements of righteousness, reflecting the essence of piety. Fasting during Ramadan is obligatory for all mature-aged Muslims, except in special circumstances (such as pregnant women, the ill and elderly, those whose occupations are strenuous e.g. soldiers at war). However, Ramadan is more than just about fasting.
Many Muslims will explain that Ramadan is also about introspection and quiet reflection, as well as performing acts of giving and charity. As the fasting only applies during daylight hours, many families with share the pre-dawn meal called suhoor, and break their fast after sunset with the iftar. Guests are often invited for iftar, and mosques may also provide shared meals for those taking part in nightly prayer.
Traditions may last for 29 to 30 days, with the Eid al-fitr celebration marking the end of the lunar month. The joyous event was even promoted worldwide through social media app Snapchat in 2015, allowing Muslims around the globe to share their culture and proudly celebrate a healthy Ramadan.
How to have a healthy Ramadan for observing Muslims
Many Muslims are already well experienced in how to successfully observe Ramadan, however it never hurts to have a refresher on ways to stay healthy during the month:
Make the most of suhoor
Your pre-dawn meal becomes all the more important during fasting, as all the energy you’ll need for the day will come from this breakfast. Try to eat more of the following to keep you full and fueled during the day:
- Complex carbohydrates: such as oats, wheat, lentils and grains.
- High-fibre foods: such as cereals, dates, figs, grains, seeds and fruits.
- Protein-rich foods: such as eggs, cheese, yoghurt and meat.
Use your iftar meals responsibly
Breaking your fast in the evening can sometimes lead to the temptation to overindulge, however you should eat your iftar slowly and avoid heavy oils and fats in your meal. Giving yourself time to digest your food properly will ensure you have a healthy Ramadan.
This means ensuring you still drink at least 8 to 12 cups of water a day, while avoiding stimulants like coffee and other high sugar drinks such as Tamarind and Hibiscus.
Try to avoid strenuous physical activities
Your energy levels are likely to be a lot lower during Ramadan because of the fasting, so try to avoid working out at the gym or playing intense sport. If you simply have to participate in a physical activity, try to do so when your energy and hydration levels are as high as possible, such as right after iftar.
Get a medical check up for Ramadan
Fasting for such a long period of time can take a toll on the body, so consider getting a medical check up either before, during and/or after Ramadan to ensure that you’re healthy and not at risk of falling ill. In fact, the Ministry of Health and Prevention has started providing free health check ups in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, and Umm Al Quwain for a health Ramadan. These services will be available until June 8.
How to be mindful of Ramadan observing Muslims
While many will be participating in Ramadan during the lunar month, non-Muslims will continue their month as business as usual. Generally, important and widely recognized cultural traditions can be an opportunity for people to learn more about each other, however some non-Muslims may feel unsure and uncomfortable engaging with Ramadan observing peers. Here’s a few tips for non-Muslims on how to be mindful during this month:
Eating is okay for non-Muslims
For the most part, Ramadan observers won’t be offended that you will continue to eat your lunch during the month. Fasting is a personal test for many, and resisting the urge to join a non-Muslim colleague for lunch is all part of their personal and spiritual development. That said, there is no need to flaunt your freedom to eat in front of those fasting, and be mindful if you’re organising a work lunch or after work mixer.
Be curious, but not disrespectful
If you’re unfamiliar with Islamic practices because you are new, then of course you may have questions for your friends and colleagues. Just remember that Muslims observing Ramadan are not there to defend their beliefs to you, their actions are a personal choice. If you must know more, ask respectfully. There’s also no need to equate Ramadan to your dieting fast; the two are not the same at all.
Consider the effects fasting can have
Some people may become more irritable or have a short fuse as a result of fasting, so please be patient with them. Most Muslims will strive to continue their same level of output and focus as before Ramadan, but bear in mind that hunger can sometimes leave people feeling exhausted. Halitosis can also be common when people don’t eat or drink, and being ousted for bad breath can be embarrassing.
All in all, it’s about being respectful of your friends and colleagues’ choice to observe Ramadan and knowing enough to not cause unnecessary offense. Remember that Muslims may not even drink water during their fast, so please don’t offer them a glass during daylight hours.
Getting health check ups during and after Ramadan
Staying healthy should be a priority any time of the year, but during Ramadan it can be especially important to get a medical check up. Insurance broker UAE Medical Insurance has plans that can be provide you with coverage for medical tests and checks to ensure your health is in tip-top shape. Whether you’re observing this month or not, call the team at UAE Medical Insurance today to make sure you have a healthy Ramadan.