With Ramadan less than a month away, it’s the perfect time to discuss essential tips to stay energized and vibrant during the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is now in the summer days, thus leaving many thirsty and tired.
At a workshop I’ve conducted numerously, Ramadan and Healthy Eating, I had an attendee ask if it’s true eating suhoor makes you hungrier during the long hours of fasting. My response was simple, yet fruitful: if it’s from the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) do not doubt that it will only benefit you. Yes, it’s not going to be easy to wake up in the middle of the night to eat, but recognize the reward and immense benefit it will provide you with.
Having suhoor comes with barakah, as stated in the following hadith. “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: Eat Suhoor, for in suhoor there is blessing.” [Sunan Al- Nasa’i].
Having a small meal before sunrise will undoubtedly give you energy to keep going during the day. Skipping out on this meal in fact, will put your body at starvation mode, causing you to overindulge at iftar time. Even if it’s just having a few dates, a fruit, or just water, don’t skip out on this blessed habit.
Besides having suhoor, here are just a few of many wonderful habits and tips that will help you to be productive and healthy this Ramadan, that I cover in my book, Sunnah Superfoods. By implementing these habits, you’ll not only be benefiting your body, health, and mind, but also following the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him), thus gaining immense reward. If you find it difficult to incorporate all of these habits at once, begin before Ramadan and add one at a time. Try going a week without fried food, add a few minutes of exercise in your daily routine, and purchase a miswak. Once you take the first step, you’ll realize how easy it is to implement. It’s important to keep in mind Ramadan should not be wasted sleeping and sitting around waiting for iftar. These tips will help you gain more energy during the day, which would allow you to be more productive and successful.
If you lack energy during fasting and even non-fasting days, I highly advise you to begin eating dates every single day! Dates are not only a food from the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), but they come along with innumerable health benefits for us. Since we are fasting all day long, we may lack adequate vitamins and minerals. Eating dates at suhoor and iftar however, will give you those nutrients. Dates are high in fiber, potassium, magnesium, copper, and several B Vitamins. They provide the body with energy, regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, and reduce the risk of cancer, arthritis and diabetes. Dates also aid in facilitating oxygen to your brain. What more can we ask for in something so sweet and delicious? Make sure to have dates at suhoor and iftar for reward of following a Sunnah, as well as a method of maximizing your energy.
Do you find yourself lacking energy during the day, and only find yourself lazier after having a heavy iftar? Ramadan is a blessed month in which we should yearn to make the most of our worship. It’s not about sleeping all day, and having iftar parties followed by gatherings at night. Shift your focus, renew your intentions, and care for your physical condition. Keep at heart this hadith before attempting to spend your Ramadan days asleep and Ramadan nights socializing while indulging in food and drink. Ibn `Abbas narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) Health and free time for doing good.” [Sahih al Bukhari Book 81, Hadith 1]. By renewing our intentions to care for our health in order to maximize and perfect our worship, we can gain reward too.
In order to stay healthy and energized, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of drinking an adequate amount of water during non-fasting hours. Fasting numerous hours during the summer heat is going to dehydrate you. Make sure that you have plenty of water at suhoor and iftar, and during the night if you are up for prayer. Aside just drinking water though, include hydrating foods into your meals like cucumbers, watermelon, lettuce, pineapple, greens, citrus fruits, and berries. Parallel to that; try to limit foods that cause you to dehydrate like deep fried food, overly salty foods, soda, and too many deep-fried sweets. Yes, you are fasting all day long, but it doesn’t mean you should overindulge on deep fried foods or junk at iftar. Eating in an unhealthy matter will only lead you to lack energy. If you have a habit of drinking several cups of coffee a day, it may be best to try and limit your intake from now. Don’t wait until the first day of Ramadan. Try to minimize them from now so that your body does not go into shock mode the first day of fasting. It’s not going to be easy if you just leap into fasting and eliminate your coffee completely. You’re going to have possible withdrawal effects like headaches, laziness, fatigue, etc. Having some coffee at suhoor or iftar is fine, if you don’t overconsume it as it dehydrates the body.
Although we are fasting long hours, it does not mean it’s okay to just indulge in junk and more junk. I’d advise that you try to limit, if not completely eliminate, any fried food from your Ramadan menu. Yes, I know, Ramadan comes with tradition of iftar parties, full of piles of samosas, fatoush salad, and deep-fried sweets. For the sake of your health, and intention of increasing your acts of worship, make some changes this year. Fried food will make you feel sluggish and heavy after the meal, that’s aside all the negative influence it has on your health. While I highly recommend you avoid fried food and genetically modified oils such as soybean, vegetable, or canola, I would advise that you increase your intake of healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, seeds, nuts, and avocadoes. These healthy fats do not only come with immense vitamins and minerals, which we especially can use in Ramadan, but also grant fullness and satiety.
Another wonderful habit I would suggest during and outside of Ramadan alike is to use a miswak. Miswak is a teeth cleaning twig made from the Arak tree, known as Salvadora persica. It’s not only a Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), but today it is proven to have incredible health benefits. Abu Hurairah narrated that Allah’s Messenger said: “If it were not that it would be difficult on my nation, then I would have ordered them to use the Siwak for each prayer.” [Jami’at -Tirmidhi Book 1: Hadith 22] That’s right; something mentioned in the Sunnah 1400+ years ago is today scientifically proven to have wonderful benefits for us. Use it during Ramadan especially, when your breath many not smell its best from lack of food and drink. Make your spouse and those around you happy and brush with a miswak during the day while fasting. Miswak has been proven to carry antibacterial benefits, has anti-inflammatory benefits, relieves smelly breath, whitens the teeth, and minimizes plaque plus gingivitis.
Don’t let Ramadan pass without trying at least one of these wonderful habits. See how your body feels without fried food, more water, and some exercise as well. I pray that these suggestions can be implemented into your goals this Ramadan. Renew your intentions, and give it your best. May Allah (swt) accept from us all. If you are seeking any further information about some of these habits and recommendations, find a copy of my book, Sunnah Superfoods, on Amazon or in some online bookstores. And Allah (swt) knows best.
Noor H. Salem is an author, speaker, and Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, from Michigan. Noor works with clients in better understanding their bodies and healing with natural foods through her wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition. She presents various workshops, school lectures, group coaching classes, and community lectures on the topic of holistic health. Noor recently published her book, SUNNAH SUPERFOODS, a culmination of life-changing recipes and remedies, with a foreword by Dr. Waleed Basyouni. Her book consists of prophetic hadith, modern research, and delicious recipes, and is in the process of being translated into other languages.