With Ramadan around the corner, we are all experiencing mixed feelings of joy, anxiety, peace, and so on, we are all different. Personally, I feel excited to cleanse my system and be a little holy.
I’d like to begin by talking about the act of fasting itself. The first thing that comes to mind when we think of Ramadan is FASTING, i.e. starvation and thirst until sunset.
But here’s what’s interesting; intermittent fasting (IF) is a relatively new eating pattern that people worldwide are adopting for its newly discovered health benefits. Intermittent fasting is just a fancy way of saying it, but its what we’ve been doing here for centuries.
Quite simply, intermittent fasting varies between periods of fasting and eating. There are many ways people fast intermittently, the most popular and sustainable being The 16/8 Method, which is a 16 hour fast, with an 8 hour eating period only during the day, say from 12 pm till 8 pm, or from 7 pm to 3 am (Ramadan style).
The only problem is that we tend to make it highly counterproductive with our strange eating habits during those few hours of mad consumption.
So why in the world are people starving themselves? Intermittent fasting can be good and here are the reasons why:
- It’s a super-duper weight loss tool! Spending a big chunk of the day food free allows your body to shed belly fat especially, double yay.
- It protects against type 2 diabetes by reducing insulin resistance.
- It protects against various chronic diseases by lowering inflammation in the body.
- It prevents cancer. Can you believe that some cancers can be 100% reversed just by going on a water fast? i.e. drinking only water for days, weeks, up to a month. Yes, we can actually survive and thrive like this. (Please, please do not attempt to cure yourself by cutting out food without a doctor or specialist.)
- It protects against Alzeimer’s, which ultimately means its great for your brain cells.
- You can live longer by practicing IF. Woohoo, bring on 100.
That being said, intermittent fasting is not for everyone. If you are ill, have an eating disorder or are underweight, please refrain.
Anyway, now you have the lowdown on fasting, and now let me tell you what I’ve found beneficial for my health, weight and well-being. Nothing has been approved by scientists, or Ramadan gurus; it is simply my way of dealing with the jolly holy month! Here goes:
1- I consider Iftar a late lunch. This means I eat what I’d usually eat at lunch time: a warming soup, a salad, different types of vegetables and sometimes an animal protein or a carb. When you’re fasting, even this may seem heavy on the belly as a first meal. Iftar doesn’t have to be dense and heavy, and fried and fatty. Chill!
2- I skip the coffee before or after Iftar if I am fasting. I do not want to be up all night, no thanks.
3- Waking myself up at 3am to eat sohour only makes me hungrier the next day. Odd but true. How a3bout you? Just nibble on a banana with nut butter while you’re watching your last tamseleya and call it a night.
4- Dying for some basboussa? Save it for the day you aren’t fasting! Have it with your coffee for breakfast and burn it throughout the day. Can’t help yourself during a 3ezzooma? Take 1 piece of 7alaweyat. Sugar is addictive, the more you have, the more you will crave. Portion control people.
5- Have dessert once or twice a week (if you must!). Ramadan is 30 days long, and 30 days of messing about will cause havoc in your system.
6- Exercise right before Iftar. Or, have a light meal at ifitar time and then hit the gym, track, or class later. If the kobeibba is up to your throat you’re bound to skip on your workout. Don’t let the kobeibba win. You are stronger than the kobeibba.
7- As for how thirsty you will get, I have no answers. Cairo is HOT, and you will be parched no matter how much you drink the day before. Have 2 glasses of water before your meal (I do this before any meal), 2 glasses an hour later, and 2 glasses before your last meal, at least. Try to make them 8 glasses before you sleep. This can help you eat less, but pee loads in the middle of the night, fun!