Tired of being told how to have a healthier Ramadan? Things you know but that just go out the window at the first sight of a samosa or _____________ (insert your fried food of choice) at Iftar?
I hear you. So this year I want to help you shift your mindset and offer you tips that have you reflect and some that have worked for me in my own home. As an aside, I do have a helpful guide you can download to remind you of why the said samosa may not be doing you any good on the daily in Ramadan or otherwise. After all, as INSAAN (the root of the word being NISYAAN meaning forgetful) we definitely benefit from these reminders.
Below are a few strategies that will help you focus on what’s important.
Focus On The Why
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Ok so let’s start with our WHY. Why do we fast in Ramadan? Let’s look at what Allah (swt) says the reason should be.
“O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may develop God-consciousness.” (2:183)
God- consciousness or TAQWA is our WHY for fasting in Ramadan according to our creator. How does one achieve that? By obeying His commands. Now if we look at the prescription for health and vitality in the Quran it is through a whole foods diet. Purity is stressed upon almost everywhere food is mentioned. So much so that we have a detailed description of the criteria we need to fulfil to eat meat.
“Forbidden unto you (for food) are carrion and blood and swine-flesh, and that which hath been dedicated unto any other than Allah, and the strangled, and the dead through beating, and the dead through falling from a height, and that which hath been killed by (the goring of) horns, and the devoured of wild beasts, saving that which ye make lawful (by the death-stroke)
See what I’m getting at? When so much detail is given on a subject, there really isn’t much else to say. If Taqwa is to be achieved we must do or part to be cognizant of all of Allah’s commands, not just the rituals.
The Sunnah of our Prophet is filled with examples as well. The famous hadith on portion control should be kept in mind when we are sitting at Iftar. Instead of overeating, let’s truly make an effort to fill our stomach ⅔ with food and drink and leave the rest empty so we can focus on our ibadah.
Set Up Your Environment For Success
Setting the stage for a healthier Ramadan begins with ensuring you don’t have temptation available within reach to sabotage your efforts. Now although this is a no brainer, there is actually science to back it up. James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits talks about the four laws to behaviour change. There are four steps in making a habit stick and one of them is to make it obvious. In contrast, if we want to break a bad habit, we need to make it not so obvious. So for example, if you want to eat healthy in Ramadan, fill up your pantry with whole foods, make water the easier choice to make by not bringing sodas and other sugary beverages inside your home. Don’t make or get the fried stuff in bulk every single day. Keep it to one day of the week and make a small batch that only gives you 1-2 pieces at Iftar. And before you label me The Samosa Police, please know that I am not about denying you your cultural comfort food, all I’m saying is to portion control and keep temptation at bay.
Case in point:
Messages like these pop up on the neighborhood Whatsapp group already.
How about instead of the samosas, we focus on preparing a few healthier options? Prepping ahead can be such a game changer especially in Ramadan when you want to focus more on your ibadah instead of slaving in the kitchen just before iftar, the best time to make dua.
If the thought of eating “stale food” as some desi elders call it makes you sick to the stomach, consider prepping ingredients that will cut your time in the kitchen in half. I like to chop up onions for curries and omelettes. Simply store the amount you need per dish in separate bags and freeze them. When you’re ready to use one, thaw in warm water for 5-10 minutes while you attend to other things or in the refrigerator the night before.
Go Straight to Dinner
The past few years my husband Ali and I have been forgoing the iftar that we grew up on. We skipped the pakoras and samosa that was the appetizer to the actual meal and went straight to dinner. We have noticed how much lighter and energetic we feel. If you don’t have such a practise in your home, consider this strategy.
Don’t Forget The Veggies
It can be challenging to get our greens in on a regular basis let alone Ramadan where the eating window is so much smaller. Prep smoothie ingredients ahead of time and serve that at Iftar or make mouth watering salads full of color that the whole family will want to eat. Boost the nutritional value by throwing in nuts, seeds and fruit. This year I am planning to make a new salad per iftar to get my boys, 17 and 11, to break their iftar with a date and a serving of salad before digging into the rest of their meal. Quite a feat I know, but I’m up for the challenge!
So there you have it, my top 5 tips on how you can bring mindfulness as you prepare for this Ramadan. I pray that it is of benefit to you and helps you make the blessed month one that is filled with purpose and intention.
Zeeshan Shah is a Holistic Health Coach and a passionate advocate of healthy living. She is the owner of Eat.Drink.Pure LLC. She empowers and educates women to eat cleaner so that they can prevent and reverse disease. She suffered from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and reversed it successfully through food and lifestyle tweaks and wants to help others to take charge of their own health. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube as @eatdrinkpure. Learn more about her programs and personalized coaching on her website www.eatdrinkpure.com. Download the Towards A Healthier Ramadan Guide here.