Advice for a Happy and Healthy Ramadan
15th May, 2018
When you’re on your feet all day working long shifts, the natural urge for many people is to snack and pick all day to keep you going. Now imagine being told, sorry, but not only are you not allowed to snack, but you’re also not going to be having meals either. This is the reality of millions of Muslims who go through a month of fasting every year for Ramadan.
Ramadan starts on Tuesday 15th May and marks one of the five pillars of Islam: faith, prayer, charity, fasting and pilgrimage to Mecca. Therefore, it’s critical to those of the Muslim faith.
So how can you have a successful and healthy Ramadan when you work under the pressures of the healthcare sector? It may not be easy, but it can be done!
When you know you’re going to be eating less frequently than usual, there’s temptation to have lots of treats at the times you can eat. Bring on the pizza, parathas, fried samosas, ice cream, pastries…let us stop you there before you get too carried away! Yes, you may not be eating as much, but balance and healthy eating are crucial. It’s also important that you don’t stray too far from your usual diet – you can still gain weight while fasting, you know!
Carbohydrates are an important food group at this time, as are small amounts of fat. Try not to eat too many oily, fried or sugary foods; instead, eat healthier sources of carbs such as wholegrains, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and lower fat dairy products. You’re looking for slow-releasing energy foods, not those that will give you short bursts.
Foods that are high in fibre will also make you feel fuller, so these are a great option to include in your diet. Vegetables and pulses are an easy thing to add to the likes of a curries, so you don’t even have to go out of your way too much!
Foods to avoid
- Deep-fried foods – such as pakoras, samosas and fried dumplings
- High-sugar and high-fat foods – including sweets such as gulab jamun, rasgulla and balushahi
- High-fat cooked foods – such as parathas, oily curries and greasy pastries
- Baked samosas and boiled dumplings
- Chapattis made without oil
- Baked or grilled meat and chicken
- Homemade pastry using just a single layer
- Milk-based sweets and puddings, such as rasmalai and barfee
During Ramadan, you have two meals: ‘suhoor’ or ‘sehri’ before dawn and ‘iftar’ after sunset. Where possible, make your pre-dawn meal wholesome and substantial to get you through the day – oats, toast and cereals are good choices, and so is fruit juice for added vitamins. Choose foods that will supply you with high levels of protein too, as these will help you feel fuller for longer.
Traditionally, the fast is broken in the evenings with dates as they give a nice shot of energy when you’re feeling drained. Water will rehydrate you and help to ensure that you don’t overstuff yourself.
Food talk aside, it’s also essential that you drink enough water. Drinking plenty in non-fasting hours will make you more alert and provide you with higher levels of energy for the day ahead – something you can never have enough of when you work in healthcare.
Research has shown that when we have a good night’s sleep, we’re less likely to snack in the day. It makes sense when you think about it because we usually reach for snacks more when we’re tired or restless, not typically hungry. So, where you can, rest and sleep as much as possible as this should hopefully help with your cravings.
For some people, they don’t have as much energy to conquer what they typically would in a day. It’s important you don’t overdo it and make yourself ill. Of course, this can be challenging at work – just make sure that you’re taking your breaks and resting whenever possible.
Take advantage of your personal time to rest as well. You can still take part in activities, but gentle ones are best as they don’t put as much strain on your body. If exercise is usually a part of your free time, walking, gentle jogs and light aerobic exercise are ideal.
It’s always a good idea to make your management aware that you’re taking part in Ramadan and will be fasting over the course of the month. This way, if there are any changes in your work performance, they’ll be able to understand and support you, as will the other members of your team.
If you think there’s a shift that will suit you better during the month of Ramadan, why not ask if you can swap? If you feel you’d be better suited to a day shift (so you’re busy while fasting) or a night shift (so you can eat while working), find out if you can change your working pattern for the month.
Regular night shifter? Do you have colleagues who are also celebrating Ramadan? Why not see if you can eat together to make it more of a special occasion? You could each prepare different parts of the meal and bring it in to share!
Finally, have you considered booking some holiday? Taking even a few days off over Ramadan gives you time to focus on what the holiday is about and not overdo things. Why not see if it’s possible to take this time off during the middle of the 30 days to break it up?
Ramadan Mubarak from Your World to all those celebrating – all the best with your fast!
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