We’re about halfway through the holy month of Ramadan which means it’s a time of reflection, personal growth, and celebration for billions around the world. While many do their best to stay focused during fasting hours, some days are inevitably harder than others, especially once fatigue and hunger settle in.
And with Ramadan falling during the summer solstice this year (i.e. more daylight hours and up to 21 hours of fasting for some in places like Greenland), another challenging element is added to the equation. So how exactly do you conjure up the strength to ignore those hunger pains and stop yourself from impatiently waiting for the sun to set? Check out these five tips on how to stay focused and fast safely:
- Plan your meals
What you eat has an incredible impact on your energy levels and your focus as you fast. This is why it’s so important to plan your Suhoor and Iftar meals in advance. Try to consume nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins while balancing those with complex carbohydrates, such as oats, lentils, or basmati rice. The complex carbs help release energy slowly during long hours of fasting while nutrient-rich foods make you feel fuller, for longer periods of time.
- Keep yourself hydrated
A common mistake many make is not consuming enough water during non-fasting hours. Drinking water helps you stay hydrated and fueled, especially during hot summer days. So, prepare for your day of fasting by drinking water between Iftar and Suhoor. A good rule of thumb is to drink one to two glasses of water every hour. If you can drink two liters of water within that timeframe, you should be in good shape. Avoid drinking sugary or caffeinated beverages, like soda or coffee, as these will dehydrate you.
- Indulge but don’t overindulge at Iftar
As soon as dusk arrives, your first instinct is to fill your plate with the delicious food you’ve anxiously awaited all day. While binge eating is frowned upon in general, it’s also incredibly harmful to your body. Do your best to enact some self-control when it comes to eating at Iftar. Instead, ease yourself into breaking fast by eating a few dates, which are high in potassium, fiber, and Vitamins A, B, and K. Then, try to eat smaller portions, chew slowly, and savor every bite. Taking your time to eat is not only rewarding but also helps you avoid an unnecessary food coma and indigestion.
- Establish a consistent sleeping pattern
Ramadan does tend to disrupt sleep cycles, as many stay up late to celebrate with friends and family, and get up early to eat for Suhoor on very little sleep. As the month progresses, this inconsistent sleep schedule can make you feel groggy, overwhelmed, or even moody. Even when you do get a full night’s sleep, hearing your alarm blaring to get out of bed at 4am isn’t exactly easy. To make those mornings less painful, try to set a wake-up time that’s a multiple of 90 minutes, which is the length of the average sleep cycle. Increasing your exposure to sunlight early in the day can also help recalibrate your body clock and help strengthen your circadian rhythm.
- Reflect and give back
It’s very easy to get caught up in the celebrations and festivities that go hand-in-hand with the holy month. At the end of the day, Ramadan is meant to be a time to reset, reconnect with others, forgive, and cleanse your mind and soul. Take this a step further and think outside yourself by finding a local charity or organization that does good for others. Whether you’re volunteering your time or donating money to a good cause, helping others is a great way to distract and better yourself as you fast.