by Anka Oprisor
Ramadan can be a daunting month health wise. Every year we start out thinking that this year is the year of doing things right. This year we won’t overeat or that we’ll exercise. It is the Muslim world’s version of New Year’s resolution fails – every year we tend to fall back into our old patterns.
A whole month of fasting is aggressive on the body, but a whole month of overeating and not exercising will do more harm. We thought now would be a good time to remind everyone that even with days away, some planning might be a good idea. Failing to plan is planning to fail, and we are sure that is where the trouble starts. Instead of set-in-stone plans, we make grand sweeping statements that are so flexible and abstract we never follow through.
The general advice is don’t over eat, stay hydrated and everything in moderation. However, a quick reminder never hurt anyone. We got some great specialist advice from Anca Oprisor: master trainer, nutritionist and life coach.
- Suhour, Suhour, Suhour! Skipping it might be tempting when you are asleep in bed, but that is a bad decision waiting to bite you later in the day. Go for filling options like eggs, yogurt, veggies and healthy fats are all great.
- Slow and steady After a day of food deprivation, remember you should start slow as the system is not ready to digest – have few dates and water. Doing this also helps you not overeat.
- Start with Soup Make it a permanent staple at your table. It provides your body with fluids and nutrients which are easy to absorb. Not to mention it is filling and hot so you are forced to slow down. It is also a great way to look like you ate when you are at a gathering and don’t want to be badgered by other guests.
- Stay hydrated! Drink a sip of water, yes plain old H2O, every 10 min. Aim for eight to ten glasses a day.
- Pure liquids only Cut down on fizzy or caffeinated drinks. Caffeine is a diuretic, and while we all love that buzz, it will make you more dehydrated.
- A nod to nature with all the amazing things you can choose from, it is easy to forget good old-faithful fruits and veggies.
- Fried is not your friend Always pick the steamed, baked or grilled options. Deep frying is not good for you. You really have more healthy options than unhealthy ones.
- If it comes in a bag… Try to cut down on sugary or processed foods. They are low in nutrients and high in calories. Make those calories worth it!
- Move it! You can still work out during Ramadan. Just do it before breaking the fast. Focus on short intense sessions that last 30 to 45 minutes and try to avoid cardio.
- Keep Calm and Carry On Fasting is tough on your body and psyche. Go slow and be flexible.
Now that you’ve read it, make concrete plans. Some of the advice is easier to follow. It is also harder when you are invited to control what’s on the table, but you can always control how much of it goes onto your plate and into your body.
Take some time right now to plan ahead. Write up possible healthy menus. If you are eating out, call ahead and make sure you have healthy choices. Use affirmations every day at Iftar time. “I will not eat kunafa until I am about to explode”. Not that we know what that’s like. Keep your favorite water bottle at the table. Whatever it is that you need to do, do it. Who knows?! You might even end up losing some weight.
Follow Anka Oprisor on Instagram @anka_oprisor for more great advice on food and life.