Sultana and Sameeha met at the supermarket a few days prior to Ramadan.
Sultana: As-Salam-u-Alaikum. Nice to see you here. How are you doing? You’re shopping cart is full! Expecting some guests?
Sameeha: Wa alaikum as-salam, no no! This is my Ramadan shopping – Suhur, Iftar, So much preparation, so many recipes. Your cart seems quite empty. Aren’t you guys fasting?
Well, this is something we sometimes experience too. So many different recipes floating, requests for certain savories and desserts from our families and special Ramadan fried foods. Often, we just go with the flow and tend to go overboard with the food, causing the poor digestion and effectively an unhealthy Ramadan.
We find numerous mentions about eating right and not over eating by our Holy Prophet (SAW)
The Prophet (SAW) said: “The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach; for the son of Adam a few mouthfuls are sufficient to keep his back straight. If you must fill it, then one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for air.” (Tirmidhi)
“…..and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifoon (those who waste by extravagance)” [al-Araaf :31]
While there is no harm in having different dishes, trying out new recipes and even enjoying desserts, breaking the fast the right way and taking care of certain practices will surely be helpful to enjoy a healthy Ramadan.
- Break the fast with dates
Anas Ibn Maalik said: “The Prophet (SAW) used to break his fast with fresh dates before he prayed. If he did not find fresh dates then he would use dried dates. If he did not find that also he drank a few sips of water” [Ahmad and Abu Dawood].
Dates contain a high amount of natural sugars. Sugars travel most quickly to the liver where they are converted into energy more quickly than any other nutrient. Thus, they give you that instant energy boost when you break your fast.
- Say your prayers immediately after having your dates and water
Saying your prayers immediately after breaking the fast has a twofold benefit – Physical and spiritual. Once you consume the dates, they prepare the stomach to receive food after being inactive throughout the day by activating the release of digestive secretions and juices. Saying our “Magrib” prayers gives our body enough time to secrete these juices and our stomach is ready for the iftar meal. Spiritually, when we consume our entire iftar before our prayers, our body might feel very heavy and we tend to get lethargic so concentrating on our prayers might become difficult. Also spending time on iftar might also cause us to miss the time for our prayers.
When we start eating at iftar, consuming food in the wrong manner can take a toll on our digestive system and cause more harm than good. Here are certain tips and precaution that we must take to make sure we enjoy our Ramadan to the fullest in prayer without worrying about our health.
- Drinking water at the time of iftar
The first glass of water you have after you break your fast should be luke-warm. This helps flushing out the toxins, improves digestion and helps fight constipation. Avoid drinking too much water immediately after iftar since it can contribute to fatigue and stomach pain. Avoid drinking cold water as well.
- Avoid mixing food and fruits
Fruits should be had before the food and not after or together. Fruit contains simple sugars that require no digestion and they do not stay for a long time in the stomach. Other foods rich in fat, protein and starch stays in the stomach for longer time because they require more digestion. So, if you eat fruit after a meal, the fruit sugar will stay for too long in the stomach and ferment and hinder digestion.
- Avoid mixing dairy with citrus foods
The acid of citrus foods curdles the milk if they are had together and thus impacting the digestive system
- Desserts and sugar in moderation
Too much of sugar is not recommended since it will make you feel hungry quicker.
- Do not sleep immediately after iftar
Sleeping immediately after iftar makes you lethargic as well as hinders proper digestion of food. This in turn will prevent you from spending time in prayer.
Our Holy Prophet(SAW) said: “The supplications of three groups of people are not rejected; the du’aa of the fasting person when he is breaking his fast, the du’aa of the just Imam and the du’aa of the oppressed.” [Tirmidhee, Ibn Majah and Ibn Hibbaan]. So, make use of the time while breaking your fast to ask Allah for all those things that would make your life easy in this world and the next. Inshallah, your prayers will be answered and you will have a wonderful and healthy Ramadan.