Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is when the Quran, the holy book followed by Muslims, was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad. Observed by abstaining from food and drink, from sunrise to sunset, this sacred month is important as it allows Muslims to devote themselves to their faith and come closer to Allah.
Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam; the others are prayer, faith, charity, and the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. The month of fasting aims to help learn self-discipline, self-restraint, and generosity. It is also a time to give the body a rest - cleansing it physically and spiritually.
Fasting was considered unhealthy in the recent past, but research has shown that starving the body of food helps it enter metabolic modes that can help burn fat and lose weight.
But the healthy habits learned during Ramadan are often forgotten when we get back into an everyday routine. Often, bingeing may wipe out the gains made during this rigorous month. So how do you continue to take care of your body after the Ramadan and Eid celebrations are over?
Make wise food choicesEid is associated with rich foods, so it is important to choose the right foods after it – salads, fruits, vegetable juices, and smoothies. Supplement this with dry fruits, seeds, and good fats. The body, over a month, adjusts to not eating for long periods, so it's important not to put too much strain on it by eating heavy, greasy foods.
Follow the 80/20The body will have undergone extreme alterations during the holy month, so make sure you ease into eating. The 80/20 rule – eating until you are only 80 percent full – is a good way to do this. Eat slowly, and avoid distractions like the TV during meals to stay aware of your satiation level.
Keep taking water breaksIt's important to pay attention to your hydration levels. Fasting often leads to dehydration as the body loses water and salts through perspiration and urination. Ensure that your intake of water is high as you return to routine life.
Improve your digestive healthThe excessive consumption of sweets, fried food, and fizzy drinks that are a part of Eid celebrations are sure to have taken a toll on your digestive system. Including a probiotic supplement in your daily routine can help replenish the levels of good bacteria flora in your intestines and improve your digestive health.
Make fasting a habitNumerous studies have linked intermittent fasting with numerous health benefits, including weight loss, lower blood pressure, and reduced cholesterol. It has also been known to speed up metabolism, and improve memory, sleep, and concentration. Fasting for a couple of days is a good habit, especially now that your body is used to it.
Get back to exerciseRamadan often goes hand in hand with a decrease in physical exercise for most people. Ease yourself into an exercise regime after the month of fasting is over. Walking, cycling, swimming, light cardio or weights – take your time and get your adrenaline pumping. But be consistent.
Kick that butt, finallyRamadan is the ideal time for smokers who want to quit the habit. Abstaining from cigarettes for a month has shown you that you can do without your nicotine fix every day. After Ramadan, make an effort not to give in to the temptation of smoking. Enlist the support of family and friends, and consider joining an exercise group to get out of the smoking cycle.