With our iman reinvigorated, many of us begin Ramadan with ambitious goals. It is not a bad idea to have big goals, but accomplishing numerous tasks whilst fasting for a long day requires some pre-planning. As the month progresses we tend to lose the vigor with which we started. This could be due to a dip in our physical strength or decrease in our spiritual motivation. If you want to survive a 16-hour fast with the same enthusiasm from day 1 to 30, this article is for you.
Fasting does not necessarily make you lethargic or tired, provided you eat the right type of foods. Preparing wholesome nutritious foods for suhoor and iftar is one of the easiest tricks to staying energetic throughout the day.
• Choose Carbs
Include whole grain cereals, brown bread, oatmeal, with fresh fruits and vegetables (with skin wherever possible). These foods release sugars at a slow and steady rate. Therefore, you get a constant flow of glucose (energy) throughout the day. This will prevent lethargy.
• Avoid Caffeine, junk foods and refined foods
It is advisable to avoid caffeinated beverages during suhoor because these drinks dehydrate your body, making you feel thirsty. Replace your cup of coffee or tea with a glass of milk and honey. This will give you surplus amount of carbohydrates without any side effects.
Junk food and carbonated beverages cause your energy and mood to spike with a sudden burst of sugar into your blood stream. This super energetic feeling will only last for a very short period of time. You may feel full but you will not have consumed the necessary nutrients your body requires. Processed foods cause digestion problems and are devoid of essential nutrients.
• Eat in moderation
Avoid binging excessively for iftar by cooking delicious foods in order to ‘make up’ for not eating throughout the day. This snatches away the huge blessings which you could have otherwise obtained had you spent that time in reciting Qur’an, praying, or doing dhikr. Extravagant meals are unnecessarily when your body can suffice with a decent, normal meal!
• Be Balanced
Some people in their zeal to do good may overwork their body. You should definitely push and challenge yourself to do extra prayers but if you feel like fainting from exhaustion or if you end up missing Fajr, Zhuhr, and Asr the next day due to lethargy, then sleep is better.
The Prophet told us our body has a right over us, so strike a balance by exerting yourself in the night prayer to seek the reward, mercy, and pleasure of Allah; however, do not burden your body excessively [Sahih Bukhari].
Eating right should obviously be combined with seeking help from Allah to keep you going all day long. This will prevent a dip in your physical and spiritual/emotional levels. When you feel like giving up due to extreme lethargy, remember that no task is daunting and arduous when you have Allah’s help!
Indulge in dhikr to keep your iman high. There are many types of remembrance; however, mentally reciting a dua or a verse without involving your heart is just lip service. Read and allow your heart to be moved by what you recite.
• Remembrance of the Heart
Your heart should be in tune with what you utter from your lips. A day long fast will be rewarded multifold if you remember Allah The Most High constantly. Abu Hurairah reported that Allah’s Messenger said: “Allah says: ‘I am just as My slave thinks I am, and I am with him if He remembers Me. If he remembers Me in himself, I too, remember him in Myself; and if he remembers Me in a group of people, I remember him in a group that is better than they; and if he comes one span nearer to Me, I go one cubit nearer to him; and if he comes one cubit nearer to Me, I go a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running” [Sahih Bukhari].
Dhikr carries a lot of weight on your scale of good deeds, so remember Allah much. This Ramadan, allow your eyes and heart to cry for the sins it committed. Use this month to cleanse your heart. Schedule a time for regular remembrance.
• Physical Good Deeds
Perform good deeds, however small or big they may be. Remove a stone from a path or open a door for someone. Make a habit of sadaqah (voluntary charity) and give whatever skills/talent you have to support the needy. Invite your neighbor for iftar or help your mother make food – every action you do this month is extraordinary.
As a fasting person, your chances of having prayers answered is much more likely; therefore, seize this opportunity to stay positive by repenting and supplicating. It is said: “Three supplications are answered without doubt. The supplication of the oppressed, the supplication of the traveller, and the supplication of the parent for his son” [At-Tirmithi and Abu Dawud].
The feeling of being close to your Lord, The Most High, is one of the most rewarding blessings one can attain. Eating the right types of foods will nourish your body whilst spiritual acts of worship will nourish your mind and soul. I hope the above tips will help you have a super productive Ramadan without making you feel spiritually, physically or emotionally drained inshaAllah!
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