Fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan can be good for one’s health and personal development. Ramadan fasting is not just about disciplining the body to restrain from eating food and drinking water from predawn until sunset.
The eyes, the ears, the tongue, and even the private parts are equally obligated to be restrained if a Muslim wants to gain the total rewards of fasting. Ramadan is also about restraining anger, doing good deeds, exercising personal discipline, and preparing oneself to serve as a good Muslim and a good person during and after Ramadan.
This is why the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him, Pbuh) has been attributed, by Hazrat Abu Hurairah in hadith, to say: “He who does not desist from obscene language and acting obscenely (during the period of fasting), Allah has no need that he didn’t eat or drink.” (Bukhari, Muslim). In another hadith by Hazrat Abu Harairah, the Prophet (Pbuh) said: “Fasting is not only from food and drink, fasting is to refrain from obscene (acts). If someone verbally abuses you or acts ignorantly toward you, say (to them) ‘I am fasting; I am fasting.” (Ibn Khuzaoinah). Restraint from food, water, and undesirable behavior makes a person more mentally disciplined and less prone to unhealthy behavior. In an investigation in Jordan (1), a significant reduction of parasuicidal cases was noted during the month of Ramadan. In the United Kingdom, the Ramadan model has been used by various health departments and organizations to reduce cigarette smoking among the masses, especially among Africans and Asians (2).
Ramadan fasting has spiritual, physical, psychological, and social benefits; however, manmade problems may occur, if fasting is not properly practiced. First of all, there is no need to consume excess food at iftar (the food eaten immediately after sunset to break fast), dinner or sahur ( the light meal generally eaten about half an hour to one hour before dawn). The body has regulatory mechanisms that activate during fasting. There is efficient utilization of body fat. [El Ati et al. (3)]. Basal metabolism slows down during Ramadan fasting. [Husain et al. (4)]. A diet that is less than a normal amount of food intake but balanced is sufficient enough to keep a person healthy and active during the month of Ramadan.
Health problems can emerge as a result of excess food intake, foods that make the diet unbalanced, and insufficient sleep (5, 6). Ultimately also, such a lifestyle contradicts the essential requirements and spirit of Ramadan.
DIET DURING RAMADAN
According to Sunna (the practices of Prophet Muhammad, Pbuh) and research findings referred in this report, a dietary plan is given:
1. Bread/Cereal/Rice, Pasta, Biscuits and Cracker Group: 6-11 servings/day; 2. Meat/Beans/ Nut Group: 2-3 servings/day. 3. Milk and Milk Product Group: 2-3 servings/day. 4. Vegetable Group: 3-5 servings/day; 5. Fruit Group: 2-4 servings/day. 6. Added sugar (table sugar, sucrose): sparingly. 7. Added fat, polyunsaturated oil 4-7 table spoons.
- Dates, three
- Juice, 1 serving (4 oz.)
- Vegetable soup with some pasta or graham crackers, 1 cup