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Fasting for Ramadan: in our clients’ own words

10th July 2015

Health TrainersWith a week to go until the end of Ramadan, some of the Health Trainer clients who have been fasting have been telling us how they’re getting on.

This year, the fasting day is around 19 hours long. There is a meal each morning just before dawn (Suhoor – currently around 02.30am) and a meal to break the fast at dusk (Iftar – currently around 09.30pm), but between these times, while the sun is up, most Muslims don’t eat or drink at all.

For people who are fasting, the hot weather has meant a bigger risk of becoming dehydrated, and the short nights mean that many people aren’t getting a lot of sleep. It’s difficult, but then the holy month is supposed to be about self-discipline and self-control. Many of our clients are pleased just to get through the day.

We record statements from the people we work with after every appointment, using our Impact Assessment App, so we’ve put together a few of the comments people have made about their fast. You can see that the themes of discipline and focus are very prevalent.

Sheryar has become more active since seeing a Health Trainer, but exercise has taken a back seat over the last few weeks:

Not done much [exercise] due to Ramadan but trying to remain disciplined.

Adil said:

My aim was to remain focused during Ramadan. I think I’ve done well so far.

For many Muslims, the first meal after the day’s fast often includes fried foods like samosas or kebabs. So Health Trainers advise their clients to try and keep to the healthier options, offering alternatives and ways of cooking “treat” foods in a healthier way.

Mohsinn said:

Eating healthy, feeling pleased I’ve stayed away from fried food this Ramadan.

Gul said:

Ramadan helps with discipline. I’m pleased so far I have kept on track.

Oumy has been able to keep up the good work she started before Ramadan. Her daughter interpreted for her to explain the changes she’d made since the last appointment, saying:

She doesn’t use sugar now, she uses sweeteners in her coffee. I have managed to persuade her to have fruit daily. At the moment she is fasting but when she breaks her fast to eat she does have some fruit. She has also cut down on fizzy drinks. That’s so good she has lost four inches from her waist.

Our Health Trainers often hear people saying they intend to use Ramadan as an opportunity to challenge unhealthy habits. It’s tough on the body, but it’s also a very spiritual, mindful time of the year, so for someone who wants to make lifestyle changes, being forced to be think carefully about what’s going into their body can be a positive thing.

Fowsia said:

At the moment I am participating in Ramadan. What I would like to do when I come back for my next appointment is to keep a food diary, so you can tell me in more detail what changes I should make to try to lose weight. But I think I will lose some weight during Ramadan.

Health Trainer Hana says, “People often think that they’ll lose weight during Ramadan, but this isn’t necessarily the case. If you break your fast with a big, oily, fatty meal every day, your body will find it difficult. If you do want to use the time to try and lose weight, make sure you eat a normal sized, balanced meal in the evening. And don’t forget your five a day!”

For more tips from our Health Trainers, see our previous blog posts, Stay healthy during Ramadan from last year, and Five tips for a healthy Ramadan from 2013.

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  1. Eleanor McGee

    Well done all for pulling out how the real meaing of Ramadan can help with positive behaviour changes. I have aplea for muslim families- encourage your chilldren to take part in other aspects of Ramadan- reflection, personal change, self-denial and concern for others, and not in fasting.My nutritional knowledge tells me that fasting affects concentration and mood. Children are at school and may have exams during this Ramadan, which is longer and hotter than we have seen for years. They need fluids and food to keeep well through the day. If they really want to fast, how about letting them join in on a weekend day?

  2. Jamie Forbes

    While my personal beliefs mean I have trouble empathizing with the reasons why people – including some of my colleagues – are engaging in such a gruelling and potentially dangerous regime I can only express respect for their discipline and tenacity. To hold self-control enough to endure sleep deprivation, hunger and dehydration and still be able to keep control enough not to gorge on treats when available is enviable and thoroughly commendable.

  3. Mandy Shanahan

    I am humbled by the self discipline of all those who fast during Ramadan particularly at the hight of the summer. The strength must come from the wider aspects of Ramadan described in response above with a focus on reflection and self denial.
    Lent provides a similar opportunity for Christians but with fasting limited to only two days at the beginning and end of Lent.

  4. Susan Bernard

    I fast once a month as part of my faith as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days commonly know as Mormons. .We fast in the first weekend of every mon th for 24hrs and donate the money that would have been spent on two consecutive meals for helping poor and needy church members or world wide help to other organisations.
    Fasting is good both mentally , spiritually and for our digestive systems.Helps us to appreciate what we have .To me it’s a good sacrifice for good health for people who can do it.