Ramadan, our Muslim holy month of fasting (daily from dawn until sunset), is fast approaching this year. According to ISNA, the lunar month is set begin (insh’Allah) on sundown of July 19, 2012; thus, the first day of fasting will begin at dawn of Friday, July 20, 2012. Despite what some perceive as the great hardship of giving up a month’s daylight hours without food or drink (or cigarettes, swearing, and other stuff), most Ramadan-observers share a feeling of deep excitement and joy. Sisters and brothers around the world look forward to this special month of separation from worldly comforts, contemplation on the realities around us, and an increased sense of closeness with humanity and our local communities — including those within our communities that are less fortunate, and for whom days without food is an experience far from confined to one month a year.
For many, including myself, fasting for Ramadan often presents challenges in the first few days (the body, mind, and soul getting used to a routine-shift). Yet with each day the physical challenges become easier, and the spiritual benefits increase, culminating with profound feelings of physical detoxification and spiritual cleansing.
However, I think that many people who fast Ramadan make the month harder on themselves in their habits of consumption. In response to discussions with friends over the course of several years, I am writing this short piece that briefly discusses ideas about the physical, dietary, and nutritional DO’s and DON’Ts to maximize the benefits of Ramadan’s daily structure. I am not a nutritionist, but through my own experiences, those of friends, and personal observations of red-flag mistakes, this is one person’s humble attempt to begin the conversation on how to improve the physical aspects of fasting from dawn to sunset. Such strategies are especially critical in these upcoming years where Ramadan coincides with much longer days of the summer months (in New Hampshire, around 17+ daily hours of fasting). My hope is to decrease undue burdens of the physical, such that the spiritual, communal, and charitable blessings of Ramadan can flourish for the benefit of us all.
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