When I first decided to try fasting it was in my 20s, at that time I felt the need to challenge my faith. Out of my religious beliefs I got myself into a 30 days fasting program once a year. So what were the reasons that kept me fasting every single year for over 20 years? Beyond the fact that I was feeling myself empowered and going through a spiritual practice. And the beauty of it was also the collective aspect of fasting. The fact that millions of people are sharing with you the same activity every single day over 30 days is quite a thing! Realizing this definitely add up to the empowerment feeling that I experienced. Additionally, I was really feeling the whole process was doing some good to my body. However, fasting is experienced differently from people to others when it comes to breaking it.
Let’s come back to the main definition; start to fast at dawn and break it at sunset.
Although the benefits of fasting are well known, fact is when one starts fasting it does put your body under not an easy pressure to handle! The first days your body is shaken up by a sudden change of diet, missing of everything and being obliged to deal with that until sunset. When breaking the fast our body is also put under the pressure of having to handle so much food and liquid intake when in essence it is not designed to do so! You are projected into a 360 degrees shift where many of us end up spending their night eating and fasting during the day while sleeping.
This creates a complete lifestyle disorder that if not well managed can end up is health problems such as weight gain, headaches, lack of energy and so on.
So in order to experience fasting in a positive way and get all the benefits out of it, some easy habits should be adopted.
- Introduction meal
When it is time for breaking your fast, giving yourself some time to first drink plenty of water and resting for 15mn before starting eating is essential. It will prepare your stomach that has been the whole day at rest for the digestive function. During these 15 mn, you can even have a lentil soup as well as some dates that will activate your metabolism. After 15mn, start your meal but do be careful to eat mindfully which means kind of slowly (I know it is hard!) and enjoy the eating process.
You will feel full very quickly so do listen to your body and respect the fact that your stomach needs a pause.
- Second round
The second round should not happen after 11PM. You must give yourself the time to digest before going to sleep. After 1.5 to 2 hours of resting, you are hungry again! Normal your body did not yet assimilate all the nutrients it usually takes out of a regular diet day.
So this is the time for you to have a second round, it can be a complete meal or some cheese and bread, or a rich in veggies salad or some boosting meal.
- Suhoor Time
So at “Suhoor” time you must have had at least 4 hours behind you for digestion so that your body feels ready for a last round. This last round is all about light but rich food for your metabolism to be able to benefit out of it during the day. Eat rich in sugar and fiber fruits such as bananas, mangos, apples; all sort of nuts, milk and its derivatives, dates, and some cheese with bread if you feel like.
The higher purpose of fasting is to honor life and grow as being of consciousness. So staying awake in the morning is important. Going through your day calmly, doing your best the level of energy you have allows you to do so, nurture the inner space that opens up and fill it with the stillness that fasting brings into your life.
Experience with grace and presence this everyday awaken meditation and honor it with mindfulness when breaking your fast.
Wishing you all Ramadan Kareem!