Sehri Series: 17 Hour Fasts

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Unless you’re too put off by the sandwich of government and morning show hypocrisy, I hope you’ve all been having a good month so far. The adjustment process in Canada has been interesting (17 hour fasts, yes they’re fun) because of which I haven’t been able to write as often as I would like. But I have embarked on a mini soul searching spree since Ramadan began and thought that I’d share my experiences with those of you who can’t sleep after sehri.

 

For this first post, I thought I’d start with something a tad materialistic. I realize that the purpose of fasting during Ramadan is not vanity. But when you don’t eat for prolonged periods of time, it does impact your body and I thought we could have a mature conversation that addresses why your physical health is important.

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Diet

Now, I don’t want to be a hypocrite hence I will admit that given how difficult it is to find a good batch of pakoras in the Greater Toronto Area (read: non-soggy batch of pakoras) hence when I do get my hands on them, I will be eating them. And it will be glorious.

But even I cannot ignore that when you’re not eating or drinking anything for most of the day then the first thing you put into your mouth probably shouldn’t be deep-fried and smothered in salt.

I did some research and intermittent fasting can actually be good for you. It can allow your body to detoxify itself and regulate your weight. However, if your version of a fast is accompanied by fluorescent sugar drinks and all things crispy, then it maybe difficult for your body to do any of this. Instead, focus on whole foods that fill you up release energy slowly so that you can go about the 17 hours without collapsing.

Here is what I’ve been eating.

 

Suhur

I alternate between some kind of homemade flat bread with salan or a bowl of oatmeal, a chia seed porridge or yoghurt with fruit. Sometimes I might even do a soy based protein shake. My focus is to have something that either relies on grains or is high in protein so that it lasts throughout the day.

Also I realize that it is very fashionable to forsake homemade chapatti for a slice of whole-wheat bread. But unless you make the bread at home with whole ingredients, which I do when I can, it can be difficult to account for the nutritional value.

Iftari

I have to prepare iftari pretty quickly, hence I go for things that are really simple to make. Fruit chaat is a great option because it is pretty healthy and also pretty simple. Although, try not to add any sugar into it. Dates are also vital for me because I feel that just one or two give me a real boost. Sometimes I snack on the unhealthy stuff (I am not perfect) but I try to keep it rare.

Dinner

Okay. Since maghrib is between eight fifty and nine PM where I live, hence I don’t always have dinner. When I do, I try to go for lean proteins mainly seafood accompanied by vegetables and grains. When I don’t plan on eating dinner, then I keep iftar protein rich and just call it a day.

 

Hydrate

The average adult is supposed to drink approximately two litres of water in a day. This is roughly equal to eight glasses. During Ramadan, this is also the easiest thing to ignore. When you break your fast, or during suhur, it is easy to focus on the food as opposed to anything else. We make it even worse at times by pilling the table high with carbonated, refined sugar heavy, neon colored drinks. Which in retrospect are probably high on the list of things not to break your fast with.

To keep things simple, I try to have two glasses of water first thing in the morning and two more right after I break fast, I also try to end the day with two glasses of water.

Yes, I realise that this equals six and not eight glasses of water, but I am not a whale. I do what I can in the six hours I have to eat.

 

Stay Active

This part has been the bane of my life for these past few days. But try your hardest to squeeze in a few hours of exercise into your routine. Firstly, because intermittent fasting can help you control your weight so you might as well help the process by putting in a little extra effort. But also, I feel that when I do go to the gym or do 30 minutes of yoga I actually feel better.

I exercise during the day, that is while I’m fasting. But it is perfectly understandable if you’re not quite that committed just yet. Try fifteen minutes of weight training right before you go to bed to get you started, and work you way up from there.  

 

Okay so there you have it. My 17 hour fasting routine. Honestly, it sounds worse than it actually is. I’d say you’re likely to feel tired but nothing else. Have a great rest of the week.

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