An Exercise In Patience | A Guide To Fasting.
Credits to: Dribble
Following the chronicles of my last log, I noted that during this holy month of Ramadan, all Muslims like myself, faithful or not, will begin the practice of fasting. Surviving this month is something that I look forward to every year, mostly given that the Eid festivities in Malaysia brings with it the best local delicacies, and treats for me to feast on. Otherwise, surviving The Great Fast has always given me the sense of satisfaction, that my one month's worth of discipline, patience, and dieting has done wonders to my body and soul.
I'm not sure if that ever materialises into something palpable, but it's always great to get back into a life of normality once it's all over. This is a tradition that not only Muslims have to follow, as I recall the Jewish tradition of Lent is a much harder prospect to endure. For Muslims during Ramadan, fasting is mandatory for about a month - beginning from the first prayer of the day, which is usually before dawn; until the fourth prayer, sometime about dusk. That's comfortably 13-ish hours of not eating, drinking, among other things that apparently taint the spirit of the faithful.
Credits to: mrktrs
The actual conditions, with the 'dos and don’ts ' around fasting are surprisingly strict from what I've learned, but not giving much of a bother for most of these, I just focus on the parts that I can ingest. As a child, I dreaded the need to fast, but over time, I'd like to think that constant practice has made me better at it. Over the course of a decade and a half later, I've learned some ways of how to make Ramadan a whole lot more fun - with making the time pass quicker, while still staying more productive in the meantime.
This is ever more pertinent now that the world is locked down, and as I've detailed in my previous logs, there are some benefits to fasting while under quarantine, for yourself, and for others. If you're keen to try it out, whether you're looking at dieting more, or to practice some form of intermittent-fasting - here's some tips and tricks for what you should do before, during, and after fasting, while also trying to not lose your mind.
The Calm Before The Storm.
Credits to: GIPHY
Until dawn… - Sahūr, or sahoor , is what we call our pre-dawn breakfast, held before the call for the first prayer, known as fajr , which happens around 5.30am in my time-zone. Sahoor is an chance to get your body stocked up on some food and water, before fasting starts. As they say, "breakfast is the most important meal of the day ", and sahoor will help you to get along the day a bit easier if you've at least had a full belly. However, it's also important to know how to manage your consumption during this time, and it's best to just have the same portions that you'd normally take for a regular breakfast.
Never over-eat… - On that note, there's a misconception that ingesting more prior to the start of the fast, will somehow make it more bearable. Not only is this untrue, it has the opposite effect of making you feel more famished than you would've been, had you taken regular portions instead. Have you noticed how heavy breakfasts tend to make you eat more during lunch? It's important that during sahoor , or breaking of the fast on the previous day, to just consume what you need, and not much more.
Mind, Body, And Soul.
Credits to: GIPHY
Don’t think about it… - When you're desperate for a pee, the last thing you want to do, is think on it. The same principle goes, and while fasting - what you don't want to do, is ponder about all the tasty things that you're missing out on. In fact, try to not even look at any food or water while you're on that fast, while psychologically branding them with disgust, and filled with hatred. Those cooking videos on YouTube, an infomercial on a new snack, or your mates having a succulent cup of iced latte next to you - just block all of that from you mind. They're not the thoughts you're looking for.
Minimise your expense… - No, this isn't about money, but how much you're expensing on energy. If you have something to do that may soak up your calories or hydration, consider putting it off until after breaking fast, if that's an option. Stuff like cleaning up the house, organising your shelves, doing the laundry, or any other laborious tasks are things that you could do later on, without any consequences, while allowing your daily fast to get along easier.
Shush!... - Talking is an exercise in using saliva, and the more you talk, the more parched you'll feel. Avoid this by talking less, or not talking at all if you could. Who cares about what other people are saying, you're just trying to survive until the sun goes down!
Credits to: Pinterest
Mind the climate… - Try to keep yourself, and your body under optimum conditions while you're trying to fast. I don't know how people manage this in the desert, but here, under the tropical sun, it gets really hot and humid right quick. Don't expose yourself to places that are too cold, or too hot. If you sweat, you naturally need more water to stay hydrated, and if you're feeling too cold, then you instincts desire to consume something nice and warm, like a hot drink.
Stay on top of things… - Despite all that, it's still important to try and stay productive, or to distract yourself with simple, effortless activities. If you're wanting to make it easier, don't stress yourself physically. Do some meditations, watch a movie, read a book, or play some games while you're at it. If you have some work to do, try and optimise it well by doing all the difficult bits after breaking fast, instead. Not only will this give you a chance to have fun, and maybe learn something new, it's a handy distraction. Remember, time flies when you're having fun.
Just sleep-in… - Alternatively, you can opt to not even bother with doing all that, and just sleep your way through the fasting period of the day. Since we're under lockdown, this option is more permissible, and if your schedule is free for the mornings and afternoons, then you could just sleep-in until its time to break fast, if you're that bold. The less time you're awake while fasting, the less fasting you have to do - who knew? I remembered a time back when I was in school, where during the holidays, my brother and I would play games even as dawn came, and we slept until about 4pm. In the context of Ramadan, we only had 3 hours left before breaking fast, which was easy at that point.
Credits to: Pinterest
Stocking up on spit… - This one might sound weird, but it does work if you're feeling a bit thirsty. Rather than swallowing your spit in small gulps, try and lengthen the intervals, and let your saliva build up at the back of your mouth, before downing it. This has the effect of making you feel like you've taken a swig of water. So, don't knock it until you've tried it.
Minty fresh… - If you're feeling a bit parched, keeping yourself cool and refreshed will help to cope with that. Remember, you can't drink during Ramadan fasting, but nobody said anything about not being able to have some water splashed around your month, so long as you don't swallow it. Have a gargle of water every now and then, and make sure you gargle right deep in there, until it hits the back of your throat. If you have some minty mouthwash, then you could use that too, for that everlasting, breezy cool effect.
Know when to stop… - Regardless of how faithful you are to the timely traditions of practicing the fast, it's even more important to take care of your well-being, and know when to stop. If you're ill, or you're in need of something to eat or drink, then worry not about fasting. Doing this will only make you even more unwell, so have some food, water, or take your medication, if you need it.
Here Comes The Sun.
Credits to: Cartoon Brew
Don't eat voraciously… - Finally, it's time to start eating again by breaking fast, or iftar ! Here's a tip: start eating and drinking slowly, and steadily - as if you're having a regular meal. Here, it's tradition to have a swig of milk, and some dates, before you go to the main course. Start eating ravenously, and you'll not only get indigestion, but you'll also not get the full effect. Avoid the all-you-can-eat feeding frenzy, and only take your normal portions, maybe just a bit extra, but never drink or eat too much.
Get the right stuff… - It's not just eating and drinking in the right amounts, but also a choice of what you consume that matters. Make sure they're filling, and they have all the calories, proteins, and vitamins that you need. Different people have varying diets, so you'll know more about what you should, or shouldn't eat. Taking junk food, or fizzy carbonated drinks at the start of your fast breaking, isn't a good idea.
Live, Die, Repeat.
Credits to: GIPHY
Well, I suppose quoting Edge of Tomorrow would be an exaggeration, but fasting is an exercise in extreme patience as you play the same routines, with its hardships every day, for the next 30 days. I do believe the coming of the fasting month of Ramadan during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus ) outbreak can be considered a timely approach. In a religious and traditional context anyways, fasting is a time for compassion, and helping to carry the burden of those who are less fortunate.
It's a time to be charitable, by indulging less for yourself, and to give away more for those who are in need. With lockdowns around the globe having slowed food production - the less you eat, the more there is to go around for those, who might otherwise have scarcely enough for a simple meal. If you are fasting, or are looking into the idea, I hope this little guide will prove helpful in your endeavours to make it more tolerable. If you have any other tips, suggestions, or thoughts, then feel free to leave them in the comments. In the meantime, take care, and stay safe!