So I fast. Being a Muslim I fast during the month of Ramadan, but I also fast outside Ramadan, not just to make up for the ones I have missed during Ramadan, but also because it is actually the most fulfilling feeling for me. Fasting is essential in Islam because it not only brings us closer to God, but it disciplines us in a kind of way that is necessary to function in everyday life. In other words it organises our life for us quite naturally. But to simply fast, without having religious backing for it, would seem strange. Most non-Muslim friends I speak to find it a preposterous idea to wake up at the crack of dawn to eat, and break the fast at sunset, and they most immediately assume it the most arduous task for me. I don’t know how convincing I sound but I always hope I try to be as assuring to them as possible as to how it is necessary to me for my health.
When considering health and wellbeing, there are some things that need to be taken into account in order to successfully achieve the best results. These are mainly what you eat, how you sleep and how active you are in your life. I can safely say that when fasting, I can quite easily nail these important aspects of good life. For years I have tried to regulate my diet plan to balancing everything and getting the best nutrients possible, and while fasting I manage to do that. It is the perfect equilibrium. So while I fast, I have all good foods, which make a week much more balanced and I get to maintain, if not increase my energy levels. I achieve this my eating healthy low-carb meals. For example, at breakfast I would have something light like muesli with skimmed milk, and a handful of mixed dried fruit and nut and yoghurt, and for dinner I would opt for something like grilled fish, mixed salad, brussel sprouts with a dash of crushed potato. And for drinks I would consume as much herbal tea as possible, which for me would be a good 3-4 mugs of either green or peppermint tea. This makes my non-fast days easy for me to choose what I eat, as I can compensate by having more carbohydrate inducing foods like creamy pasta, fried meat, and sweet things like cake with a small scoop of ice cream, as long as I control my intake and maintain my herbal tea drinking. And I do not feel the need to eat more than I need to. As my weight has decreased I have noticed a decrease in my stomach size as well, which means my stomach gets full up much more easily, and I feel extremely satisfied. I find this definitely effective for myself. Drinking herbal tea, especially green tea has helped to increase my metabolic rate and complement my pattern of eating.
So eating is fairly organised, but what about sleep? Some people think sleep is disturbed because of fasting, but on the contrary, sleep is extremely regular, and I sleep early, and rise early. In fact the best thing about fasting is how it regulates your sleeping pattern, and it is invigorating to wake up in the morning, fresh and ready to start the day. For years I have been quite a night person, sleeping late, and waking up late, to find my whole day gone and I feel a sense of loss, of having wasted the whole day. But since I have frequently started fasting, my sleep has got much better, and I feel better.
And though most people would think fasting causes lethargy and sloth-like feelings, it is untrue. On the other hand, fasting does not stop me from going about my daily active day. I behave as I would if I were not fasting, so, not only are you cutting down on eating, but you are sustaining your active life. This I manage to do by eating wholesomely during my non-fast days, so I do not find the need to change my daily habits of activity, and I actually feel energised. Some may say that this on and off way of fasting is attainable, but what about during a whole month of Ramadan, where it is continuous? In this case, I carry the same intermittent pattern of eating, where some days I eat light, healthy meals, and some days I incorporate more fatty foods to keep that balance going, and it really does help me to keep a steady, healthy weight. It is delightful to see the results of fasting, and I know from personal experience that doing so manages weight wonderfully.