Fasting tips for Ramadan

Dry lips, low energy, and a rumbling stomach. Fasting is hard, but going to school or work during Ramadan is even harder. Not only are you thirsty and hungry, but you’re also sleep-deprived from waking up in the wee hours of the morning for sahur, a meal eaten before dawn during the holy month. Trust me, I’ve been fasting for more than 15 years.

Sharing is caring, and I’d like to impart some nifty tips for fellow Muslims to survive this Ramadan. Here are some fasting tips and tricks to help you tahan better, coming from someone who’s tested it all out.

1. Book an unused meeting room during lunch to power nap

One of the biggest struggles of Ramadan is being tired at work after waking up at 5am for your pre-dawn meal. Since you’re not going to dabao food during your 1-hour lunch break, why not use the time to catch up on some sleep instead?

While everyone’s busy munching away, try to book an unused meeting room to squeeze in a quick power nap. I’d recommend bringing a pair of eyeshades, a comfy blanket, and a small pillow to help you sleep better. You can also use earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones for a peaceful rest. Just make sure to set an alarm so you don’t oversleep!

2. Ask your boss if you can work through lunch hour to end earlier

If you don’t fancy taking a nap, consider asking your boss if you can work through your lunch hour and knock off early instead. My energy level usually starts to sap around 6pm, anyway, so it’s a win-win scenario.

If you’re someone who likes to work in “do not disturb” mode, working through lunch also ensures that you can focus without having to reply to your boss’ messages. After all, everyone else will be at lunch, so this is the best time to tick a few things off your to-do list.

3. Pack a DIY “survival kit” if you need to brace the hot sun 

Image credit: Must Share News

Singapore’s weather has been really hot lately, exceeding 35°C on some days. Avoid going out into the sun from mid- to late- afternoon, as that’s usually the hottest time of the day. Sweating too much will cause your body to lose water and electrolytes.

Pro tip: Pack a “survival kit” with you. So if you do need to go out, you can shade yourself with a foldable umbrella. Other essentials to include in your kit are a portable fan and some cooling wet wipes to keep you fresh.

4. Add electrolytes to your water to retain vitamins better

In that same vein, it’s important to stay hydrated, especially in the heat. However, we can’t eat or drink for more than 13 hours during Ramadan. To help combat that, add some electrolytes to your water during sahur. Electrolytes help ensure that our body retains the necessary nutrients longer, helping you stay hydrated.

You can choose to stock up on drinks such as Pocari Sweat and 100 Plus, which have been enhanced with sodium, magnesium, and other electrolytes to retain hydration. Otherwise, drink coconut water or fruits like watermelons, leafy veggies, and yoghurt. Personally, I like adding a pinch of Himalayan salt to my water and chugging it down.

5. Avoid tiring yourself out by giving day-to-day tasks a lil more time 

If you’re someone who’s always running late, here’s a reminder that all that rushing around will take up a lot of energy. And that’s something we should preserve as much as we can. When you’re fasting, giving yourself a 5-minute buffer will ensure that you have more time to walk to your destination at a slower pace.

I usually plan my commute with Google Maps and bus apps like MyTransport.SG. Who knows, you might even find a more shaded route instead of taking that shortcut where you’ll have to walk in the scorching sun.

6. Catch up on work or plan your mugging sessions right after sahur

If you find it hard to go back to sleep after waking up for sahur, perhaps it’s best to get a head start on the day. If you’ve read The 5AM Club, a book by Robin Sharma, you’ll know that it’s the time when you’ll have enhanced focus and concentration. This might also help you get the important things out of the way first, just in case your energy level drops during the day.

7. Cap your caffeine intake to avoid energy crashes & dehydration

If you’re a caffeine addict, you may think your pre-dawn meal is the best time to chug coffee like there’s no tomorrow. But that may work against your favour. Too much caffeine can cause you to be dehydrated quicker, and you may get a “crash” a few hours later, resulting in poor concentration.

Add all those factors up and you’d be making yourself tired before the day even starts. Instead, try to limit your caffeine intake to a cup each morning. Ramadan is about practising self-control anyway, so now’s the best time to start cutting down.

8. Meal prep on weekends to sleep more on weekdays

Ramadan fasting hacks - meal prep

“I’ll just lay down for just 5 more minutes then get up to cook sahur,” you may think to yourself. Anyone who’s a pro at snoozing alarms would know that never works out, and you might risk waking up late and missing the window to eat.

To avoid taking this L, use the weekend to meal prep for the week ahead instead. That way, all you have to do is microwave your food in the morning, which allows a few more minutes of sleep. Alternatively, whip up a quick shake by blending up some milk, fruit, veggies and protein powder if you don’t feel like scarfing down a meal.

To wake up on time, set alarms at several intervals and put them across or even outside your room so you have to get out of bed to reach it.

9. Do 30-second quick breathing exercises to reduce hangriness

Despite our best efforts, hunger may creep in from time to time. If you find yourself experiencing that, detach from your work and incorporate something as simple as quick breathing exercises. There are many mental health apps to download if you need some guidance.

Headspace, for example, has a selection of soundscapes to choose from depending on your mood. Savanna Dawn mimics a peaceful morning on the African savanna, perfect for a chill pre-dawn meal, while Jungle Chorus lets you fall asleep to the sound of tropical birds.

You can also adopt some power poses to make you feel more energetic. Remember when you were a kid and you posed like a superhero? Replicate that. Well, maybe in the washroom so you don’t get weird looks from your colleagues.

10. Keep some snacks in case you miss iftar

ramadan fasting tips - snack

Sometimes, you’re unlucky enough to find yourself unable to reach home in time for iftar, the fast-breaking meal. Bus late, MRT breakdown, or OT, you name it.

Keep some snacks with you, such as protein bars, mixed nuts, dates, or dried fruits. This ensures that you get enough nutrients to break your fast, rather than resorting to fast food – until you get to eat a proper meal, that is.

11. “Practice” fasting beforehand

You know what they say, preparation is key. For Muslims, it is encouraged to fast on Mondays and Thursdays. So make yourself ready to face the next fasting month by occasionally fasting outside Ramadan.

The best time to fast is on weekends, so you’re not too tired at work. Practise mindful moderate eating so you won’t get hangry as easily the next Ramadan. By the time it comes, you will be ready.

Bonus: Bring a toothbrush to tackle bad breath

It’s common to find yourself having bad breath when you’re fasting, since dehydration can lead to bacteria flourising in your mouth. To avoid that, pack a toothbrushing kit with you. But don’t gargle or rinse your mouth. This will wash and heavily dilute the fluoride, reducing its effects. Spitting it out helps let the fluoride do its job and keep your breath fresh.

An electric toothbrush is more convenient when you’re out and about – and if you’re kiasu, you can also use a tongue scraper for extra assurance.

Thrive during this Ramadan with these hacks 

Now that you’re fully equipped with these fasting hacks, this special month will zoom by quickly. Above everything, just remember to listen to your body as only you would know best.  If you struggled in the first half of Ramadan, don’t worry. As mentioned earlier, Ramadan is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s not about how you start, but how you finish, so finish strong.

For other things Ramadan-related check out

Cover image adapted from: The Smart Local

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