It is yet another holy month of fasting for Ahmed Abdi, a Kenyan
Muslim who is bracing for fasting Ramadan during a hot, dry summer.
But having fasted Ramadan
for many years, Abdi, 30, believes he has mastered the art of overcoming thirst
and hunger in preparation for this dry season. Over the years his formula of
survival has been overreliance on food and drinks.
“Over all those years of
fasting, I made sure that I eat, eat and eat during non-fasting hours, because
I want to have the energy to continue fasting for all the 30 days,” he told
“I think it will be the
same formula for me this time around when there is a crippling dry season in
this part of Africa.”
Oblivious to the
impending health implications of overeating, Abdi is among many around the
world who are yet to understand the jigsaw puzzle to maintain a healthy body
during the holy month.
Abdi assumes large
quantities of food can be beneficial to stimulate energy and maintain the
required body metabolic rate.
“I am not the only one
who does that. I am certain many other Muslims out there eat large amounts of
food to survive the long hours of fasting” he says.
But if his experience is
anything to go by, eating large quantities of food comes with little, if no
extra benefit to the fasting body.
I have realized is that, when I eat less food at dinner and Suhur I become active and lighter than when
I eat more food. But it is my perception that I must eat a lot.”
Although many like him
are hesitant to change their dietary adaptation, Abdi’s experience with
overeating underlines the importance of a proper diet during the holy month of
Ramadan, where an improper diet can become counterproductive.
Just Like Any Other Day
Achieving and maintaining
a healthy diet can be challenging. A person must sustain a careful balance
between calories consumed and energy expended for efficiency.
This year when Ramadan
falls in the summer, we will have very long and hot days to contend with. Most
health troubles are likely to result from unsuitable diet or as a consequence
From Islam’s perspective, overeating contradicts the principal
aims and spirit of Ramadan where a Muslim shares the feeling of hunger with the
From a medical
standpoint, the habit of overeating is also prohibited for its adverse effects
on the mechanisms that regulate the body’s metabolic rate.
Nutrition experts and
dieticians say that overeating is an issue that will only add to the escalation
of one’s poor body performance when fasting.
A proper diet that has a
smaller amount of food but is satisfactorily balanced will keep the fasting
Muslim healthy and active during the holy month of Ramadan.
According to Mahat
Mohamed, a Kenyan nutritionist, the best policy is to take in normal quantities
of food groups just like any other day of the year.
“To remain healthy during
Ramadan, normal quantities of food from the major food groups: bread and
cereal, milk and dairy product, fish, meat and poultry, beans, vegetable and
fruit should be consumed,” noted Mohamed.
“One must ensure that
these food groups are adequately and well balanced as per the food pyramid.”
According to a Ramadan
Guide prepared by Communities in Action Enterprises, a not-for-profit organization
based in the United Kingdom, fasting can advance the health of an individual if
a proper nutritional plan is adhered to.
“The fasts of Ramadan can
improve a person’s health but if the correct diet is not followed – can
possibly worsen it! The deciding factor isn't the fast itself, but rather what
is consumed in the non-fasting hours,” reads part of the guide.
researchers say that, in order to fully benefit from…
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