PEI

5 tips for a healthier Ramadan on P.E.I.

The Island's Muslim community is getting ready for Ramadan, the holy month when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for about 30 days.

Staying hydrated, keeping active and napping

While he isn't a medical expert, Omair Imtiaz has been participating in Ramadan his whole life. Here are a few tips and tricks he's learned along the way to staying healthy during Ramadan.  (Submitted by Omair Imtiaz)

The Island's Muslim community is getting ready for Ramadan, a holy time during the ninth month of the lunar-based Islamic calendar, when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for about 30 days. 

During Ramadan, Muslims aim to disconnect from the material world and seek a deeper spiritual connection with God. This year Ramadan is expected to begin on May 5 and last until June 4 — though that could change as those dates are determined by the sighting of a new moon. 

Omair Imtiaz was born and raised in Dubai. In 2007, he moved to the Maritimes to pursue an education in biology and health care. He works nights in Belfast, P.E.I., at the John Gillis Memorial Lodge as a personal support worker. He's an active member of the Muslim community on the Island and volunteers with various outreach programs to fundraise for causes related to cancer and The Heart and Stroke Foundation. 

While he isn't a medical expert, he's been participating in Ramadan his whole life. Here are a few tips and tricks he's learned along the way to staying healthy during Ramadan. 

Imtiaz recommends walking around with a reusable water bottle after dusk. That way — it's always in your hands as a friendly reminder. (Navneet Pall/CBC)

1. Drink water

"Hydration is definitely one of the most important factors for Ramadan," Imtiaz said. 

Because Muslims aren't able to drink between the hours of dawn and dusk it's extra important to make sure to drink plenty of water, Imtiaz said. He recommends walking around with a reusable water bottle after dusk. That way — it's always in your hands as a friendly reminder.

2. Don't overeat

While Ramadan requires you to fast every day for 29 or 30 days from dawn to dusk — it doesn't necessarily mean you'll lose weight, Imtiaz said. 

"You would think that you'd lose weight but ... a lot of people, what they end up doing is eating a lot, like just gorging on food after sunset and ... then you actually end up gaining weight," Imtiaz said. 

Imtiaz suggests eating only until you feel full and satisfied. 

"You definitely don't want to be hungry and thirsty all day and then end up completely filling your belly," he said. 

Over the years, Imtiaz says, he sees family and friends gravitate toward deep-fried, oily and high-sodium foods when breaking fast during Ramadan.  (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

3. Make healthy food choices

Over the years, Imtiaz says, he sees family and friends gravitate toward deep-fried, oily foods that are high in sodium when breaking fast during Ramadan. 

Imtiaz says eating a few dates during sohoor — the meal eaten at dawn before fasting begins — is a great way to start the day and, in his experience, can abate headaches and dizzy spells from fasting.

'Fasting really should never be an excuse not to do anything,' Imtiaz says. (Odua Images/Shutterstock)

4. Keep moving

"If you've eaten moderately then you will not feel lethargic, you'll feel like you'll be able to go around, go for a walk. And it's highly recommended actually," Imtiaz said. 

While it's probably not suggested to continue your intense daily two-hour workout during Ramadan, going for a walk or a jog for about 20 minutes is definitely manageable, he said. 

"Fasting really should never be an excuse not to do anything," Imtiaz said. Staying fit during Ramadan just takes a little bit of planning ahead and adjustment to make sure it works for you, he said.

Although not everyone is able to find a quiet place to rest due to school and work schedules — if you're able to, it definitely helps to recharge, Imtiaz says. (Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock)

5. Catch some extra Zs

Fasting can be draining and taking an afternoon nap is a good idea, Imtiaz says. Although not everyone is able to find a quiet place to rest due to school and work schedules — if you're able to, it definitely helps to recharge your energy so you can make it to dusk.

He recommends taking a cat nap around 1:30 p.m. or 5 p.m. — after prayers. 

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