With the long hours and humid weather with this year. I quickly realised the only way I could continue to fast successfully whilst maintains my day job in the city would be to eat healthily, like really healthily. The notion of eating to live rather than living to eat has really rung true with me this Ramadan. Not only that, with a demanding job in London city, my brain would have to be as sharp as ever to ensure my performance did not fall short this month. I find it hard enough to get out of bad on a normal day, throwing a really long fast fast into the mix, coupled with some rare hot weather and I was seriously worried about how I would cope. Ramadan is important to me, as is not getting fired so I had to work out a way that I could engage in this holy month and still handle a day job and a business. Cue a Skype session with mama, because that’s how all solutions are solved duh. An hour later I was motivated and armed with my action-plan on how to boss through the month.
The key I (we) found, was planning ahead, and cute colour coded containers that could store my Sunday shop for the week. So that Sunday I stocked up on a load of vegetables, fruit, lean protein and other goodies from @wholefoodsuk and @asnatureintendeduk. The plan was to opt for foods that could get me past the finished line for what is essentially a 21 hour fast. Yes, technically it is a 19 hour fast but realistically, it turns out to be much longer, as it is not possible to stay up much past 12 when you have to be up at 7 am the next day. So the eating window is actually 3.5 hours long on weekdays.
Noting this, made me realise that my body would need proper fuel to function, rather than yummy fried stuff that tastes WONDERFUL but will only make fasting hard and unenjoyable. Since my fasting debut at the tender age of 9, I have always loved this month for the physical and spiritual detox that it induces, and if it meant making a few simple changes in order to carry on enjoying this month then I was game!
So what have I been eating this past week? Read on to find out what my Ramadan table looks like.
To break the fast I have one date, followed by a two cups of warm or room temperature cup of water. One with a shot of spirulina powder and one with a shot of fresh Aloe Vera. The health benefits of Spirulina are widely documented and known but in short, Spirulina is algae which receives energy directly from the Sun in a much higher density than other food sources. This makes it the original super food and one of THE most nutritious food sources on the face of the planet. Scientists say it gets to work as soon as you’ve swallowed it and boosts a myriad of body systems, detoxifies impurities and strengthens vital organs. It also reduces fatigue and suppresses those hunger pangs so it is easy to see why I have become best buddies with this green, funny-tasting powder. Aloe vera is also another widely nourishing plant and aids with digestion, because, is it just me or do things get slower during Ramadan?!
Maghrib prayer comes next as a) it’s better to pray sooner than later and b) my stomach can’t handle much more than this at this stage anyway.
Now onto my iftar meals which have been looking a lot like the picture above. A dinner-sized plate of fruit and veggies, all with awesome nutrients and cool tricks that will help my body rejuvenate after the day’s fast and prepare for the next. Watermelon (hydrating and good for digestion), sauerkraut (probiotic inducing which leads to a healthy tummy), oranges, (great for energy) avocado (abundant in nutrients, heart healthy, fibrous and filling), cucumbers (hydrating, anti-inflammatory) tomatoes (reduces cholesterol and a great source of antioxidants). I interchange the banana and avocado and tomatoes with other fruit and veg, but the rest are firm staples, particularly the watermelon… mmm watermelon… Not only does this initial ‘meal’ satiate my thirst and hunger significantly, it equips my body with so much goodness that it leaves me feeling energised and revitalised rather than bloated and sluggish.
Next it’s the main meal which is a saucer-sized plate of veg and protein (pictured above). I have been favouring broccoli and mackerel as they are the tastiest and super wholesome with a load of health benefits. I try to go for 1 and a half litres of water minimum and I usually achieve that so I am pretty full by the end of all this. However, if I’m still feeling peckish then a bowl of porridge with oat milk (ew cow’s milk ew), or a bowl of quinoa as pictured will do the trick. Either one can be topped with bananas, berries and nuts for more punch, and I always sprinkle some chia seeds on top for extra protein and fullness.
If it’s a weekday then that’s me done. I won’t get up to eat before Fajr (although it is sunna so if you can, then do it). Instead I get up around 4 am to pray then SPRINT back to bed for those precious few hours of sleep. On my off days however I will have the pre-dawn meal, which consists of a berry, beetroot, and chia shake made using the really handy Breville personal blender. You literally pop your ingredients into the sports bottle which has a whizzy thing at the bottom and kaboom, I’m ready to fast my socks off for the next 20 hours.
For more tips on how to stay strong and energised this Ramadan check out these useful links:
I really enjoy following Zehra Allibhai (Zallibha) on Instagram. She stays active and posts quick tips on how to stay healthy during the month. Check out her blog where you can access a number of recipes and download her free healthy Ramadan guide: https://www.thefitnest.ca/
I’ll be posting more of my Ramadan meals on Instagram so keep an eye out on there and let me know what kind of meals you guys have been eating?