It’s been ten years since I have passed out from a university. And, soon after that, I started to read, research and talk to people about weight loss. I have become such an expert on this topic that whoever tells me about some exercise or diets I seriously want to shove that idea down their… throat!
I know about all the diets exist on this planet from banana diet to Keto, every tea that has been sprouted out of the mother nature’s womb, all the stuff about toning the body and get into shape; from cardio to strength and even Zumba, is in my brain. Consequently, I am highly uninterested in whatever the magical potion people tell me about.
I am remarkably enlightened about weight loss regimes that I can write a best-selling book, run my own successful fitness studio, record the CD of moves which can melt the fat in 30 days and be a nutritionist or a weight loss consultant. Then you all must be wondering why I am here killing my time rather than making millions and tons of money. The answer is simple: I love to be in my comfort zone.
Am I lazy? No, I am super fast and energetic.
Am I hesitant to start it as a business? Yes, because it is not my desired field.
Have I lost hope of being skinny? Hain! Excuse me! Who said that I want to be skinny? Alhamdulillah! bhae khaatay peetay gharanay se hain.
Then, what is the problem? There is no problem.
I am a 100% foodie. And, when after university, the long walks, badminton and a daily journey in a public bus came to a full stop, my body started to swell. I was least bother at first but when my clothes got tight, I got a little nervous. But how can someone ignore fries and pizza and zinger. Therefore, I tried hard to go on diets but not a single one lasted long. Then I thought exercise is my key to success but I cannot run on a treadmill after eight hours of work and total 3.5 hours of travelling. Zumba excited me; it’s a dance not an exercise. But who will move the tired butt after a long day. So, after years of trying I realized that my metabolism rate is slow and I need to think of flushing out the waste more frequently out of my body than to preserve it like cows. (I know my similes are gross!) Today, I am a happy and a healthy (not obese) person. I sometimes try to be on a balanced healthy diet at which I fail at weekends. But there is a month in which I extremely feel fresh and healthy as compared to other people around me. Yes, it is the blessed month of Ramadan.
When my friends and colleagues complain about being lethargic, bloated and sleep deprived in Ramadan, I share my routine and they listen to it half-heartedly not believing me at all as they are aware of my love for food. The holy month is about to begin soon, I got an idea to share my experience with the world. And, who knows one day I might write a book on it.
It all started about eight to ten years ago. It was the beginning of second ashrah and the monstrous pimples pop out of mine and my siblings’ skin. They rapidly grew and covered the whole face… some were pointed, some deep-rooted, some crusty and some pulpy. I usually make the connection of skin problems with the stomach, I came to realize that the oily pakoras, poppadoms, and the like stuff which we devour in our iftari are a reason behind it. Once I got diarrhoea too because of overeating, what one can expect after filling the stomach sack with chana chaat, pakoray, samosay, fruit, kachori, sandwich, milkshake; and I had to leave two rozas in a row. That was devastating. I minimized the amount of oily stuff for the rest of the days and for the later years (only for Ramadan) I made some extremely beneficial changes and the results were shown instantly. I call this ‘clean diet’.
Following are the magical pointers of this diet. A cheat meal is allowed.
Like million others I *open my fast with a date, drink a glass of cold water in 2-3 gulps, chew another date. And as soon the second finishes I offer my Maghrib prayers.
Don’t I suffer hunger pangs with only two dates and a glass of water?
No, I don’t. Dates increase energy level within half an hour of consumption. As soon the body absorbs it, the hunger is pacified. This enables us to avoid overeating. So during the prayer, in ruku or sajdah, I don’t feel like vomiting out the content of my stomach. After the prayer, I do not feel lethargic or like hitting the bed. Rather, I wash all the utensils used in iftar and then tea, and clean the kitchen.
Dates are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre. A significant amount of potassium helps the nervous system. Fibre means ta-ta to constipation. It improves heart health and strengthens bones. The best part is dates are free from cholesterol and contain very little fat. **Even the diabetics can have 2-3 dates per day.
Oh yes! It is sunnah too. So it is a win-win situation.
PS: Ladies! It has anti-ageing properties as it improves the elasticity of the skin.
The integral part of iftari, in my family, is dahi baray. With two tablespoons of boiled chickpeas I enjoy a bowl of this relish after namaz-e-Maghrib. Yoghurt is best to treat the parched throat and return all the nutrients to your body, which have been lost during the day in sweat and urine, therefore, it is highly recommended to drink lassi.
Since yoghurt contains a massive amount of protein it increases metabolism and regulates appetite; gives a feeling of fullness. It also contains calcium and vitamin D which play a vital role in bone health.
Do I like fruit? I love fruit. Fruit is in my blood.
My family considers fruit as the most precious blessing of Allah. Usually, people make a fruit chaat in Ramadan and serve it at iftar. However, I am extremely against using any additional flavour be it sugar or chaat masala in a fruit chaat. Why do we need to season a sweet fruit with some spicy and tangy stuff when they are already loaded with its own taste?
So, when the fruit is cut and mixed, my mother (as per my preference) separates my share in a large bowl and season the other bowl for the whole family. I devour this treat between the Maghrib and Esha prayers and sometimes after Taravih (if there is no milkshake).
Water is an essential part of this diet. While we are having Ramadan in summer for some years, its importance has become more fundamental. Increase your water intake as much as possible. Try to hydrate your body with 10-12 glasses of water before you go to sleep.
Yes! At least till Sehri.
Don’t the spicy fritters, chillos tempt me?
Yes, they do. And I eat them too. As I said I am a 100% foodie I do not keep these delicious savouries on hold, just have them in moderation, like a pakora with tea, or a chicken sandwich or a single serving of onion ring. I follow ‘1 thing a day rule’, which means I can eat only a single fried item. Twice this month we have only biryani in iftar, that is an exceptional day. My family becomes carnivorous in Ramadan; my mother cooks delicious supper for dinner. I eat this meal in Sehri with chapati along with a small bowl of pheni.
Do I follow this diet to lose my weight?
No, not at all. I follow this diet because of the few reasons:
1. In Ramadan, people overeat; stuff themselves with random snacks. Due to the notorious diet which contains litres of oil, gram flour, spices, and odd timings of supper, people complain of bloating and gas. And it is really upsetting when the wudu nullify again and again during ibadat. I love to offer Taravih prayers regularly throughout the Ramadan. Digestive/intestinal problems break the tempo and create a disturbance, for that reason I avoid consuming food that produces flatulence.
2. If you are stuffed at night time, you wouldn’t be able to eat Sehri. It is advised to keep the stomach empty so that Sehri can be enjoyed. After all, it is the only month in which the whole family gathers to eat before dawn.
3. Oily and spicy food provides heaps of pimples. I don’t want to ruin my Eid with poked face.
Beside this clean diet, I have made some smart choices which are not only limited to Ramadan.
1. I do not take sugar in my tea. It’s been eighteen years since I last added a tablespoon of it.
2. When I came to know about the osteoporosis, I gave up fizzy drinks. Its more than 2 years now.
3. I eat chapattis of whole wheat only.
4. I drink 10-12 glasses of water daily.
5. In view of the fact that I don’t like the milk flavour, I drink 2-3 glasses of milk in a week.
“When the month of Ramadan begins, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of hellfire are closed and the devils are chained.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Ramadan is one of the most sacred and blessed months. It is the month in which Allah revealed Quran for the guidance of mankind. We should try to make most out of it by spending more time in worship than in a kitchen. Please do not open your fast with fizzy drinks. These drinks damage the stomach walls and harm the kidneys. We all should be very careful about our health so that we do not suffer from dysentery or diarrhoea. May Allah enable us to gain all the rewards of Ramadan and bestow His mercy and blessings upon us, our family and whole Muslim ummah. I’ll also be sharing some delightful juices and yummy milkshakes’ recipes to beat the heat of the summer. So keep reading and have a blessed Ramadan!
*people translate roza kholna as breaking of fast. I do not agree to this as we do not break the fast but open it.
**consult your physician