The last 10 days of Ramadan are finally upon us. We all know the great value these last 10 days hold on our scale. They are the days in which lies the day Allah equates to the value of 1000 months. If you’re like me, the last thing you want to do is waste the opportunity for such a massive reward dozing off and sleeping the day away, instead of spending the day AND night in worship. After 20 days of Ramadan however, it’s more than likely you’re starting to feel groggy, exhausted, and drained. That’s why it’s important to make sure we prepare our bodies to handle the long stretches of prayers that await us.
So here’s a list of 6 healthy things you can start doing right this moment to prepare your body to be in the best shape to take advantage of all the blessings in these last 10 days.
- Cut out the “white foods”
Imagine you’re on a rollercoaster, it’s going up for that first massive drop, once you reach the peak the coaster drops immediately to the bottom. The higher the peak the quicker it reaches the bottom. That’s basically your blood sugar when it consumes “white foods.” White foods here refers to foods with white sugar and carbs like white rice. When you consume these foods during iftar or during suhoor you’ll feel that immense rush and amazing peak as you would on the roller coaster. And just like the coaster you’ll feel a sudden massive dip once you hit the peak, the difference? Unlike on a coaster, the dip you feel afterwards is not a fun feeling at all. You’ll feel tired, irritable, hungry (again), and you won’t be able to maintain that focus and khushoo you need for a fulfilling salah. Instead ditch the sugary drinks, the chocolatey drinks, and maybe replace the white rice with some brown rice or Quinoa. The result? Your body will feel refreshed, stable, and your mind will feel clearer. You can find out what foods are good replacements for white foods here.
- Save the feasts for Eid
It was narrated that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “The worst vessel the son (or daughter) of Adam ever fills is his (or her) stomach. It is enough for the son of Adam to eat a few morsels that will straighten his back. If he cannot do so, then he/she may fill one third of his/her stomach with food, one third with water, and leave one third for air.”
The Prophet here is advising us to avoid being excessive in our food intake. The important bit to notice is the Prophet’s emphasis on leaving room for our stomachs to breath. A full stomach leads to your body focusing its energy on breaking down and digesting the food, leaving little if any for prayer and supplication. Reduce your portions, go lighter on the fats and carbs, and consume easy to digest foods like soups, salads, and fruits to best boost your energy. A good rule to follow is to eat till you’re satisfied, not till you’re full.
- Get your caffeine from teas, not coffee
Caffeine is an extremely powerful tool when used effectively. Generally, when you consume caffeine regularly your body becomes accustomed to it and it’s effectiveness at maintaining higher energy levels can be diminished due to your body becoming normalized to its effect. However, during Ramadan, because we’re unable to drink those 2-3 cups of coffee throughout the day as usual, we can tap into the full power of caffeine to increase our productivity and amount of time awake. Hold your horses! Before you go and pour that Turkish coffee you’ve been eyeing all day at your next iftar, consider getting your caffeine intake from matcha and green tea instead. I highly recommend these teas over coffee for several reasons:
- Both Matcha and Green Tea contain L-theanine, which means you’ll receive a less jittery, more sustained gradual energy boost, all with no crash, unlike coffee. Which is exactly what we want if we’re going to pray throughout the night. *note this effect is more pronounced in Matcha as it contains more L-theanine than green tea.
- L-theanine can also help improve focus and concentration, which is perfect if you really want to maintain khushoo during salah.
- The acidic properties in coffee can cause heartburn and indigestion when consumed during Ramadan. These same problems don’t exist in matcha and green tea.
- Both teas have very high anti-oxidant properties which can promote better health, protect against disease, and reduce the effects of aging.
- Go jogging, but don’t run!
Try to set aside 30 minutes a day for walking, a light 30 min Yoga session, or any other form of light physical activity to keep your muscles loose and strong, and to improve blood circulation and get that much needed vitamin d we’re all lacking from being indoors all day. The emphasis here is light. This is not the time to consume your energy and prepare for a marathon but getting in light physical activity in your day can go a long way in improving your energy and stamina. *Note: If you do decide to take a walk or go jogging outside, make sure you maintain proper social distancing and safety measures as prescribed by the CDC.
- Go offline
Distractions are our worst enemy, being constantly connected to the world around us via email, social media, and messaging apps, takes away so much time that could be spent on our worship and supplication to Allah. I recommend you start weaning yourself off of technology in the coming days to clear your mind and cleanse it of any unnecessary distractions. There are many ways you can do this. One is dedicating one day where you avoid using any technology for any reason, put your phone on airplane mode, hide it somewhere that is difficult to access, and find other things to do. The goal is to completely avoid any and all uses of technology, no exceptions. By doing so you leave your brain some room to recuperate from all of the constant flow of information and overload it has been taking in from being online constantly. Another option is to use an app that limits your time on your phone and locks down your apps after a certain time or hours spent on the phone. I personally use an app called Appdetox, but there are many other apps of this variety available in the app store and on google play. Following these methods can really enhance your ibadah and leave you feeling more fulfillment in all of your activities.
- The Spanish Call it Siesta, But We Call it Sunnah
Did you know that the Spanish tradition of taking afternoon naps comes directly from the practice of the Prophet PBUH who used to take afternoon naps between dhuhr and asr to maintain his energy levels throughout the day? Now’s the perfect time to incorporate this sunnah into your daily schedule for the final 10 days. If you plan on praying throughout the night it’s absolutely necessary you make sure that your body gets at least 8 hours of sleep throughout the day. Even if you incorporate all of the tips in this post, without the proper amount of sleep you won’t be able to reap the benefits if your body is just too exhausted to function. What better way to ensure you’re getting enough sleep than taking a quick afternoon nap?
This year Ramadan has been hard on many of us. The lack of community gatherings for Taraweeh, the inability to move freely outside, and the natural lethargy that comes from being at home all day has made it difficult for many of us to feel that Ramadan spirit. That’s why we need to strive to make the last 10 days of Ramadan as rewarding as possible. You don’t need to feel tired during Qiyam, Taraweeh, or while reading Qur’an. Follow these 6 tips and you’ll be able to feel a connection with Allah in your Ibadah that you may have never been able to feel before!
Bio: Aayah Khalaf is a highly trained and certified health coach out of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Based in Seattle, WA, she’s also the CEO of BeeNourished, a health coaching initiative dedicated to improving the health and lives of Muslim women and mothers. She helps women transition into healthier lifestyles so that they can look and feel their best while enjoying optimum health. You can follow her @BeeNourished.aya on Instagram and Facebook, visit her website at BeeNourished.com, and contact her via email at Beenourished@beenourished.com!
You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!