Chilling out through a scorching Holy Month: how to have an ice-ice-Ramadan!

Published July 18th, 2012 - 19:21 GMT

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Drink water slowly without gulping at Ramadan's Suhur time
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Image 1 of 12: H20 alert: less is more: Not a solution for the fasting hours, but there are ways to exploit the aqua-elixir. Don’t drink too much at suhur (pre-fast) since the kidneys expel excess liquid, leaving you high & dry peak-fast. Avoid the temptation to drink ice-water to break-fast as blood vessels constrict, slowing down vital flow to aid digestion.

Ramadan's herbal drinks: Erq sous; Karkadeh; Kharoub;Tamer hindi
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Image 1 of 12: Healthy-herbal thirst-quenchers: Refreshing drinks are a good start to surviving this scorching holy month, & fortunately Ramadan comes complete with the goods. These 4 Ramadan traditional drinks make excellent coolers, complete with digestive properties: Erq sous (liquorice root); Karkadeh (hibiscus); Kharoub (carob) & Tamer hindi (tamarind).

Jallab and Qamar il din Ramadan's sweet drinks
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Image 1 of 12: Fruity, festive & fresh: Ramadan regulars can find the usual suspects on the drinks menu. Jallab is a popular Ramadan drink from dates, grapes, Mawarid (rose water) & sugar a'plenty. Qamar-il-din is a thick sweet treat from dried pressed apricots. This nutritious saccharine pair are ideal for replenishing the liquids & sugars lost by the body.

Watermelons are a good choice for Summer Ramadan
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Image 1 of 12: It's not hard to see why a fruit that incorporates 'water' into its name would also be a sensible option for those Ramadan summer evenings. Watermelons are rich in water and together with other summer seasonal fruits like fluid-filled grapes and plums should be indulged in to keep dehydration at bay.

Smoking Ramadan: An Arab smoking a hookah pipe in a sheesha cafe
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Image 1 of 12: A sizzling or smoking hot Ramadan is a good occasion to quit smoking since smoking habits induce thirst and a dry throat. Ramadan is an added struggle for smokers who must refrain from smoking as part of the fast.

Thirsty Ramadan: Spicey foods and salty foods a no-no
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Image 1 of 12: Thirsty Ramadan? Keep it lower on the spice 'n' salt. You might want to take the edge of your iftars and suhur's by cutting down on salt & spice. Where's the fun in that? Well, avoiding excess salt & spicy foods means a less urgent thirst during the fast. It’s the spices & salt that are main culprits for an increase in the body's need for water.

Coffee during hot Ramadans a no-no
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Image 1 of 12: Avoid caffeine, and (needless to say in the Islamic holy month) alcohol as both substances can promote dehydration. Coffee & tea with their diuretic property make you lose more water through urination. Taking tea & coffee with food can decrease the amount of iron that you absorb; so not a wise choice when you need to fight the sun & hunger combo.

Showers in Iraq can be cooling during Ramadan days
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Image 1 of 12: Water water everywhere and not a drop to spare...Refresh your fast with the cooling effect of (undrunk) water. Fill basins, dip your feet. Soak towels or bandannas, cover shoulders or head. Bathe, shower, or spray cold water from a spritz bottle during your fast. Not a call to waste water, especially in the Mideast where there is a shortage.

Rich meat-heavy meals won't combat heat this Ramadan
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Image 1 of 12: You can feast when its Eid! Don't binge out on heavy food. While hard to avoid the urge to eat & keep eating once you've broken fast, large meals are counter-productive to staying cool in a hot Ramadan. Protein-rich meals as meat increase the body's heat to keep you warm. Curbing meat seems harsh for Iftar. But, now is the time to fast not feast!

Fattoush is a good way to cool off at Ramadan
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Image 1 of 12: Keep it fresh with lots of salads and moisture-lush greens. Raw and uncooked veg will keep you cool. There's a reason Ramadan -- whatever the season - is always abundant in salads. These use raw vegetables rich in water like radishes (an ingredient found in traditionally Ramadan popular salad - the Lebanese Fattoush).

Working-out or exercising in a hot Ramadan risks heat-exhaustion
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Image 1 of 12: Beware of heat (as well as hunger) -exhaustion. Sounds like common sense, but don't work-out or physically exert yourself beyond what's necessary. While part of the spirit of Ramadan involves going about your day as usual so as to not cheat the fast, heavy exercise or outdoor work in heat & humidity will incur loss in bodily fluids through sweat.

Soups, not 'sweets' a great way to stay hydrated in hot Ramadan.
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Image 1 of 12: Stay in the soup! Up your intake of soups, but avoid sweets as the sugar (like salt) makes you thirsty. While it's an easy season to come by soups -- Ramadan tradition has soup on the Iftar menu - sweets are easy to fall foul of too. Desserts are par for the course. Soup may seem less appealing in mid-summer, but, full of liquid, some come cold.

If you're wondering how you're going to stay cool through a sizzling peak summer Middle East Ramadan, set to start this week, avert your eyes from the sun, and cast them over this guide to chilling out in Ramadan 2012 and keeping it a nice-ice Ramadan! The media and weather experts have billed this Ramadan the hottest in 33 years, which has got people sweating with apprehension at the thought of fasting lengthy summer days in the Arab world. But that won't put off the region's steadfast Muslims from embraching their holy month.

Some Gulf states have issued a health warning to the masses who will be fasting through these hot times as temperatures could scrape 50 degrees Celsius. The holy month is predicted - for only the third time since the 1970s -  to fall during the peak hottest months of the year. Reports forecast Ramadan will witness the highest temperatures in countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain. Health ministries are launching awareness campaigns of the risk of suffering from dehydration and heat exhaustion, particularly geared at laborers who spend a bulk of time outdoors under the sun. 

Given our Middle East playing field known for its hot Summers, the need to search for new or indeed age-old methods to ease the hardship of fasting for Muslims is imperative. 
 
Al Bawaba's tips to making it a more 'chill' Ramadan include turning preconceptions on their head and offering up strategies to lessen the discomfort that comes from the longer fast on those summer days.  If you think water is the answer (after break of fast) think again. But there are ways to exploit water that might not have occured to you, short of consuming the coveted stuff of desert mirages.  

Find out or confirm your knowledge of Ramadan's very own cooler drinks that come complete with health and thirst-quenching benefits.

It turns out that some of the most traditional customs associated with Ramadan fares and treats include tried and tested methods of keeping cool, healthy and hydrated. Muslims from the region historically have passed down recipes and habits that offer relief from thirst and intense native sun.
 

So keep it holy while cool, for all you fasting Muslims, and Happy Ramadan!

 

Share your thoughts on fasting Ramadan 2012  - any other tips for staying cool and focused this hot hot Ramadan?

 

 

 

 

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