The Holy Hunger Games: A Ramadan rookie's survival guide to fasting

Published June 23rd, 2015 - 12:26 GMT

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Folks, it’s that time of year again and the holy month of Ramadan is upon us! Ever considered fasting? Whether or not you're a Muslim, fasting during Ramadan is a good time to test your patience, moderate your behavior, and rethink your attitudes about eating. In fact, researchers say intermittent fasting could actually help prevent diseases such as cancer heart disease and diabetes.

While the Arab World’s Muslims are most likely veterans when it comes to fasting from sunrise to sunset, first-time fasters are likely to face an array of challenges. Continue reading below »

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Withdrawals: Cutting your vices will be a challenge. Getting out of bed will especially be tough during Ramadan, given that your won’t have your morning cup (or rather, cups) of coffee and cigarette. Try cutting back on caffeine and nicotine before fasting begins to avoid the shakes, headaches, and other symptoms.
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Image 1 of 10:  1 / 10Withdrawals: Cutting your vices will be a challenge. Getting out of bed will especially be tough during Ramadan, given that your won’t have your morning cup (or rather, cups) of coffee and cigarette. Try cutting back on caffeine and nicotine before fasting begins to avoid the shakes, headaches, and other symptoms.

Enlarge
Dehydration: This is of course a given when you decide to abstain from all food and beverage during daylight hours. Another reason why Suhur is essential. Set your alarm to wake up before the sun rises to have a small feast and down a few glasses of water while you’re at it!
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Image 2 of 10:  2 / 10Dehydration: This is of course a given when you decide to abstain from all food and beverage during daylight hours. Another reason why Suhur is essential. Set your alarm to wake up before the sun rises to have a small feast and down a few glasses of water while you’re at it!

Enlarge
Fatigue: Yes, you and everyone else participating in Ramadan fasting will be tired. Without food, water, and caffeine, it is expected your energy levels may be lower than usual, especially during the first few days. But fear not, your body will adjust! Just get through the first week and take it easy.
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Image 3 of 10:  3 / 10Fatigue: Yes, you and everyone else participating in Ramadan fasting will be tired. Without food, water, and caffeine, it is expected your energy levels may be lower than usual, especially during the first few days. But fear not, your body will adjust! Just get through the first week and take it easy.

Enlarge
Bad breath: Stomach acids and an empty tummy are a recipe for bad breath. While it’s said that in Islam, God refers to bad breath during Ramadan as better than the smell of musk, be prepared for having a foul-tasting mouth during the holy month.
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Image 4 of 10:  4 / 10Bad breath: Stomach acids and an empty tummy are a recipe for bad breath. While it’s said that in Islam, God refers to bad breath during Ramadan as better than the smell of musk, be prepared for having a foul-tasting mouth during the holy month.

Enlarge
Cooks' tears or tempers: Chances are high you'll be found crying on the kitchen floor or snapping at the nearest victim, if you're in charge of iftar. There is truly nothing harder than trying to cook after fasting for upwards of twelve hours. Try preparing dinner the night before so that a push of a microwave button is an arm’s length away!
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Image 5 of 10:  5 / 10Cooks' tears or tempers: Chances are high you'll be found crying on the kitchen floor or snapping at the nearest victim, if you're in charge of iftar. There is truly nothing harder than trying to cook after fasting for upwards of twelve hours. Try preparing dinner the night before so that a push of a microwave button is an arm’s length away!

Enlarge
Accidently breaking your fast: Quick, drop the spoon! An accidental taste when you're preparing for iftar isn’t the end of the world, just spit it out as soon as possible! Allah is more concerned with your intentions than your actions at times like these. Thank God!
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Image 6 of 10:  6 / 10Accidently breaking your fast: Quick, drop the spoon! An accidental taste when you're preparing for iftar isn’t the end of the world, just spit it out as soon as possible! Allah is more concerned with your intentions than your actions at times like these. Thank God!

Enlarge
Making up fasting days: If you do unintentionally (or due to valid 'exemptions') break your fast, it’s not the end of the world. Just be sure to make up the days you missed in the days following Ramadan. Women traditionally put in the extra days to balance their days off for time of the month reasons.
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Image 7 of 10:  7 / 10Making up fasting days: If you do unintentionally (or due to valid 'exemptions') break your fast, it’s not the end of the world. Just be sure to make up the days you missed in the days following Ramadan. Women traditionally put in the extra days to balance their days off for time of the month reasons.

Enlarge
Weight change: Weight fluctuation in either direction is normal during your first month-long fast. Stuffing your face with too many sweets after iftar could mean packing on the pounds, but more likely than not your calorie-deficient diet will lead to weight loss.
Reduce

Image 8 of 10:  8 / 10Weight change: Weight fluctuation in either direction is normal during your first month-long fast. Stuffing your face with too many sweets after iftar could mean packing on the pounds, but more likely than not your calorie-deficient diet will lead to weight loss.

Enlarge
Support from locals: Local Muslims will likely be impressed by your attempt at fasting. Use this as motivation to keep it up all month long. Also, seek advice and support for your neighbors, you may even score an invite to iftar.
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Image 9 of 10:  9 / 10Support from locals: Local Muslims will likely be impressed by your attempt at fasting. Use this as motivation to keep it up all month long. Also, seek advice and support for your neighbors, you may even score an invite to iftar.

Enlarge
Concern from non-Muslims: Don’t let well intentioned warnings of illness and fatigue from non-fasters deter you. Fasting is meant to be a sacrifice, and thus is hard work, but unless you have a pre-existing health condition, it is unlikely to harm you in the long run.
Reduce

Image 10 of 10:  10 / 10Concern from non-Muslims: Don’t let well intentioned warnings of illness and fatigue from non-fasters deter you. Fasting is meant to be a sacrifice, and thus is hard work, but unless you have a pre-existing health condition, it is unlikely to harm you in the long run.

Enlarge

1

Withdrawals: Cutting your vices will be a challenge. Getting out of bed will especially be tough during Ramadan, given that your won’t have your morning cup (or rather, cups) of coffee and cigarette. Try cutting back on caffeine and nicotine before fasting begins to avoid the shakes, headaches, and other symptoms.

Image 1 of 10Withdrawals: Cutting your vices will be a challenge. Getting out of bed will especially be tough during Ramadan, given that your won’t have your morning cup (or rather, cups) of coffee and cigarette. Try cutting back on caffeine and nicotine before fasting begins to avoid the shakes, headaches, and other symptoms.

2

Dehydration: This is of course a given when you decide to abstain from all food and beverage during daylight hours. Another reason why Suhur is essential. Set your alarm to wake up before the sun rises to have a small feast and down a few glasses of water while you’re at it!

Image 2 of 10Dehydration: This is of course a given when you decide to abstain from all food and beverage during daylight hours. Another reason why Suhur is essential. Set your alarm to wake up before the sun rises to have a small feast and down a few glasses of water while you’re at it!

3

Fatigue: Yes, you and everyone else participating in Ramadan fasting will be tired. Without food, water, and caffeine, it is expected your energy levels may be lower than usual, especially during the first few days. But fear not, your body will adjust! Just get through the first week and take it easy.

Image 3 of 10Fatigue: Yes, you and everyone else participating in Ramadan fasting will be tired. Without food, water, and caffeine, it is expected your energy levels may be lower than usual, especially during the first few days. But fear not, your body will adjust! Just get through the first week and take it easy.

4

Bad breath: Stomach acids and an empty tummy are a recipe for bad breath. While it’s said that in Islam, God refers to bad breath during Ramadan as better than the smell of musk, be prepared for having a foul-tasting mouth during the holy month.

Image 4 of 10Bad breath: Stomach acids and an empty tummy are a recipe for bad breath. While it’s said that in Islam, God refers to bad breath during Ramadan as better than the smell of musk, be prepared for having a foul-tasting mouth during the holy month.

5

Cooks' tears or tempers: Chances are high you'll be found crying on the kitchen floor or snapping at the nearest victim, if you're in charge of iftar. There is truly nothing harder than trying to cook after fasting for upwards of twelve hours. Try preparing dinner the night before so that a push of a microwave button is an arm’s length away!

Image 5 of 10Cooks' tears or tempers: Chances are high you'll be found crying on the kitchen floor or snapping at the nearest victim, if you're in charge of iftar. There is truly nothing harder than trying to cook after fasting for upwards of twelve hours. Try preparing dinner the night before so that a push of a microwave button is an arm’s length away!

6

Accidently breaking your fast: Quick, drop the spoon! An accidental taste when you're preparing for iftar isn’t the end of the world, just spit it out as soon as possible! Allah is more concerned with your intentions than your actions at times like these. Thank God!

Image 6 of 10Accidently breaking your fast: Quick, drop the spoon! An accidental taste when you're preparing for iftar isn’t the end of the world, just spit it out as soon as possible! Allah is more concerned with your intentions than your actions at times like these. Thank God!

7

Making up fasting days: If you do unintentionally (or due to valid 'exemptions') break your fast, it’s not the end of the world. Just be sure to make up the days you missed in the days following Ramadan. Women traditionally put in the extra days to balance their days off for time of the month reasons.

Image 7 of 10Making up fasting days: If you do unintentionally (or due to valid 'exemptions') break your fast, it’s not the end of the world. Just be sure to make up the days you missed in the days following Ramadan. Women traditionally put in the extra days to balance their days off for time of the month reasons.

8

Weight change: Weight fluctuation in either direction is normal during your first month-long fast. Stuffing your face with too many sweets after iftar could mean packing on the pounds, but more likely than not your calorie-deficient diet will lead to weight loss.

Image 8 of 10Weight change: Weight fluctuation in either direction is normal during your first month-long fast. Stuffing your face with too many sweets after iftar could mean packing on the pounds, but more likely than not your calorie-deficient diet will lead to weight loss.

9

Support from locals: Local Muslims will likely be impressed by your attempt at fasting. Use this as motivation to keep it up all month long. Also, seek advice and support for your neighbors, you may even score an invite to iftar.

Image 9 of 10Support from locals: Local Muslims will likely be impressed by your attempt at fasting. Use this as motivation to keep it up all month long. Also, seek advice and support for your neighbors, you may even score an invite to iftar.

10

Concern from non-Muslims: Don’t let well intentioned warnings of illness and fatigue from non-fasters deter you. Fasting is meant to be a sacrifice, and thus is hard work, but unless you have a pre-existing health condition, it is unlikely to harm you in the long run.

Image 10 of 10Concern from non-Muslims: Don’t let well intentioned warnings of illness and fatigue from non-fasters deter you. Fasting is meant to be a sacrifice, and thus is hard work, but unless you have a pre-existing health condition, it is unlikely to harm you in the long run.

Reduce

The first question every person considering fasting during Ramadan is likely to have is: “How can I survive the hot summer days without food or water?!” Rest assure, you can do it and Al Bawaba is here to help! We have identified some of the biggest challenges of fasting for the first time and provided some helpful tips to succeed, inshallah.

Let the hunger games commence!

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