Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Health 101: Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle During Fasting Month

When you are fasting, you can be so easily tempted by the array of food offered by the makeshift stalls and bazaars and even the usual food stalls serve up extra variety of food to cater to the muslim people who are fasting. When I have the photos later, you will know what I mean when I say a variety of food.

But they're not exactly all healthy and even though during this period I can 'cheat' a little by consuming food that I don't usually consume during the non fasting period such as ice cream, I try not to overdo it. While other people lose at least 1kg, I can gain at least 1 kg..haha. So better not take the risk. So much so I told my mother that during this year's Hari Raya period, I will break my previous tradition of only consuming food cooked with coconut milk in the first two days of Hari Raya. In other words, I will NOT consume any food with coconut milk which are basically most of the traditional malay dishes served during these period. I've stopped consuming coconut milk and eating home cooked food that are cooked with low fat evaporated milk instead for the last 3 to 4 years. I've mentioned this before in previous posts the reasons why I avoid some food.

This time round, I don't want to take the risk of gaining weight especially after putting in much effort to fast during this one month.

So how DO you maintain a healthy lifestyle during the fasting month?

Well, one tip is to not over consume during the break fast period. If you eat a bit more than usual because you have quite a lot to finish, then during sahur or the pre dawn meal, you eat lesser. That's what I do too. I also try to not consume rice every day. While pre dawn meals are very important to give some energy during the day, you will still feel hungry with the stomach grumblings so if you think by eating a lot will give you even more energy, it's not really true. Fasting requires willpower...the willingness to get past the food cravings, ignoring the rumblings which usually come and go till you don't really notice the hunger pangs disappear.

Fasting also doesn't mean you should stop working out or not have any physical exercise at all. This is very important. For me I am on a gym break (YAY!!) and I have two more weeks to go before I start embarking on it again. Hopefully fingers cross, I see some positive results..haha. I still walk after my work for about twenty minutes and more when I'm prowling the supermarket shopping for groceries. There are also people who continue to work out after their break fast which is also good.

Do I notice any results? Well, my skirt doesn't feel so tight and I didn't struggle that much with this stupid brown skirt which I always used to cringe because it can take almost 10 minutes to get it past my hips..haha. My tummy looks slimmer as in I look like I  have a slimmer silhouette and also slimmer thighs. They can just be a figment of my imagination but surely after fasting for almost one month, there will be some visible results, no?

So yah, if you are a Muslim and can't wait for Hari Raya, I believe we should carry on consuming less food after the fasting month. It's a good start. We actually can do it. If we can abstain from eating, we can slowly learn to abstain from eating less healthier food or at least learn to make alternatives from using traditional ingredients such as coconut milk and also to cut down on the oil when cooking. Very often I see malay dishes are 'swimming' in oil derived from cooking oil and from coconut milk. 

Of course we can enjoy good food and good food doesn't always mean healthier but best thing to do is to eat in moderation. If you simply can't totally cut out, at least aim to eat lesser of such food or treat it as 'luxuries' where you only eat once every few months or so.

Just a few tips I share with you including my own personal experience with fasting and breaking fast. Hope it helps. Meanwhile, happy shopping for your Raya preparations!

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