Benefits and side effects of fasting

Ramadan, the fasting month is going strong and we’re more than half-way through it. Amidst all the blessings of this month, there are some practices that could transform your life if you carried them on throughout the year. The daily routine is probably the most significant of these.

In our normal routine, we get trapped in a vicious cycle of time shortage. We end up sleeping very late (for reasons as innocent as reading online articles, working on that piece of open source code or just meeting up with friends). This in turn causes us to wake up late, yet without adequate sleep. Then we rush off to work without breakfast. At work, we waste more time on Facebook, writing blog postings (like this one) and procrastinating in lots of ways. Then end up staying late to complete that pending piece of important work. Combine that with feeding cycles more suited to a life on Pluto and you have the perfect recipe for disaster.

All this changes in Ramadan (depending on where you live and how you observe it off course). For me, it usually means not getting enough sleep, feeling tired and dozy at work and a diet change that really affects the stomach. These were the side effects. However, things could be a lot better and I hope that now they will be.

Waking up at 3-4am for the pre-dawn meal (sehr) and the morning prayer means you have ample time to get ready for work, catch up on the news and get to work early. You don’t waste time on extended lunches and to preserve the sanctity of the fast, you try to avoid any unnecessary confrontations and questionable or unhealthy activities.

You eat the second and last meal of the day at sunset and then are asleep by 10pm to allow you to wake up on time the next day. It is a proven fact that late night eating causes the body to more readily convert the intake into fat, as well as putting strain on the digestive system. Having dinner at or just after sunset avoids all that and you can end up a healthier person.

Off course sticking to such a routine, even in Ramadan, requires a tremendous amount of discipline. Discipline that few of us possess. The temptation to catch a wink after the morning meal is especially strong. So is staying up late, having coffee with friends. And for some reason, a lot of people tend to get edgier, short-tempered and impatient while fasting (never quite understood that one).

Despite lacking the above-mentioned discipline, I feel leaner and better after the past few days. I’m amazed as to how people can gain lots of fat in this month, but that’s another story. Having forced myself not to have the morning sleep today, I made it to work by 6:30am through virtually empty roads and had already taken care of the more urgent matters by the time the rest were starting their tasks. I only slept a couple of hours last night, yet am still feeling quite fresh.

My next aim is to continue this routine for the rest of Ramadan. If only it could continue throughout the year.

2 thoughts on “Benefits and side effects of fasting

  1. I get cranky when I’m hungry. It’s natural. Sounds wise to avoid unnecessary confrontations on such afternoons. What do diabetics do about their blood sugar while fasting?

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