The holy month of Ramadan is almost here- and whole of the Muslim ummah is preparing, one way or the others. While some prefer restocking and organizing the kitchen, other aim for the re-organization and cleansing of the soul, getting all set for the months of blessing.

No matter what your priorities are, it is essential never to overlook the most important one- your health! You have to be healthy in order to work in the kitchen, preparing scrumptious Suhoor and Iftar for the family (it is, no doubt one of the major attractions of Ramadan) and at the same time, you have to look after your health, to be able to pray, and get the most out of this month of blessings.
The foremost issue is: being inactive during fast. Since the days are long during this season (almost 15 hours), the body is soon deprived of all the reservoirs of energy. The result is- you get inactive!
This is exactly where all the trouble beings- you get cranky, you cannot focus, you try to put aside as much work as possible, you feel lazy and spend most of the day sleeping- practically wasting all the time, that you could have utilized praying, or doing anything good, adding to the list of your good deeds. This way, majority of the plans made for this month  just go down the drain, and it does not even end here- at iftar time, you consume more than what you need, ending up being more sluggish and lethargic than ever! Now the question is: can I avoid all of this? Well, luckily, you can!
The key is to take care of your health, as the legend goes: you are what you eat.
I have collected a few simple guidelines, which are sure to prove beneficial, in making your Ramadan more active, especially in the Middle Eastern region, where the days are long, temperatures are high and weather is as humid as it can be- making things even tougher.
 Just try to follow these, and you will notice the difference for yourself:

Stay Hydrated

The first one is pretty obvious- stay hydrated! As the temperature is very high, and humidity also adds to the problems, you HAVE to maintain water content in your body. Drink as much water as possible, after iftar. Usually, we prefer drinking loads of water at Suhoor time, which is not of much use. The key is to drink at the right time, and that is between iftar and suhoor timings, and let your body consume it in the proper manner.  In addition to drinking water, also add to your water intake by eating hydrated food- including cucumber, tomatoes (in the form of salad) and watermelon.

Avoid Caffeinated Drinks

Avoid caffeinated drinks, including tea, coffee and soft drinks- for they do not cause an increase their sugar intake, but high amounts of caffeine may also cause an increase in urination, and thus, dehydration.

Do not Eat More- Eat Healthy

There is a whole world of difference between the two! At suhoor, consumer wholesome meal, to provide energy that lasts the whole day. Avoid spicy and oily food, they would only add to the problem. Instead, go for fruits and vegetables, beans, chickpeas and lentils. Also, addition of low-fat dairy products will provide you long-lasting source of energy- you can also try labneh or laban, as they are tasty and healthy at the same time.

Consume Yogurt

Keeping in view the high temperature during day time, it is recommended that you consume a reasonable portion of yogurt in suhoor- it is sure to keep you from getting thirsty during day time. Tried and tested- this works every single time, and makes fasting much easier during summer.

Maintain Balance at Iftar

At the iftar time, again, stay balanced. Start with dates, as they provide an excellent source of fiber, and include vegetables, fruits, whole grains and chicken/ fish, to get all the required nutrients. Do not, and I repeat, do not fall for the fried item or high sugar/ fat content! They are the one’s responsible for the major trouble- and also add to the weight gain. Instead, opt for the baked options- they are trending these days for a good reason. While being healthy, they are also low on fats, as against the fried ones, and provide you with almost the same taste that you are looking for.

Eat in Small Portions 

If you cannot complete your meal at iftar time, as most of the people feel full quickly, better wait for a few minutes, allowing your stomach to digest slowly and properly. Continuing with the iftar after magrib prayer also tends to do the trick, helping with the digestion as well as appropriate intake.
Sweets and desserts are irresistible during Ramadan- so instead of depriving yourself, you can minimize the harm by consuming them properly. First, do not consume them at iftar time- it will increase the size of your stomach and will also delay digestion. Wait for 2-3 hours before eating them. Secondly- take small portions. If it is made at home, use small bowls for presenting, and if bought from the markets, cut it in small portions to ensure less consumption.

Stay Physically Active 

Also, do not ignore the importance of physical activity during Ramadan. Going for a walk after 2-3 hours of iftar- it will help you in proper digestion, and thus will prepare you for the next active day.
No matter how small, every effort made in the right direction will count. Starting taking small steps today, towards a healthy lifestyle, and you will start noticing the difference very soon. Try to make this Ramadan as productive as possible, by staying active, and doing more good to your body than harm. These minor changes and adjustments will not only make you feel better about yourself, but will also allow you to utilize all the precious time, gathering as many blessings as possible, that is usually spent sleeping, or complaining about how hungry/ thirsty/ exhausted/ sluggish you are.
Stay healthy, stay active, stay blessed.
Ramadan Kareem everyone. Hope you have a blessed one.

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