We’re over halfway through, but Ramadan Kareem! For Muslims around the world, Ramadan is the holy month in the Islamic calendar of fasting and religious reflection and focus. You may not think it at first, but generally speaking, it’s something that is looked forward to every year. You fast from sun-up to sun-down for 30 days. Back in the day, before everyone moved, it was fun for me to see friends on the weekend at the mosque to break our fast together and catch up. Now that I’m constantly around good food and fewer fellow fasters (alliteration originally an accident), things are a little different. I’ve never really written about it in depth, and I thought it would be cool to take you through an average day of Carmen, fasting at Food52 – as I sit on the train home at 9:30pm. The following is somewhat of a combo of days to show different details of my last week or so. Welcome welcome…
Did my alarm go off…? I’m certain that I turned it on for 3. Was I so out of it that I turned it off without remembering? Good thing my body figured it out (I totally missed it once). Ok, time to eat!
Putting together suhur/sehri/sari, (depending on your language of choice) or the meal before the fast starts. Several cups of water? Check. Fiber, protein? Check! You want to be able to make it through the day, no simple carbs to get used up before the morning ends. I needed some vegetables in my life, so I made a fun salad.
Spinach, carrots, hard-boiled eggs, cheddar, sunflower seeds, blueberries, sautéed zucchini. Hahaha that’s weird right? It worked out. When I’m eating that early in the morning, I just tend to eat whatever I put in front of myself/whatever I think is a good idea at the time. Other go-tos include oatmeal and omelets.
Back to bed. If you’re wondering why I’m eating so soon before sunrise it’s because the time we go by is kinda like the last moment before the sun starts its ascension to the horizon. So it’s well dark when I’m done.
Get woken up by full bladder, run to bathroom.
Wake up again for work. This part is interesting because my body gets confused as to why there’s food in the belly so early. Must use train nap as incentive to leave bed.
Get to work. Do not pass go, do not collect $2.00 coffee or pastry.
Doing okay, keeping busy with work, sneakily packing away free-for-all food in ziplocs or tupperwares 😉 our test kitchen manager might ask if I want to pack something away before he brings it to the team kitchen.
Power through the slump of the day and the last few hours of work, fantasize about dinner choices, consider removing fasting-breath by brushing teeth but don’t.
Leave work (#startuplife), stop at Chipotle/halal food cart in anticipation for breaking my fast on the train (the time I went for Chipotle was satisfactory, but the lamb gyro tonight was somehow the best one I’d ever had ever).
Wade through backpack for the dates I packed in the morning to break my fast with (traditional), and the edible goods packed/collected throughout the day. Time to eat!
Goodies for home: bbq chicken, lone blueberry scone, squished galette slices, chocolate truffles. These all sound great when you’re fasting, but as soon as you begin to eat, you start reconsidering the options (example: it’s been 48 hours and I’ve yet to try the truffles).
This day was rosemary shortbread, shortcake + berries, a jar of goat cheese caramel, and mini brownie bites.
Go to bed and do it all again!
After the first week I’d say Ramadan goes by pretty quickly. Before you know it, you’re on the last week and making all efforts to “cash in”, as it were, on all the extra blessings of the month before it’s gone for a year. Every (Gregorian calendar) year, Ramadan moves up a few days, with the rest of the Islamic calendar, which is lunar. This also means we’re never 100% sure of the day Ramadan starts or ends until a night or two beforehand. For me, Ramadan is not only an opportunity to reflect spiritually, but also to evaluate physically what is going into my body on a daily basis, when it’s getting there, and how. At least for a few days after Ramadan, I am far more conscious of my eating habits and I become a more mindful eater, and, hopefully, person in general.
If you’re wondering if people lose weight during Ramadan, the answer is…mostly not. If you’re not paying attention, you could easily overeat and gain weight, especially in the evening when it’s time to break the fast and you want to eat everything in sight (see-food diet). Ever heard that it’s more healthy to eat six small meals a day rather than three big meals? This concept applies here: if you’re only eating twice a day, your body will hold on to anything it can to help conserve energy, so the metabolism slows down. This also makes it harder to lose weight. But with some attention and diligence, you can continue healthy eating habits during Ramadan.
This year has been a first in many ways, from working, to being in the hot city and more, but it’s been very exciting and eye-opening. Hope you learned a little something about Ramadan/me/both; and feel free to leave a comment about your own fasting/abstaining experience or with a burning question. Until next time!