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need during the day, indicates Jamil. “During
the evening hours, resist the temptation to over
drink tea, coffee, and soda for the same reason
as evening is the only time to hydrate yourself
and prepare for the next day’s fasting,” she says
and when visiting friends or family, ask for
water instead of caffeine loaded beverages.
Water is said to make up over two-thirds of
the human body and Jamil points out that it
is essential for many bodily functions such as
aiding digestion and the transition of waste,
lubricating eyes/joints and maintaining healthy
skin. “Dehydration can cause tiredness,
headaches, nausea and even affect your
everyday decision making,” she says and in fact,
headaches while fasting can be also caused by
caffeine and tobacco-
withdrawal, doing too much in one day, lack
of sleep and hunger. At times, headaches can
occur as the day passes and can worsen by the
end of the day. “To avoid headaches, prepare for
Ramadan by decreasing caffeine and tobacco
consumption slowly, starting a week or two
before Ramadan,” advises Jamil. “Start drinking
caffeine-free teas, coffee, unsweetened juices
and water,” she says and also, don’t forget about
sleep. Prepare for Ramadan by reorganizing
your daily schedule to ensure a good night’s
There are many ways to educate children
about Ramadan and the best way is to set an
example by fasting properly. During Ramadan,
many children also observe the fast and since
they are young and getting accustomed to this
discipline, Jamil suggests that it is important
that they be taught the correct way to do so,
especially when Ramadan occurs during the
hot summer months. “For children who are
fasting, it is paramount he or she is provided a
proper Suhour so they are able to undertake the
fast successfully,” she says. “An ample selection
of slow-digesting fiber-rich foods such as
whole-wheat cereals, fruit and vegetables are an
essential part of the meal.” And avoid forcing
your children to overeat, since this may cause
indigestion and bloating.
For Iftar, Jamil suggests to avoid giving children
excessive fried and spicy foods as these may
increase gastric acidity. “Also avoid giving
children who are fasting carbonated drinks
during Iftar as these can produce gas and cause
discomfort,” she says. “Actually, the best way
for kids to get all of the energy and protein they
need is to include a variety of protein sources
in meals and snacks while not leaving behind
the addition of a variety of colored foods.” Add
more colors in children’s meals to make them
look attractive and appealing by being fun and
creative. And while it is easier to have children
eat the same meals as the adults whilst breaking
the fast, Jamil indicates that it is more beneficial
for parents to embark on proper meal planning
in advance in order to ensure fasting children
eat healthy and nutritious food.
Tips for Children fasting:
Get your child accustomed to eating smaller meals throughout
the day before Ramadan to help them control their temptation
to eat large meals.
Closer to Ramadan, ease children off the number of meals a day so that
their mind, body and appetite are all in tune for the upcoming fasting
Gradually cut down on their consumption of salt and sugar as these
increase thirst and cravings. Do not cut back on these abruptly as it could
lead to headaches, stomach aches and a general feeling of discomfort.
Be gradual in the way you initiate them into the month of fasting. In the
beginning, children below 10 can be encouraged to fast until 10am. Then
the period of fasting can be extended to the time of the noon prayer, and
then until the time of the evening prayer.
Keep children well hydrated during non-fasting hours by giving them
plenty of fluids. This is very important.
July/Aug 2013