How to stay hydrated this Ramadan
With many breaking their fast with feast-like meals featuring a plethora of sweet drinks on the table, water is often forgotten about (until the last few minutes before the fast begins which is when a lot of people try to chug a litre of water in two minutes – and I used to be one of them).
Not drinking enough water when we can makes fasting not only more difficult, but can actually be dangerous because of the serious health risks that come with dehydration.
When not drinking enough water becomes a pattern during long hours of fasting, the effect becomes cumulative, making the symptoms of dehydration stronger and more perilous.
Thankfully, dehydration during Ramadan is easy to combat just by making simple tweaks in your iftar routine:
1. Plan your water intake timings (and actually stick to it)
When fasting, one of the only things we can think about is water but for some reason when it’s time to break our fasts, making sure we’re getting enough of it falls off the radar on our priority list. To combat this, all you really need to do is to plan.
Think about what’s easiest for you to measure your water intake – for example if you prefer to drink water out of a glass, aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses throughout the evening. If you prefer a bottle, work on the measurements from the size.
The best thing to do is to try to drink one or two cups of water with dates before having a starter. Eat a bit, pray Maghreb for the food and water to settle, then have another cup that you drink with your meal.
Then during the evening, divide your water intake. During suhur time, divide water gradually instead of chugging a large amount in one go.
2. Avoid salt sugary drinks
Usually, when people break their fasts with processed sugary drinks like Ribena, Vimto to Tang and other fizzy drinks, they feel like their thirst is being quenched and are temporarily given energy because of a spike in their blood sugar. Alas, the spike eventually leads to a crash and also a huge amount of dehydration. When there's extra sugar in your body, your body tries to get rid of it through urination.
Instead, drink lots of water and if you want, freshly squeezed juice.
One of my favourite things to do is to infuse water with mint, fruit or lemon for that extra bit of flavour.
Too much salt can also be just as bad – usually we have it lurking around all sorts of food (usually, when you check the ingredients in ready made stock, the first one is salt). The best thing to do is to minimise the amount of processed food eaten, along with cutting down on the amount of salt in cooking. If you want to switch to a healthier type of salt, try either Celtic salt or Himalayan salt.
3. Avoid caffeine
Trust me, I’m forcing myself to add this. There’s nothing more than a nice Americano after iftar, it’s one of the worst things to do. Instead of drinking tea or coffee if you’re craving a hot drink, have a caffeine free infusion instead. Or maybe a lower caffeine and all-round healthier alternatives would be green tea and white tea leaves. If you’re fasting in the summer, things get easier because your body would naturally be craving colder drinks – listen to it.
4. Supercharge your hydration with fruit
Fruits are usually not only high in water (cucumbers are 96 percent water and watermelons are 92 percent water), but they’re also high in fibre which will help you stay full and have minerals that your body needs. Do a quick search on your favourite fruits and you will most likely be surprised at how much water they contain.
5. Chia water
Chia seeds are a staple for most of us vegans – they’re high in calcium, protein and fibre. They’re also packed with antioxidants and absorb water, keeping you more hydrated. Because chia seeds tend to expand when hydrated, chia water has a thicker consistency so whilst getting used to it, it’s best to drink it through a straw.
All you need to do is to whisk one tablespoon of chia seeds into half a litre of water (play around with the ratio to your liking if you want) and leave it for 15 minutes for the chia seeds to turn the water into a gel-like consistency. When I first started making chia water, I used to make it with mint infused water to make it more flavoursome. Feel free to be as creative as you want.
Remember, Ramadan is about self-betterment in all aspects of your life. Set your intention and do your best.