A guide for fasting during Ramadan

In preparation for Ramadan later this month, Lecturer, FdSc Nursing Associate Safina Bibi provides tips to help students and staff to keep healthy and well while fasting.

Safina Bibi
Lecturer, FdSc Nursing Associate

About Ramadan

The month of Ramadan this year is expected to start on Saturday 2 April or Sunday 3 April, subject to sighting of the moon. Muslims follow the lunar calendar which means these dates can vary.

This month is particularly important for Muslims across the world as it is a holy month of religious reflection and fasting. This spiritual month encourages engagement in good deeds, from acts of charity to practising forgiveness and showing kindness.

The month also completes one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Those exempt from fasting are children, the elderly, the sick or people with long-term health conditions such as diabetes, those travelling long distances, and women who are menstruating, pregnant or breastfeeding.

Those fasting cannot eat during daylight hours (between dawn and sunset), which means a typical day without food and water will be around 14 hours. Managing work and academic commitments while fasting can be a challenge.

If you’re fasting this year, here are some top tips to support staff and students during academic studies to keep healthy and well.

Let others know

Observing Ramadan may not be visible while being taught online or even on campus, so make it easy – let your colleagues know you are observing Ramadan as this may help to discuss any adjustments required. Staff and students not observing Ramadan should be mindful of others who are fasting.

Take regular breaks

Fasting can affect people in different ways; for example, some people may be quieter or seem tired at times. Factor in regular breaks during online learning and include a stretch or even mindfulness to combat any tiredness. Make use of the chat function during meetings if you feel less inclined to participate in conversations verbally.

If you are on campus, there are dedicated prayer/contemplation rooms on site for you to use during break and lunchtimes.

Stick to a routine

Try to be disciplined about your eating and sleeping habits. Hunger can make our bodies crave things that may not necessarily be good for our bodies when it is time to eat and drink again. The British Nutrition Foundation has guidance to ‘A Healthy Ramadan’, which is useful and suggests a good balanced meal at iftaar (opening of fast) to provide you with key nutrients that the body needs.

This month may also see you making adjustments to your sleep patterns to accommodate for night prayers alongside waking up for suhur (pre-dawn meal). There is such a short window between iftaar and suhur which may impact on how alert you feel in the morning. One tip is to factor in a day nap or period of rest after online learning.

Drink plenty of water

Drinks lots of water throughout the period when you are not fasting to keep hydrated, to avoid headaches and help with tiredness. I cannot stress the importance of this enough.

Keep active

Exercise – yes that is correct! Feeling tired during Ramadan is inevitable due to lack of water and food intake. Therefore, plan exercise activities accordingly. Light exercise, like a walk, gardening or cycling, can all help with increasing blood circulation and improve mental wellbeing.

While this is not a comprehensive list of all the things you can do to keep well during Ramadan, just remember BCU has support systems in place to support and guide you during this month.

Students can visit BCU’s Student Support iCity page for healthcare, mental health and wellbeing, disability, and faith and spiritual support.

From me to you, I hope you all have a blessed period of self-reflection and fasting during Ramadan.

This information was put together by Lecturer Foundation Degree Science (FdSc) Nursing Associate (Higher Apprenticeship) Safina Bibi and should not be interpreted as official University policy.