24th June 2015
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the month which was ordained for Muslims to fast from dawn to sunset which is nearly 19 hours this year. This means that they refrain from food, drink, sex relations, smoking cigarettes, backbiting and other immoral acts. Muslims do not retreat from their daily routine during the month but are encouraged to continue life as normal.
Is fasting damaging to health?
Scientists have found that short periods of fasting, if properly controlled, can have a number of health benefits, as well as potentially helping overweight people. According to the British Journal for General Practice, there are also some benefits to fasting. Dr Faraz Mughal published a paper stating that there are several physical benefits to Ramadan, such as; fasting reduces low-density lipoprotein and cholesterol levels, improves weight and glycaemic control. It could also regenerate the entire immune system by ‘flipping a regenerative switch’ according to a new study. Smoking is prohibited, so Ramadan is an opportunity to promote smoking cessation. He explains that, there is little harm with intermittent dehydration experienced in Ramadan and substantial fluid intake outside the fasting hours will prevents common problems such as headache, constipation, and lethargy. http://intl.bjgp.org/content/64/624/356
What facts would help Health Visitors while working with parents in Ramadan?
Fasting is not merely a physical ritual, it is largely a time for reflection and spiritual recharging, a time to understand how those less privileged feel and it also encourage compassion, gentleness and charity. Parents can gain rewards for their parenting by increasing their generosity, patience and tenderness to their children, especially when they approach fasting with a positive mind set and think of the meaning of Ramadan. It is a time to think positively and keep their patience, to be kinder, caring and more responsive to their children. It’s also a time to think of others who are less fortunate and to give charity, parents could start this by encouraging their children to donate their old toys and clothes to a charity.
A balanced diet, as well as healthy cooking methods, are encouraged. Include foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates which will help release energy slowly during the long hours of fasting. Also, protein, fruits or vegetables, fibre-rich foods which digested slowly such as bran, cereals, whole wheat and drink plenty of water. Some gentle exercise such as walking helps to maintain good physical health. Women who are pregnant or nursing their child can fast if they feel able to do so, however they may wish to discuss this and seek medical advice.
Parents sometimes overburden themselves with tasks and become overtired during Ramadan. Health Visitors can support them to plan their day and decide on which tasks are important. Get them to prioritise what tasks they need to achieve first, how much time they need to allocate to these tasks and what can be postponed until after Ramadan.
A good tip would be to encourage parents to divide their day into sections which can be determined by: the school run, a child’s nap, shopping or cooking. Suggest to them to make a chart of their day based on their responsibilities and decide the best time to achieve each. It is important to get sufficient sleep and think about how to modify sleep patterns to catch up on missing sleep. A power nap, even if only for 15-20 minutes will help to recharge the batteries.
Remaining patient can be difficult at the best of times, however if parents are more aware of their thoughts and feelings, they can modify their behaviour, this will enable them to make positive changes to their parenting. Taking control of one’s emotions and not getting annoyed with children, is a good tool to practice in Ramadan with the intention that it will become a habit outside Ramadan.
For more information about working with Muslim families, please contact Approachable Parenting or down load our weekly ‘Parenting Hour’ (UnityFM 93.5) broadcast from our website www.approachableparenting.org.uk
Kathleen Roche-Nagi, Approachable Parenting