If you don’t know anything about fasting, check out my post which gives an overview first. If you have already read my post and are ready to have a go at fasting for the new year, read on!
#1: Set Your Intention
“Actions are but by intentions and every man shall have only that which he intended.”
Before you start making any plans, say bismillah. Know that Allah (swt) has given you the ability to get through. Be kind and use positive language for yourself. Affirmations are so powerful. You can do this!
#2: Set Reasonable Goals
You can’t go from eating three meals a day plus snacks to completely abstaining from food and expect to be successful in the long term. Start small. Maybe fasting for you right now means cutting out one type of food, like sugar. Maybe it means skipping one meal for a week. It might be simply drinking more water.
#3: Don’t Fast to Lose Weight
Weight loss is not the goal of fasting. For some, it might not even be an extra perk! Some people don’t lose weight when they fast, and that’s ok. The benefits of fasting far outweigh any weight loss, and your main goal with fasting should be overhauling your mental, physical and spiritual health. Leave the scales alone.
#4: Have a Plan
You need a solid plan for success. Don’t go into anything blindly and expect results. Trust in Allah (swt), but tie your camel. Ask yourself:
- What is your goal? Why are you fasting?
- Will you dry fast or wet fast?
- What is your eating and abstaining window?
- How long will you fast for?
#5: Fasting is not Starving
Remember that fasting isn’t a form of deprivation. Don’t think about what you won’t be eating and focus on what you will be gaining. When you do eat, opt for healthy, balanced meals. They will help you to feel satisfied and ensure that your body is getting what it needs.
#6: Listen to your Body
If at any point you feel like you can’t go on, stop. Take each hour, each day in stride. It’s ok to start with mini fasts and build up to longer fasts as time goes on.
#7: Don’t Mistake Thirst for Hunger
Thirst signals emitted by the brain are generally weak and similar to hunger signals. As a matter of fact, by the time you feel clearly thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. If you’re fasting but not making up missed fasts for Ramadan, I highly suggest wet fasting, preferably opting for only water. Drinking water during a wet fast means you re-hydrate your body, curb hunger, and helps you eliminate waste more efficiently during your fast.
#8: Celebrate Small Successes
Every day of fasting is an accomplishment. Just one day of 12:12 fasting means you have given your body a much needed rest from processing food, and all of the benefits that come with it. As you succeed, challenge yourself to do a bit more each day.
#9: Don’t Make it Just About Food
When we fast for Ramadan, it’s about something deeper than not eating. Fasting is not just about food. It’s about minding our words, our thoughts, our actions. Let the absence of food be filled by the presence of your inner self.
#10: Make It a Habit
Generally speaking, excess (in everything) is ruining our planet. Consider not only the health, but also the environmental impact of long term fasting. A 12:12, 16:8 or 5:2 fast can be easily be sustained, and it means that you are consuming less, spending less, and having a lower carbon footprint.
“No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath.”