Healthy Eating Tips To Take From Ramadan

Many Muslims are fasting during this month of Ramadan. Habiba Nosheen spent the evening at a local mosque in Washington, D.C., and has some healthy eating tips for those who are fasting during the long summer months.

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Many Muslims around the world celebrate Ramadan by fasting, or abstaining from food and water from dawn until sunset. Some say this Ramadan has been the toughest in decades because the Muslim calendar is based on the lunar calendar, and the changing cycle has pushed Ramadan to the summer.

Fasting during long, hot days isn't easy. Habiba Nosheen spent an evening at the local mosque in Washington, D.C. to find out how people have been coping.

HABIBA NOSHEEN: Nadira Reece(ph) is a Muslim nurse who attends the Muhammad Masjid Mosque in D.C. and says she misses the shorter days of fasting.

Ms. NADIRA REECE (Nurse): Well, you're fasting a whole lot longer.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NOSHEEN: Do you remember 12 years ago when the fast was in winter?

Ms. REECE: Oh, yes. You know, it's like a blink of an eye type of a thing. You know, and oh yes, that's so nice. We like that, right? We like that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NOSHEEN: Seventy-one-year-old Saleen Mamar(ph) has been fasting for the last 40 years. He says he's certainly felt the longer days this Ramadan.

Mr. SALEEN MAMAR: And see, at this time we'd be through eating. You know, because it would get dark earlier, you know.

NOSHEEN: The fast begins before sunrise and ends at sunset. That's why Imam Yousef Saleen(ph) says the summer fast is so tough.

Mr. YOUSEF SALEEN (Imam): Yeah, this time of year we're five-to-five - 12; we're fasting about 15 hours, 15 hours. And if you live long enough, you will fast in all the seasons.

NOSHEEN: After a 15-hour day without food or water, the congregation finally opens the fast with a communal meal. Richardeen Banks(ph) explains what's on the menu for the evening.

Ms. RICHARDEEN BANKS: Today, we have what looks like salad, some greens, some cabbage, baked chicken, rice.

NOSHEEN: There are some tips to healthy fasting in the summer months. Hooda Daj(ph) is a Muslim educator and a writer for about.com. She says avoid binging when you break your fast. Also, remember to take it easy on the candy and the chocolates. Rather, use juices and fruits to break your fast. This will help to gradually bring up your blood sugar. Keep yourself hydrated - drink at least eight glasses of water at night. And despite the temptation, avoid the fried and the spicy food as they may cause heartburn. And try light exercise of about 15 to 20 minutes of walking in the evening.

These tips may come in handy. Lunar calendar puts Ramadan in the summer months for the next decade.

For NPR News, I'm Habiba Nosheen in Washington.

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