As this week comes to a close, so does Ramadan, the holiest month of the year for Muslims. For thirty days, Muslims around the world refrained from eating from sunrise to sunset. After sunset, we gathered to break our fast. There’s no better time than Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of this period, for both Muslims and non-Muslims to reflect on our relationships with God, our bodies, the community around us—and the best foods to eat during Ramadan.
Last Ramadan, Halima Hassan, a student from Columbus, Ohio, started regularly posting her meals with the hashtag #VeganRamadan, prompting conversation about how vegans and non-vegans alike participate in fasting and healthy eating, while working and living their lives. This year, I gave it a try.
In the process, I learned that everything is a daily practice of discipline. After completing my first #VeganRamadan, my skin looks better than ever and I’ve been able to work out for longer. I’m more energetic and focused. And I know now that if I want to get work done, if I want to be fit for a marathon, or if I ever want to write a book, I need to take it day by day.
As being busy as hell during the day and meal prepping are truly universal Girlboss concerns, I sought the advice of a few fellow Muslims to see what full-time-friendly foods they relied on, before and after sunrise. Here’s how four women made it work.
Halima Hassan, the creator of the hashtag, says “Oatmeal = vital” for slow-release energy and all the good stuff you need throughout the day. She also breaks her fast with the full-time worker’s bestie: a soup and salad combo, which is easy on the stomach. Hassan recommends vitamins as well: Iron supplements and fish oil get her through.
Azmia Magane also knows all about maintaining energy levels throughout the workweek. The full-time social worker and freelance writer carries water and nutritious dates with her, in case she needs to break fast while stuck at the office. For Muslims, she highly recommends explaining Ramadan to your boss and she saves vacation time so she can take some days off work during that period, if she needs them. Magane has a Moroccan background, so energizing chickpeas and lentils are her preferred meat substitute.
Receptionist Hana Qwfan says “one of the best things I do for suhoor [the breakfast or meal before you begin fasting for the day] is make a smoothie or bowl with bananas, açaí, a bunch of frozen fruit, and protein powder.” She also does her best to avoid fried foods when she breaks her fast, instead sticking to complex carbs, protein, and nutrients. And, naturally, drinking lots of water while the sun is down is critical.
For Kandeel Imran, a Toronto-based academic, prepping beforehand and five-minute power naps in her chair are her strategies to get through the day. She also recommends meal prepping. “In terms of food, I do three days preps of proteins and vegetables—lentils, chickpeas, tofu, edamame, and roasted vegetables in the oven,” she says.