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Misconceptions of fasting

What I discovered after a day of fasting.

Yonas Ngaturi
Yonas Ngaturi

Published: 9 July 2015, 12:00 AM

Seeing my Muslim friends fast during Ramadan over numerous years, I was curious about how it feels like to fast. This year, I decided to embark on a nine hour fast to satiate my curiousity.

As I munched down my breakfast at 9am, there were plenty of thoughts running through my head: Will I be really tempted by food? Will the day’s activities tire me out?

These questions were answered throughout the day, and it changed my perspective about fasting. Here are some things I discovered about fasting in Ramadan.

1. Hunger does not affect you the most

The hunger, which I expected, kicked in when lunchtime approached. I kept myself occupied by watching YouTube videos and oddly, the hunger subsided.

It was as if my body got used to the feeling of hunger, and was no longer affected by it.

I did not feel tempted when I saw photos of food on my social media feed, or when I caught whiffs of food from the pantry. I even joined my friends at the pantry table as they had their lunch.

 

It looks really good, but not good enough to tempt me.
Photo credit: Twitter.com/foodporntho

 

But at 3pm, another feeling started to affect me: lethargy. Working on an empty stomach caused my energy levels to dip, and I felt really sleepy. From then, I started to devise ways to keep myself awake and alert.

2. Physical activities energise you instead

You would think that physical activities would wear you down while fasting, but it is quite the opposite. It made me less lethargic due to the movement of my limbs and improved blood circulation.

 

We played chapteh that day, and I felt better.

 

In fact, it is good to keep yourself busy when you fast, as it helps to keep your mind distracted from the hunger and fatigue.

3. Patience. Lots of patience needed.

I was easily frustrated at my work whenever things cropped up at work, this often tested my patience. I also realised that I tend to panic easily when I fast.

 

Things are bound to go wrong when I have so much to do in one day.

 

Despite the popular adage that a hungry man is an angry man, I kept reminding myself to take it easy as I was fasting.  Hence, I took plenty of deep breaths and the occasional walks around the office to calm myself down and get back on task.

4. You are not able to eat a lot when you break fast

After abstaining from food and drinks for an entire day, you would think that you will have an appetite huge enough to devour a horse.

However, when I broke my fast that evening (7.15pm, to be exact), I found it hard to devour the amount of food that I wanted to eat. My empty stomach felt bloated really fast as I ate my dinner, leaving me befuddled.

 

I struggled to finish three mini burgers.

 

After a quick chat with my Muslim friends, they told me that it is not advisable to have a feast once you break your fast in the evening, or when you eat during your pre-dawn meal.

Feasting defeats one of the many purposes of fasting, which is to understand how the poor live their lives without an abundance of food and water.

Overall, it was a very humbling experience which made me more appreciative towards the little luxuries that I get to enjoy in life. It also made me spare a thought for the poor who might not be able to afford food or water.

After my brief encounter with the culture of fasting, I now have a newfound respect for Muslims who fast every Ramadan. It really takes a whole lot of discipline and patience, as they fast for longer hours than I did and every year without fail.


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