ramadan

Ramadan Countdown Day 9

Oh my gosh, you guys. I messed up. So, yesterday’s countdown was not posted and I am sorry. Weirdly enough, I’ve managed to be unnaturally busy during the lockdown and yesterday was a combination of running around trying to get things done and also coming down with a massive headache. Also I woke up too late for suhoor, but still fasted to make up for days missed last year. Not a good idea! So, to make up for my negligence, you guys get two posts today!

Ok, here we go! Day 9 of the Ramadan Countdown! I’ve touched on this in a previous post but today is the day to map out what foods you need to buy to make for iftar and suhoor. Trust me when I say that you will have no energy to go grocery shopping (especially now with the long ques) or make complicated dishes that take ages to prepare. If you can buy items in bulk now to save yourself the hassle, do it! Now, what you buy is entirely dependent on what your staple diet is. I know that a lot of people will go all out and eat all kinds of delicious things for iftar but a lot of times these things are not healthy at all. I’m not saying you should avoid them at all costs, but for the sake your health and your digestion, I’ve found that it’s better to eat your normal foods and save the treats for once a week at most.

I’m currently staying with family and my mother-in-law rules the kitchen so I’m just there to help. Thankfully, she already has her meals planned out and her ingredients ready. What a woman. Since staying with them, I’ve started eating a lot more simply. The diet staples that we eat are things that I would now buy and make if I were observing Ramadan back in my own house.

This is all that we’ve bought:

Bulk bags of rice, bulk bags of atta flour, daal, canned chickpeas, frozen veggies, bulk chicken (frozen), condiments from the Asian isle (they come in huge containers), turmeric, garam masala, chili powder, onions, garlic, ginger, potatoes, dates, oats/cereal, milk, fruit, nuts.

And the foods we’re eating:

Curry, rice, daal, roti, veggies, biryani, channa (chickpeas), potatoes, porridge/cereal.

It’s boring but delicious and easy. My MIL can cook all of this with her eyes closed and I help as much as I can so the cooking is done much quicker. There’s nothing special about any of the foods but on the bright side: no one is stressed about the cooking, we don’t gain unnecessary weight, clean up is quick, cost is inexpensive, we don’t feel sick after eating, and we don’t have to expend energy we don’t have to get it all done. Overall, it’s an enjoyable and efficient experience. Also, it’s best to choose the easiest most filling thing to eat for suhoor. I’ve realized that for me, that is cereal. You don’t have to cook it, it’s enriched with vitamins, and it’s filling. I also eat whatever fruit is easy and if I have any nuts like cashews on hand, I eat those as well.

Ok, lovelies, that is it for this post! With most cities being under lockdown most likely well into Ramadan, it’s definitely a good time to get what we need before the month starts. Those ques are no joke! See you in the next post!

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ramadan, Uncategorized

Ramadan Countdown Day 11

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies!

It is once again a beautiful day here in London and I am so happy! This weather really does make you feel like a superhero or a normally functioning adult. Love it.

Today is day 11 of our Ramadan Countdown and I’m back it again with the health advice. Today, I want to remind all of you out there with nutritional deficiencies and/or who rely on medication, to make sure that you stock up on what you need and have a game plan. I’m not going to pretend that I am a health expert, because I most certainly am not. I’m not even going to try and give you specific advice when it comes to any ailment outside of iron deficiency. Because, I just don’t know. Now is the time to speak to your doctor about appropriate measures to take to ensure that you can fast safely this Ramadan.

With iron-deficiency (a topic I know one thing about), it’s important to make sure that you keep your levels up during this time. I know for some of us, it can be such a struggle to get through the day normally. Iron deficiency, like any other, is no joke. Some of us have a minor case while others are more severe. If you get iron injections, speak to your doctor first before taking on any extreme physical challenge such as fasting. If you’ve been struggling with feelings of extreme exhaustion, apathy, lack of sex drive, weakness, dizziness, etc. you may have low iron. I’d like to redirect you to this amazing website started by a wonderful friend-of-a-friend. She has a powerful story and her website is full of helpful resources to get you the answers you need.

For suhoor, I’ve found that it works for me to take my iron, then eat fruit (oranges/tangerines especially), and cereal. The fruit aids in absorption of the iron and the cereal is fortified with iron as well. For iftar, I try to get as many greens in my meals along with a solid form of protein. You can try to incorporate spinach into all of your meals and beef/chicken, if you eat meat. For foods to eat, I recommend doing your own research to find what works for you and then coming up with basic meal plans to make sure you’re getting enough of what you need. Floradix is recommended to be taken twice a day, so I’ll usually take it before I begin eating at this time as well.

This is a time where I’ll also take multivitamins and/or moringa tablets as well to aid with nutrients. If this is something you’re into, you can jump on the bandwagon as well!

So the basics of this are: speak to your doctor, come up with a game plan, come up with a meal plan, stock up on supplements/medications if you need them, and try to schedule any invasive appointments before Ramadan begins if you can. Please please please do not try to fast without making sure your body is in good physical health. We are told that it is okay to not fast if it is physically impossible for us. It’s frustrating to not be able to participate as normal, but there are so many other things we can do during this time to strengthen our deen and encourage our Ummah.

Do you meal plan for Ramadan? Are there any health measures you follow to make sure you’re ready for fasting? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

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ramadan, Uncategorized

Ramadan Countdown Day 17

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies!

It’s day 17 of our Ramadan Countdown and today I want to talk about what to do if you’re worried about losing too much weight in the upcoming month. Diet advice often takes a very 2D approach where it assumes that everyone is trying to lose weight. Thankfully we live in a time now that people are more aware and we know that all bodies are different and skinny isn’t the only standard for health and beauty.

With that being said, there are just as many people trying to gain weight as there are trying to lose weight. So if you are one of those who needs to keep weight on or gain a few pounds, my suggestion is now to avoid intermittent fasting at all costs and focus instead on safely incorporating more food into your day. If you eat as much as you usually do between iftar and suhoor, you will lose weight during Ramadan. If that’s not your goal, we want to try and avoid that as much as possible.

Please don’t attempt to stuff yourself to the point where you get sick. If you can, look into protein and carb rich meals and snacks. This can look like protein shakes/bars, nuts, porridge, potatoes, beans, bread, meat, homemade popcorn, etc. Please forgive my lack of creativity with food suggestions, I’m no dietician and eat the same thing every day. Basically what I’m saying is, focus on getting your weight up in a healthy way before Ramadan starts. This way you’re off to a strong start and you won’t have to try to stuff yourself after you break your fast, insha’Allah.

Ps: Please forgive my extreme lateness in posting this. I got roped into extreme gardening today. It should be a sport, my whole body hurts.

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ramadan

Ramadan Countdown Day 18

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies!

It is day 18 of the Ramadan Countdown and today I want to talk about another very important healthy habit to start practicing. It’s a long-time favourite and internet-certified cure-all. That’s right, you guessed it: drinking water.

During Ramadan not only do we not eat food during the day, we also don’t drink any liquids. With that being the case, my family and I usually end up drinking around 2 litres of water between iftar and suhoor. This is necessary to stay hydrated but it can feel like way too much at first. As soon as the fast is broken, I can’t get enough to drink, but a few sips in and I have to tap out.

The key is to get started a few weeks in advance so that your body can get used to taking in its daily supply of water within a few hours. If you already drink lots of water, congratulations! You have achieved a level of adulting that I have not mastered yet. And if you’re like me, start your morning off with a big glass of water. If you have a 32 Oz water bottle or an equivalent, fill it up and challenge yourself to drink it before noon. And then when that’s done, fill it up again and try to drink through the whole thing before dinner time.

Practice taking slow sips, don’t try to gulp it all down at once. Have the bottle/glass/Mason jar by your side throughout the day. Make staying hydrated a deliberate part of your daily routine. It’s important to start off Ramadan on a strong foot if you can. So, making sure that your body is already hydrated will keep you from suffering of thirst as much as possible during the day. You will also be ready to down those 2 litres between iftar and suhoor like a pro!

To go along with this, try to slowly cut down on caffeinated drinks as well. Obviously if we rely on things like coffee or tea throughout the day, Ramadan will be a real kick in the butt. If we can try to cut the habit now, (I know it’s asking a lot, I’m sorry!) we can potentially make life a little bit easier for ourselves down the road, insha’Allah.

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ramadan, Uncategorized

Ramadan Countdown Day 20

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies!

It’s that time of year again where we all eagerly anticipate the coming of Ramadan. This will be my second month of fasting and if everything goes well, (and assuming my in-laws don’t grow tired of me and ship me back to the States before then) I will get to spend it with family, insha’Allah! Now, with every good thing comes a little bit of preparation. And I want to take the next 20 or so days to highlight all the things we can do to prepare for the most wonderful time of the year.

First things first, Ramadan is projected to start on Friday, 24 April this year. We won’t know for sure until the day gets here and they announce it officially. Now is the time to make up for any missed fasts from last year. I have a few days to make up for and I’m kicking myself for not making them up sooner. This is one dilemma that a lot of us bring upon ourselves (from what I gather from the Insta memes) and it always seems to be the case that we leave it till the last minute. Why do we do it? Laziness, a love of food, living with mother-in-laws who cook way too well, etc. etc.

So, the first step of Ramadan 2020 preparation is to make up those fasts! If you reverted to Islam after last Eid al-Fitr, you do not need to worry about this, alhamdulillah. If you lost track of how many days you missed, try your best to remember and fast for as many days that you guess you missed. It is always better to fast more than you think you need to. In all of this, ask Allah (SWT) for guidance and also forgiveness if you are making up fasts because they were broken for a reason other than travel, menstruation, and serious illness, unconsciousness, or other valid reasons not to fast.

While you are making up these fasts, it’s helpful to get into the spirit of Ramadan by also abstaining from things like music and trashy TV and focusing on other aspects of your deen. This can be dedicating extra time to prayer, volunteering, reading spiritual books, and reading Quran every day if you don’t already.

Ok, are you ready? 3,2,1, GO!

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beauty, Series, Uncategorized

Organic Beauty: Food

Hey guys! I’m back with another instalment to the Organic Beauty series. Today’s topic: food. One of the most under appreciated topics in the beauty industry. Usually we just focus on food for weight-loss with crazy fad diets and broken dreams but it goes way beyond that. The foods we eat can also play a big role in our hair, skin, nails and mood.

We are what we eat. How many times have we heard this? Probably too many to count but it’s true. Whether the consequences are visible or in hiding, our diet plays a big role in our lives. One of the simplest ways to feel a little bit more beautiful is to focus the way we eat around what our bodies need. For example, eating a healthy source of omega fatty acids results not only in cognitive brain function but allegedly softer, smoother skin. Dark leafy greens are filled with vitamins A and C aiding in cellular turnover and a brighter complexion, also eye health.

The Prophet (SAW) actually encouraged us to make a habit to eat from necessity rather than pleasure. We are encouraged to eat as He (SAW) ate: 1/3 food 1/3 water and 1/3 air. While it’s fun to treat ourselves every now and then, doing it all of the time can end up with us feeling ill, bloated, irritable, and our skin a wreck. Even if you’re one of the blessed few that doesn’t see these effects now, they’ll show up eventually. Just like how smoking, drugs, alcohol, and lack of sleep eventually make themselves known, food has its own way of creeping up on people through premature ageing, weight gain, and medical issues.

The only diet that’s right for everyone is one that is balanced and governed by moderation. Everything else is individual so you have to figure out what works for you. From experience, I know that most meat besides seafood, tomatoes, and dairy don’t make me feel so beautiful and wreak havoc on my skin. So I stay away from those when there’s no pizza around and instead eat the things that my body does love which tends to include lots of green veggies, beans, olives, hummus, lentils, and chocolate (antioxidants and all that). This will look different for everyone so the easiest way to figure out what your body wants and needs is to pay attention to how you are feeling after you eat. Go with the foods and drinks that make you feel like your best self and don’t force yourself to eat things that you absolutely can’t stand. If you know you need to eat more vegetables, start with the vegetables you like. If you’re not the biggest fan of veggies, start with the most tolerable and eat them in small portions.

There are also so many fun foods and drinks that you can find recipes for on Pinterest that are packed with nutrients but also taste delicious. Eating doesn’t have to be boring but the more we see food as a tool, the closer we can get to feeling our best and most beautiful. I think this may also help us repair our relationship with food, insha’Allah. It’s not about extremes, it’s about balance and doing what is truly good for us. For more on this kind of topic, check out Kimberly Snyder’s The Beauty Detox Solution. This book goes deep into food and how we can use it to our advantage.

So that’s all my rambling on food for today. I wish you happy and beautiful eating!

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Islam 101, Uncategorized

Islam 101: Halal Food

Salaam, everyone!

Today I want to talk about what halal means.

If you live in America and did not grow up in a Muslim community or know any Muslims personally, the word “halal” may be completely foreign to you. If you grew up anywhere else in the world, you may be slightly more familiar with the term. Halal is the certification of food that is fit for Muslims to consume. It’s like the kosher label for the Jewish. Pretty simple. So what makes a food halal? Eating halal goes beyond abstaining from pork and alcohol. Most people have a misconception that as long as what a Muslim eats is not those two things, they’re all good. But it’s more than that. We are forbidden to consume any meat or byproduct of meat that is not certified as halal. Halal meat means that the animal was killed in the name of Allah by a cut to the throat and the blood completely drained. This way the animal is killed instantly rather than having to suffer through the process and it is said that the meat is safer to eat because of the absence of blood. Halal food regulators say the animals should be healthy and treated well before they are killed. For example, “the animal must never see another animal being slaughtered nor must it ever see the blade being sharpened,” according to The Halal Catering Company.

Halal also means that there is no alcohol or any intoxicating substance present in food or drink either. So jello, gummy bears, bacon, and Bailey’s are off the table. But that doesn’t mean that we have any less fun with our food. There are so many things we can eat so we aren’t missing out. In fact, the things we are forbidden to eat are forbidden because they are dangerous to our health. Anything that risks our health is wrong to eat or drink like eating too much and only eating junk food. Islam calls for us to eat in moderation, without greed and to eat things that benefit us because we are supposed to eat for nutrition not pleasure.

There are a lot of people out there who try to paint halal meat as unethical. But when it’s a process that specifically calls for animals to be treated well and to reduce the pain and suffering they experience during slaughter, I think it is the most humane way to go. Certainly much better than the mainstream meat industry which chooses to prolong the death of these animals by shocking them before hand. This way the animal is forced to go through a long and painful process before they are blessed with death. Not to mention many of the animals raised for our consumption are mistreated their entire lives. And also (I don’t even want to glorify this crazy claim with a response, but…) there are so many people who believe that the halal meat industry funds terrorism. You guys, we are not obsessed with terrorizing the entire word like certain news outlets wants you to believe. We just want to eat. The halal meat industry is a business like everything else and it doesn’t fund terrorism, that’s a malicious rumour started by scared people.

So, that’s it, that’s all the halal certification is. I hope this explanation was helpful and please let me know in the comments below if you have any questions!

Nahlah

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Islam 101, Uncategorized

Islam 101: Dining Etiquette

Assalaamu Alaikum!

I wanted to write an article that plays off of yesterday’s. One detail about the Islamic lifestyle that I don’t believe is transparent enough to reverts is dining etiquette. It’s simple and straightforward but if you are not surrounded by other Muslims who are willing to take the time to point these things out to you, how are you going to know?

There are quite a few details so I will write them all out as a list so nothing gets lost in translation.

  1. Before you begin eating, say Bismillah Irahmaan Iraheem. This means “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”. This essentially blesses the food and is equivalent to a Christian’s prayer before eating. If you forget and have already begun eating, say “Bismillahi Awwalahu Wa Aakhirahu”. This means “In the name of Allah at the beginning and at the end.”
  2. Only eat with the right hand as it is the most honoured hand and it is seen as very rude to eat with the left. A full explanation can be found here.
  3. It is very common in Muslim households to eat with one’s actual hand, no utensils. I have found that my new Muslim friends and family are very considerate and always provide me with utensils to eat with. But honestly, I prefer eating with my hand now too. It’s more efficient and after awhile, you get used to it and utensils become a burden. Ever forgotten to grab a fork? No problem now.
  4. This one is pretty common sense and you probably already practice this one: wash your hands before eating!
  5. Eat the food that is directly in front of you. No reaching in front of other people to grab a bite or taking from your neighbor’s plate.
  6. Once you have finished eating, say “Alhamdulillah.” This means “Praise God.”
  7. Wash your hands and rinse your mouth after eating.
  8. You should always eat whilst sitting. This is sunnah and also recommended by scientists as it aids in fully digesting one’s food. This should also be done when drinking liquids. There have also been some studies that claim standing while drinking is bad for the joints.
  9. Take what is offered to you (unless you suffer from a severe allergy or insensitivity) and do not criticize the food.
  10. It is preferred to eat in a group and to converse about subjects all across the board, as long as they are halal.
  11. Eat in moderation! This keeps you from feeling sick but also takes pressure off of your digestive system which can cause issues along the way if not done. One way I make sure to do this is to take half of the portion I believe I need. I also avoid empty calories and stick to meals that are primarily vegetables and protein. Also another reason to eat with other people and to talk to them is so that you give your body time to digest what you are eating and this allows you to feel full faster.
  12. Obviously, eat only food that is considered halal. I am currently working on an article that gives all the details of halal food and debunks some of the myths people believe about it. It should be up within the next week, insha’Allah!
  13. It is preferred that you do not drink water with your meal as it can mess with digestion.
  14. And lastly, avoid gold and silver dishware as it is haram.

So, there you go. The 14 rules of Muslim dining etiquette. I have a feeling I probably missed something so if I did, please add the missing rule below and I will add it to the list! If you would like a more in-depth explanation of the above bullet points and the Hadith that support them, you can find it all here.

I hope that this post was helpful and that these tips will come easy to you. Bon appetit!

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Islam 101, Uncategorized

Islam 101: Why We Use the Right Hand

As a new revert, learning and adapting Islamic practices can seem overwhelming. I have created this series, so that I may address the little details of being a Muslim that may come as second nature to most people born into Islam. The answers presented in these articles will be based on the Quran and Hadith, not opinion, and will be short and sweet, insha’Allah.

Assalaamu Alaikum!

Today, I want to talk about why Muslims only eat and drink with their right hand. It’s as simple as this:

The Messenger of Allaah (SAW) said: “No one among you should eat with his left hand or drink with it, for the shaytaan eats with his left hand and drinks with it.”

The right hand in Islam is seen as the more honoured and pure hand. It is used for purification (we start on the right side when cleansing ourselves), eating, drinking, shaking hands, putting on clothes, entering the masjid (mosque), and giving/receiving money/gifts, etc. The left hand is the one we use for cleaning ourselves after going to the toilet, amongst other things. While we obviously cleanse ourselves thoroughly, as it is required, the left hand is still seen as inappropriate to use for “clean” tasks. You can find a more in depth explanation and more Hadith to support this practice here and here.

It can be tricky to remember to do this if you are left-handed or simply that you’ve been using both hands to eat with your entire life. It takes practice, but eventually you’ll catch on and it will become second-nature. We should strive to do this because it has been commanded, but also because it is common sense. Using one hand exclusively for eating (also shaking hands and giving gifts) and the other exclusively for doing tasks considered “unclean” is an effective way to avoid spreading germs and maintain cleanliness.

I hope this article was helpful to you and look forward to the next topic in this little series, insha’Allah.

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