Quick Iftar Tips for the Family Caregiver

After a day of fasting and caregiving, the time to break fast is long-awaited. Here are a few tips that may help the family caregiver have better iftars this Ramadan.

by Sarah Anati

Fasting or Sawm is one of the five pillars of Islam; specifically the fourth pillar. During the Ramadan month, from sunrise to sunset, Muslims all over the world refrain from eating and drinking. It is only when the sun dips below the horizon and the day has come to its end that Muslims break their fast with an evening meal called iftar

As a family caregiver, caring for loved ones on top of fasting may be a tiring experience. Iftar is the occasion in which sustenance is regained and replenished. Here are some tips and reminders for family caregivers to enjoy iftar this Ramadan.

Plan and prepare meals beforehand

As a caregiver, it may be a struggle trying to juggle caring for loved ones whilst also trying to immerse in the Ramadan fast and rituals. This may be especially challenging when the time to break fast approaches as the iftar meal needs to be prepared beforehand.

Meal preparation is a good way to save time and money as the food can be made in big batches, stored in the refrigerator and heated up when it is time to be served. When planning for iftar dinners, family members can come together to give their input on their favourite meals, easy-to-make dishes and simple suggestions on what best to have for iftar

When preparing for the meals, family members can take turns to shop for groceries and cook so that the task of cooking iftar dinners does not fall solely on a single person. As this Ramadan period is a time for family, involve and include loved ones in the decision-making process to make iftar meals a time that everyone looks forward to. 

You can also opt for pre-made meals or supporting your local food haunts by ordering food in advance from a range of apps so that you have more free time off for yourself on some days.

Break your fast as soon as the call of prayer is heard

As the last few rays of the sun fade into twilight, get the family together around the table in anticipation of breaking fast. Take this time to reflect on the events of the day, make dua or prayer for better days and seek solace in God. 

Finally, when the call of Maghrib prayer is resounding in the air, it is then time to break your fast together. There is no need to extend your fast any longer than necessary as fasting for too long may cause the body to start breaking down muscle protein for energy. It is also Sunnah to break fast quickly when it is time. 

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The people will continue to prosper as long as they hasten the breaking of the fast.” (Sahih Muslim, 2417, Book 6)

Break your fast with dates and water

Fruit of the date palm tree, dates can be eaten fresh or dried. It was a tradition of the Prophet to break fast with dates and water. Therefore, it’s only fitting to try to emulate His ways and follow Sunnah in this holy month. Of course, this practice does not come without its reasons. 

Dates are high in fibre, antioxidants and nutrients and easily digestible making them a quick source of energy. This helps the body to return its blood glucose level to normal after a long day of fasting. 

Eat in moderation 

With the temptations of local delicacies and abundant types of kuih from the Bazaar Ramadan, it would be easy to overindulge in these Ramadan treats. However, keep in mind one of the pivotal values during Ramadan; only eat what you need and not what you want. When buying food from the bazaar or stalls, resist the urge to over-purchase so as to avoid the common issues of overeating or wasting of food when it goes uneaten. 

Overeating may also lead to health complications such as hyperglycemia in people with diabetes, weight gain and cause pressure to build, gastric acid to back up and lead to heartburn when there is too much food in the stomach. There is no need to overcompensate for the meals that were missed during the day. Eat in moderation and in accordance with what is actually required. 

It is advisable to divide iftar into two parts so as not to overwhelm the body. In the first part, break fast with dates and water followed by a light snack. Practice restraint and slowly pace yourself. After the first part of iftar, take a break and perform prayers or just rest from eating. Then, the second part of iftar can commence.

If there is still lingering hunger and a pang for food after tarawih prayers, have a simple supper or moreh. Keep it light with some fresh fruit, nuts or small portions kuih. Eating heavy meals before going to bed might lead to a cycle of overeating and weight gain and is definitely not advisable for people prone to acid reflux as lying down for bed so soon after eating exacerbates the reflux. 

Iftar: Traditions for the Family

Caregiving can be a demanding task that takes a toll on oneself and this is further compounded with the fast during Ramadan. But the key to a healthy Ramadan is eating in moderation and maintaining a balanced diet and this practice should be carried throughout the fasting period and even after. 

Iftar is a joyous occasion in which Muslims gather with family and friends to break their fast whilst instilling feelings of gratitude and empathy. The true meaning of fasting is not to get through the day with little to no food and drink, but it is to understand the plight of the less fortunate and appreciate what we have. 

Homage wishes you Ramadan Mubarak and Selamat Berpuasa.

References
  1. Avran, D. (2019, May 7). What’s behind the Islamic tradition of breaking fast with dates? Free Malaysia Today. https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/leisure/2019/05/07/whats-behind-the-islamic-tradition-of-breaking-fast-with-dates/
  2. Elliott, B. (2018, March 21). 8 proven health benefits of dates. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-dates
  3. Jan Mohamed, H. J., Nazri, N. H., & Loy, S. L. (2013). Ramadan bazaar and Ramadan buffets: the possible influence on eating behavior and health among Malaysian Muslims. Journal of Fasting and Health, 1(2), 43-45. http://dx.doi.org/10.22038/jfh.2013.2008
  4. Jones, T. (2021, February 11). Is it bad to eat before bed? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/eating-before-bed#1
  5. King’s College Hospital London. (2018, May 2). Health complications associated with wrong practices during fasting. https://kingscollegehospitaldubai.com/health-complications-associated-wrong-practices-fasting/
  6. Rouhani, M. H., & Azadbakht, L. (2014). Is Ramadan fasting related to health outcomes? A review on the related evidence. Journal of research in medical sciences: the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 19(10), 987–992. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4274578/
About the Writer
Sarah Anati
A nostalgic soul armed with the yearn to explore different possibilities and enact positive change. Always eager to experience all that life has to offer!
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