Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ramadan reflection #2: Physical considerations.

Another of my Ramadan resolutions was to eat better and exercise a bit more beyond riding my bicycle around -- a resolution that is really aimed at post-Ramadan. I agree with the notion that our bodies are entrusted to us, and we have to keep it working as well as possible, and for as long as possible.

Too often this is overlooked, as we traditionally gorge ourselves after sunset. It's not uncommon for people to gain weight during Ramadan, from the combination of a slower metabolism and the making up for missed calories at the end of the day.

In Singapore, the knowledge of maintaining a healthy body is considered 'secular' knowledge, and nothing to do with our relationship with God. Along with environmental-awareness, this is not considered an important topic to teach our children and youth in religious classes. Religious teachers are also not great role models (at least not visually, if you know what I mean).

So keeping in mind a previous analysis about the ethics of halal, my first step towards this resolution was eating less meat.

Besides, we only have about only 5 hours in a day to eat, so what would help with our digestion and getting up for sahur (pre-dawn meal) with enough appetite?

I wish it were mum's
amazing cooking.
But no.
This is what we ate for dinner this week (sahur was muesli with yoghurt and flaxseed everyday. Except one day when we both forgot to set our alarms -- the tragedy!):

Redred (near the fork)
Sweet potato
Day 1Brown rice, curried lentils, boiled beets, white fish with onions and chili

Day 2Brown rice, stir-fry broccoli, redred (black-eyed peas with anchovies and tomatoes. Thanks Ellen!), peach and plum

Day 3Wholegrain pasta with tomatoes, basil and chili; leftover redred; red spinach (Amaranthus blitum) soup with sweet potato; rhubarb cake

Day 4Brown rice, leftovers: redredspinach soup, lentils, broccoli; pineapple hangop (the one reason to love this country)

Nasi lemak
Sambal with aubergine
Fried rice

Day 5Nasi lemak: coconut rice, egg, cucumbers, sambal ikan bilis with aubergine; kangkong (Ipomoea aquatica -- yeah I'm a sucker for Latin names!)

Day 6Fried rice, chye sim (a spinach/mustard green) soup; orange

Day 7Andijvie stamppot: potatoes, tomatoes, escarole, hard-boiled eggs mashed together and mixed with soy-protein "sausage"; yellow and orange capsicum stew; cherries, grapes

As it turns out, we inadvertently became vegetarian! (The lacto-ovo-pisco kind at least.) Not eating meat speeds up digestion and makes for lighter sleeping -- really important because it seems we are always sleeping soon after eating (think 10.30pm and 3.30am) so that we won't be too tired or feel nauseated (my main challenge) during the next working day.

We've also tried to keep our physical activity as normal as possible. The Dutchman played squash and went for a run (business as usual, this man!), and we took extra walks in these long summer evenings to feed the birds.

We also tried to eat food grown in Holland or as close to it as possible (I know, I know, those Asian vegetables failed the test). Having made these vegetarian efforts for the first week, we took a break this weekend and ate some good meat as guests at the iftars of the generous Indonesian restaurant Salero Minang, and our lovely friends in Leiden today.

Ayam pop and rendang. Yum!
The good news is the weather is warm with cool winds, which shouldn't make running too difficult. On to the next resolution: running right before iftar in this second week, since now I'm adjusting quite well to the length of the fast. I know that if I can do some light exercise in Ramadan, it'll be harder to convince myself to not to so after Ramadan!

P/S: It might seem like an excuse to post pictures of food, but I promise I had good intentions with this post! :)

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