The Ramadhan Diaries

Fasting in London and beyond

The Dip Has Come

When I interviewed Dr Michael Mosely a couple of days ago for the Ramadhan program I am presenting for BBC 1 – he suggested keeping a diary of how I was feeling throughout the day. Prior to starting fasting I have also taken a set of bloods, weighed myself and recorded my BMI. I want to tackle this Ramadhan with a difference. It is supposed to be a period that develops you as a person for the better through the discipline of fasting and I want to measure that. Spiritual development will be recorded through reflection and the changes in terms of my own physiology and body through science! I have had a set of bloods taken prior to fasting and then will have a set taken after – the results of which I will reveal within the BBC programme.

But today – in fact right now at about 7pm I am having a dip. I feel a little tired and a bit woolly around my head. Michael suggested that fasting is like putting the body under stress in a way that we ‘stress’ our bodies when exercising. It is during this time of stress that the body repairs itself. It does that by creating new cells. We do the same thing when we lift weights where our muscles rip – then we create a healing process to repair. Michael’s words of how this process happens in fasting are ringing through my head now. He said the process happens throughout the body including our brain. When I begin to feel a bit fuzzy minded, I should think of it as my brain ‘getting a polish’ as new brain cells form in response to the process.

So I think that’s where I am right now. My body is relying on my fat reserves right now to draw on the energy it needs. I have plenty of those and so the essential organs I need to keep functioning are certainly not in any shortage of what they need! It is more that I as a human being am a creature of habit and it would be around now that I would be drinking tea or coffee and also looking for the evening meal.

And I find that if I distract myself, mentally, I can overcome the dip. Michael described that within the 5:2 diet process he also used meditation and that mindfulness is an important reinforcement for helping to go through fasting. So for me the mindfulness and the ‘meditation’ process actually comes through the process of prayer. It’s the time to pray the afternoon prayer – Asr – and so I will use that as a time to reflect, to connect and to relish what I am doing and why.

In two hours I will be able to eat and drink again. Taking time to think of the entire process from both a spiritual and physical perspective has been a more meaningful way to approach Ramadhan.

I have the strongest desire to eat pasta – I hardly ever have it normally but how bizarre to experience the cravings our minds create for us.

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