While Muslim nurses are normally seen fasting in obedience to their religion, there is also a minority of non-Muslim nurses joining the fast for the sake of good health and wellness.

With the excruciating hot weather, long hours of fasting while juggling back-to-back daily activities, nurses may have concerns that they cannot balance all of these at once. Here, we look at some useful tips that will help nurses to stay energetic during their fast.

#1 Do not skip pre-dawn meal (sahur)

There are two main meals a nurse should have: one during sahur (pre-dawn meal) and the other during iftar (a meal at dusk). A key of foods that are served during sahur should include foods that are digested slowly and provide adequate energy for the whole day.

Food that takes a longer time to digest will help nurses to maintain their energy levels for a longer period of time. They can also consider waking up at least half an hour before fajr (dawn) – giving them time to prepare for their meals.

Additionally, for sahur, nurses can ensure that they have meals rich in carbohydrate, protein, fibre and potassium. Dry fruits such as dates and peas would give them enough stock for energy; while potassium-rich bananas can suppress their thirst throughout the day.

Alternatively, they can consume eggs or a lean cut of meat like chicken and beef as sources of protein, which results in less bloating and a feeling of heaviness after sahur. Nurses who are on shift and may not have the time to prepare elaborate meals can opt for wholewheat breads and oats.

#2 Do little exercise after sahur, and avoid return sleeping

After sahur, take a short walk around the block or just around the building to aid in digestion. Taking deep breaths at this time exposes you to fresh air that may wake you up.

Additionally, avoid returning to bed or sleeping as this habit may make you feel even more tired before work.

#3 Eat well-balanced meals during iftar (a meal at dusk)

During iftar, the nurse may break her fast with a few dates, fruit juices and a bowl of soup. These well-balanced meals are complete sources of carbohydrates and more importantly, helps bring low blood glucose to normal levels.

As the stomach has been empty all day, it is not advisable to start eating in large amounts at one go. Rather, eat slowly in moderate portions. Avoid eating heavily-processed, fast-burning foods that contain refined carbohydrates (sugar and white flour), as well as oily foods and fatty foods.

#4 Stay hydrated and limit caffeinated beverages

Nurses must not forget to drink eight glasses of water a day even if they are fasting. Although water cannot be drunk during the day, the water that is drunk during sahur and iftar will keep one hydrated.

Avoid high intake of caffeine-based drinks such as tea, coffee and cola, as this kind of drink acts as a diuretic agent that will stimulate water loss through urination. Going in and out of the washroom interrupts your care routines and hinders your professionalism.

Nurses can make full use of fasting to maintain general health and improve their spiritual health. Through this article, it would be a reminder for nurses that fasting is not an excuse to be inactive; on the contrary, there are still many other ways for them to remain energised and stay on track. MIMS

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Read more:
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Note: Article first published on 15 June 2017.