Hungry for Ramadan

Hungry for Ramadan

The Solitude of the Suhoor – The Morning Meal

suhoor_pic.jpgEach morning during Ramadan is the suhoor (the pre-dawn meal), the private antithesis to the usually congregational and public iftar at the end of the day.  It is the fasting Muslim’s daily opportunity to set the tone for the day, both physically and spiritually.  When done right, the suhoor  allows you to properly focus on your daily responsibilities as well as your religious ones, and when done wrong (or not at all), it just plain makes your day miserable.
There are few opportunities to be truly alone with yourself (and by extension, God) than the early morning hours before the break of dawn, when the fajr prayer normally takes place.  The world outside is still, and having just woken up, your mind is clear and in the best shape for communication with the Divine.  Ideally, if you can leave enough time for both prayer and eating before dawn, it is an enriching experience.  Even those who don’t have the time to do this normally are making up for it in this last ten days of Ramadan, when extra prayers are recommended and the “Night of Power” (said to be on one of the odd-numbered days in the last third of the month) awaits.


We can’t, however, forget the practical purpose of the suhoor – to eat a balanced breakfast that can get you through the day.  I’ve tried every variation on the meal – stuffing myself with everything I could find in the kitchen, loading up with slow-burning meat, and just simply drinking water and juice.  But fluids alone aren’t enough, and protein is better suited for the evening meals, where it won’t be stored as fat when you sleep. 
The focus should be on the complete energy and hydration needs of the day ahead. In the end, I’ve settled on a larger-than-normal “carbo-loading” breakfast — filling oatmeal, several glasses of juice and water, and no more than two eggs (or maybe a pancake breakfast at a 24-hour IHOP).  The large quantities of fluids are essential to reduce dehydration (and splitting headaches). Complex carbohydrates help maintain a store of energy that is released slowly throughout the day. This combination seems to work the best for me in terms of how I feel towards the end of the fast.
The best part of having your breakfast done well before you have to get ready for work — assuming you didn’t stay up too late the previous night — is that you have some additional time for prayer and reflection in the early morning hours.  Sometimes I go out on the porch as the sky turns to light, and read my Qur’an by the emerging daylight.  Other times, I extend my morning prayers with additional ones where I seek guidance for the difficult decisions in my life.  And the rest of the time — well, I collapse back into my bed.  Sometimes, you just can’t fight the sleep.

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posted October 8, 2007 at 12:51 pm

Does anyone else have a hard time eating so early in the morning? I have to force myself to chew and swallow. It’s not because I’m still full from the night before, but for some reason, I can’t stand to eat early in the morning. This is the hardest part of Ramadan for me. If I don’t eat suhoor, I’ll be starving before 8am, but to eat is a chore.
I eat two pieces of whole-grain toast with natural peanut butter and a banana and drink a glass of cow and soy milk (mixed together) and a glass of water. This gets me through the day quite well and by iftar time, I’m still not really hungry. I couldn’t choke down a bigger breakfast anyway.
I think my pre-dawn mornings would be much more peaceful if I didn’t have to eat!

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posted October 9, 2007 at 4:07 pm

It really sucks when you sleep through it, and are running on empty until iftar.

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posted October 9, 2007 at 10:16 pm

I don’t have a hard time eating in the morning oddly enough, but I do always need someone, such as my mother, to wake me up and set food in front of my face.
And another odd thing about it is that, I’m more awake when I get up so early to eat rather than getting up ready for school

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posted October 10, 2007 at 12:42 pm

im at an advantage during Ramadan. Breakfast and dinner are my favorite meals. during the rest of the year, i usually just snack during the day when i get hungry.
i am an early riser so this is also easy for me. for suhoor, i eat:
a peice of fruit
greek yogurt
tea with soymilk
a lot of water!!!
that usually gets me through the day with minimal hunger.
i forgot to set my alarm the first saturday and slept right through fajr… i woke up in a panic to see the sky lit up. that day was TOUGH! luckily, i didnt have work and slept through a whole lot of it. times like those you just have to say, alhamdulillah for the extra effort and iman it takes to get to maghrib.

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