Dubai: 5 tips on how to plan a healthy Ramadan from health expert

Ronan Diego de Oliviera says that the holy month can be one of the healthiest in the year with the right mindset

by

Lamya Tawfik

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Published: Sun 26 Feb 2023, 2:50 PM

Last updated: Sun 26 Feb 2023, 9:59 PM

With only a few weeks before the arrival of Ramadan, health experts are saying that planning for the holy month and designing a healthy routine is important.

Ronan Diego de Oliviera, head of health and fitness at Mindvalley, is also an expert in designing optimal, science-based protocols to improve human health and wellness. He is currently in Dubai as one of the speakers for the Mindvalley Live in Dubai summit which takes place over this weekend.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, he said that he observes the fast during Ramadan every year, and that it can be one of the healthiest months of the year. “Fasting is incredibly healing for the body as long as you don’t come with the mindset that you’re going to eat the world at Iftar to compensate for the fast,” he said.

Instead, Ronan says, one must come with the mindset that this is the time to allow the body and give it the space to be resourceful without stimuli. Before the month of Ramadan, Ronan said there are a few things that one can do to ensure a healthy month.

Ronan Diego de Oliviera. Photo: Supplied
Ronan Diego de Oliviera. Photo: Supplied

1. Cut out the caffeine

His first tip is to take it easy on caffeine. He suggests cutting it out completely and replacing it with decaffeinated choices. “In the first few days people feel like zombies without their coffee, and so when Iftar comes they are less likely to make wise choices and their will power is zero.”

2. Establish a routine

He also said that planning how to navigate the month and establishing a routine before is important. “Establish a routine to plan what the month will be like for your health. What is your intention for your body? If you improvise it, you will be lost with no structure. If you make decision when you’re tired and hungry you will not make the wisest decisions,” he said.

Ronan proposes planning when you want to go to the gym or go for walk, what you will eat after breaking the fast to reduce the chances of sugar spikes, and what you will eat to keep energy levels steady. “Without a plan you will make the easiest choice and it’s not usually one that you will want to make,” he said.

3. Connect your mind and body

During the summit, Ronan spoke to attendees about the importance of connecting with one’s own body when it comes to transformation. “Change the focus. Instead of 'I want to go on a diet to lose weight', think 'I need to take care of my body',” he said.

Often, people lose weight but then regain it, losing faith in themselves and starting to the think that there’s something wrong with their body. “No," he explained. "There’s something wrong about how we think about transforming the body."

The risk here is what he calls the disconnection – the moment of separation in which one thinks the body is not in one's control and focuses on other areas in one's life. “The body becomes something that transports your head, to take you to meetings and it shouldn’t be (so),” he said, adding that there is a need to rethink the mastering of the body, and to focus on mastering the connection with the body.

4. Start from the beginning in both nutrition and fitness

Just like with martial arts, Ronan suggests progressing from white belt to black belt in the two areas of nutrition and fitness. The ‘white belt’ for nutrition is hydration and intermittent fasting. “Worry about the rest of the food later,” he said.

For fitness, the ‘white belt’ is to break your sedentary lifestyle and to include basic strength training. “Walk every day, move frequently. Your body is made of mostly water and a flowing river is full of life while stagnant water isn’t,” Ronan added.

5. Be mindful of other factors

Other pieces of the health puzzle include sleep, stress, having the right mindset, a sense of purpose and connections. In fact, to make the leap from knowing to doing, Ronan suggested that one looks closely at the human connections in their lives. “If you feel lonely you don’t have the motivation to take care of your body. If you have lack of connection, you have an uneasy feeling,” he said, adding, “maybe you’re lost, or you need more joy or a bigger meaning. Behaviour changes if you do the deep work.”

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