How To Cope With Ramadan Fasting During School Exams
Ramadan is once again coming right in the summer months – and also in the middle of school exams.
As if long days of fasting from before dawn to sunset weren’t enough of a challenge, students face revising and sitting for exams while abstaining from the food and drink they need to keep them going. Ramadan means a whole month of fasting every day between an early morning meal (suhoor) and a night-time meal (iftar). But what are kids to do if they’re in the middle of crucial exams?
Ramadan is expected to be from May 16 to June 14, subject to official sightings of the new moon, so it covers most of the period in which exams are held.
Here are top tips from Birmingham Public Health:
Have a wholesome pre-dawn meal
A pre-dawn meal (suhoor or suhur) is absolutely essential for a student as this will replace breakfast during the month of Ramadan. This pre-dawn meal should be wholesome and filling in order to sustain energy for many hours. It is important to include slow-digesting foods that release energy through the day. Complex carbohydrates are foods that will help release energy slowly during fasting and are found in grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, cereals, semolina, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour and basmati rice. Fibre-rich foods are also digested slowly. These include bran, wholewheat, grains and seeds, potatoes with the skin left on, all types of bread and breakfast cereals, vegetables such as green beans and fruit such as apricots, prunes or figs.
Eat healthily when you break your fast at the end of the day
The meal which breaks the day’s fast (iftar) could include dates, following the Prophetic traditions. Dates are a great source of natural sugars. Try to eat a healthy balanced diet, enjoying some protein from meat/fish or lentils and some vegetables. Eat as you would normally and consume only a moderate amount, especially of fat and sugar.
Try to plan your day ahead
Check the examination timetable carefully on the night before an examination.
Prepare your clothes, schoolbooks, pens and so on in advance to avoid rushing around in the morning.
Drink lots of water between sunset and sunrise
There is ample time between iftar and suhoor to eat and drink. Take extra special care to drink plenty of water during this time. It is good to sip small amounts whilst praying, doing revision, reading and other activities. This will keep you strong for the long fasting hours and will help prevent dehydration and headaches.
It’s worth avoiding caffeine-based drinks such as tea, coffee and cola. Caffeine is a diuretic and stimulates faster water loss through urination.
Try to rest as much as possible
Abstain from doing too much physical activity such as sports, running for the bus, and generally rushing.
Take the opportunity to rest when you can and avoid the dehydrating effects of sitting in hot sunshine.
Don’t put your health at risk
If your health is put at risk due to the fast, through possible dehydration or injury, you can break your fast as your health is more important. Islam teaches that Allah has given permission in the Qur’an to break the fast in these circumstances. Islam does not require you to harm yourself in fulfilling the fast. If a fast is broken, the days will need to be made up by fasting at a later date when your health is better.
NB: Content is slightly edited to suit target audience.