Fasting for wisdom and appreciation

Happy Ramadan Friends!

This week I joined millions of Muslims, albeit for only 4 days, to fast (no food or drink) from sun up to sun down. While not being a religious person, I knew there were many benefits to reap from detoxing the body.

The human body is a machine that runs on food, rest and upkeep. Sometimes we forget to take care of it and suffer from the buildup of everyday wear and tear. These four days helped me tidy up the body, but also the mind. And all the clear thinking left me with new wisdom and appreciation for the small things that are overlooked or taken for granted.

Here are three small reasons why I’d recommend all of you to fast (not for religious purposes, but for personal ones).

1. Fasting makes you productive. you are overwhelmed, bored, stressed or simply wanting to take a break, food looks like a good distraction. Getting up to go to the kitchen, or introducing a new flavor to your life promises to make you happy. In reality, it just pushes the important things aside. When your life revolves around food, it declines in productivity. This week, when I wasn’t distracted by thoughts of food, I executed many tasks and activities I’ve been putting off. In a short time I became the living and breathing motto of Nike: “Just do it!”. This new change suited me well. I felt accomplished and satisfied, and will likely adopt it for good.

2. Rationing helps you appreciate each bite. you have something in abundance, you stop seeing it as something ‘special’. Restricting my food intake to the hours of dawn and dusk meant that I had a short time to indulge in good food. And prolonged times of fasting meant my stomach couldn’t accept large volumes of nutrition, so I could eat only the healthy and essential things. I filled my body with protein, vitamins and limited the sugar. The result is that each slow bite was delicious and fully appreciated by me.

3. Detox does wonders to your body. is good for you! It means that you have more energy to shift your body’s focus from digestion towards recovery and clean up. Giving your body time to breathe and take care of itself means you can start enjoying clear skin, clear mind and more positivity to open your eyes to the beauty scattered around you! Most importantly working on your willpower makes you more confident and secure in your abilities to accomplish even what seems like the most daunting of tasks.

Fasting is a blessing that should be enjoyed every now and then to realign your body and mind, and to put yourself back on the right track. After this holiday weekend I think I might go back to fasting for at least another week! Want to join?

If you’ve been fasting or tried it in the past, did you experience any of the positive effects listed above?

Happy holiday, friends!

What I learned during Ramadan

Eid Friend,

Today is Eid al-Fitr, a special holiday that marks the end of Ramadan and fasting for Muslims around the wold. For the next three days, Muslims will show unity, give food and money to people in need, and share meals with friends and family. Being born in Azerbaijan, a country located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, I was exposed to diversity from a young age. Starting with religion and ending with architecture, diversity is what makes my country and myself unique.

So this year, I decided that I will follow my countrymen and fast during Ramadan. Going without food and water seemed daunting and almost impossible. The first days were tough. I had to rearrange my daily schedule and hear my body protest the changes by growling and leaving me weak. These mental and physical adjustments also included significant decreases in exercise and increases in meditation. In some ways I felt that I was cheating, especially when I thought of all the individuals who worked in labor intensive environments and couldn’t adjust their jobs, (especially if they didn’t live in a Muslim country). I also thought of people living in northern countries where sunlight can last for more than 20 hours a day!

Not being able to eat throughout the day meant that I had an increased appreciation towards food, and knew what it felt like to be hungry. But, unlike the one billion people faced with hunger, I knew when my next meal would come and that eased my mind.  I also began to celebrate the work Say No To Food Waste does of redistributing food to those in need, realizing that whether big or small I was helping make a difference in the lives of people. And this thought helped rekindle my love and commitment to this weekend activity.

The month of Ramadan helps people develop their will power, patience and control over their needs/desires. It focuses on commitment, kindness and hard work, which are valuable skills in our daily lives. Especially the lives of entrepreneurs who must stay dedicated to their work, overcome hardships and face new challenges.

I am proud of myself for embarking on this journey. It pushed my limits, showed me my hidden strengths and encouraged me to continue working on the above mentioned abilities. What about you? When was the last time you tried something new, pushed your limits and dedicated yourself to a difficult challenge. If it’s been a while, why not change this? I leave you with this inspiring quote: “A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.”

So how about it? Do you dare to push your limits?
Let me know if you do.

Much love and happy holiday!

Food Waste During Ramadan

Ramadan Slogan 1Dear Friends,

As I mentioned previously, millions of people around the world are observing Ramadan. This means they don’t eat or drink during sunlit hours. This enables people to understand what it’s like to go without food or water, and feel more connected to individuals in need. By going through this arduous lifestyle for a month you get rewarded, or at least, that’s the motivating factor.

And while it is delightful to see people sacrificing so much in their lives to become more conscious and aware of the hardships faced by others, it is sad to see that it is also a month of increased food waste. The reason behind this varies, but two main factors are:  1) shrinking stomach capacity and 2) a need for abundance.

Fasting for a long time means that our stomach capacity decreases and we can’t intake high volumes of food. But, fasting has a different effect on the eyes. When we see food we become more hungry and sitting behind a table overflowing with food becomes a must. Not only because we want to see more food, but because during Ramadan everyone must share food with those in need. So, having an abundance of it is considered vital. However, this means that organizers who try to satisfy the needs of the people end up being culprits behind wasted food.

Yet, some individuals have taken notice and want to change this phenomenon. Being an advocate of reducing global food waste I also wanted to contribute to this cause. In this post you see two slogans that can be downloaded and shared with all individuals who organize iftar dinners. For instance, a good friend of mine organizes such dinners in London. When I approached him with this thought he accepted that his organization does witness food waste and that they’d be open to tackle this problem.

Ramadan Slogan 2Probably the biggest producers of food waste end up being religious organizations, such as Mosques. But whether it is a big or a small organization, these slogans can be used by all.

By displaying the holy scripture in both English and Arabic, my organization ensured that the phrases can be read by all followers. And thanks to my amazing friends who helped me translate these slogans into Arabic, I was able to create materials that remind people the importance of curbing, not increasing, food waste during Ramadan.

To all those who are fasting – thank you for your strength and commitment! Let’s make sure that we do not harm our planet and hurt others by wasting valuable food.  Knowing that millions go hungry throughout the year, not because of religion but because they simply can’t afford to buy produce, means we ought to pay increased attention to our actions, especially during this holy month.

Happy Ramadan to all!
Ramadan Mubarak!

Much love,

P.S. If you have further questions, feel free to contact me directly.

Ramadan Mübarək!

Dear Friends, past weekend marked the start of Ramadan. This means that for the next month, until July 28th, individuals who follow Islam will go without food and water during the hours of sunlight. Is this easy? No. But for all their effort and strong will there will be a reward! Whether or not this reward includes the fruition of prayers is sadly out of my knowledge scope. But, those who can control their needs and strengthen their willpower will be better off.

As for me, being a curious soul, I joined in. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances I had to stop after two days. Yet, in this short time I learned a few things.

First off, our body and mind are capable of extraordinary things! We just need to believe in our strength and power. Yes, you, darling you. You are a power to reckon with. If you believe in something with all your being, you can achieve it. No matter how difficult or how hard it may seem, you will do it! Sometimes, it will take long periods of time and many attempts. But in the end, you will find a way.

Two, cleansing your body is healthy. Try it once or twice a week. Of course, before you do, consult your doctor, or just make an educated decision. Sometimes, we forget all the junk we throw into our bodies. Especially when faced with moments of stress. We consume unnecessary amounts of caffeine and sugar. And, at the end of the day seek to depress the surge in energy with alcohol and who knows what else.

Balance – that is the key, but it is so hard to find. Something like searching for a needle in a hay stack. Still. With the right tools, it is possible. For instance, using a magnet to find the needle is much easier that going there blind and using only your hands. So, work on developing the tools and you will arrive at your desired destination. Meditate. Eat healthy. Do yoga. Listen to music, or anything else that helps you form a stronger and better you.

world is a trying time for many, but probably hardest for those currently in Brazil for the World Cup. Whether coaches, fans or players, the heat and humidity of the country require lots of hydration. Impossible to do for those observing the fast during sunny hours. And as any religion understands, there are always exceptions. Including for those traveling or those who must abstain for health reasons. Those who can’t fast are doubly encourage to be kind and give to those in need.

My take away message is this. Ramadan can teach us all something important. It can teach us that kindness should be practiced on a daily basis and that we should value food, not waste it. Neither should we over indulge in it. If we try this for 30 days, we can start developing a new habit and continue it for the rest of the year. It also shows that living a balanced life leads to success and general well-being. But, it reminds us that we are all different, and something that works for one doesn’t necessarily work for the other. So be wise, do what best suits you, but never forget to be giving and caring.

With lots of love!