JEDDAH: On fasting days, people say the hardest part of abstaining from food and drink is not having their daily cup of coffee. Here, experts share their thoughts on how to deal with the effects of withdrawal during the holy month.
Nutritionist Dr Rowaidah Idris spoke to Arab News about the symptoms and how to manage them.
“Coffee acts as a stimulant in the body and not consuming it can lead to feelings of anxiety, fatigue and drowsiness,” she said.
Caffeine also boosts concentration by increasing levels of certain neurotransmitters and hormones. Therefore, quitting smoking and reducing consumption can lead to difficulty concentrating on a specific task.
Idris said the ideal situation is to start reducing caffeine intake a month before Ramadan. “However, if you haven’t, drinking enough water between iftar time and sahoor, getting good quality sleep, reducing sugar intake and avoiding fatty meals can go a long way.”
Anjali Chawla, a 35-year-old nutritionist, also had an interesting take on how to manage symptoms. She told Arab News: “Exercise is key while you cut back on your caffeine intake, a sweaty workout releases adrenaline just like coffee and will leave you feeling alert.”
Deep breathing is also a technique that Chawla recommends to her clients as it helps with caffeine withdrawal. “Deep breathing allows your muscles to relax and it helps fight irritability.”
Some nutritionists advise having coffee during or just after iftar. Chawla said, “Drinking coffee later at night or during sahoor will result in insomnia and dehydration which will be difficult during fasting.”
The two nutritionists suggested that not only for Ramadan, but in the coming months, people should practice reducing their caffeine intake, as too much caffeine can cause various side effects, both mental and physical.
Amirah Khalid, a 20-year-old student and heavy coffee drinker, shared her own experience with Arab News. “As I began to drink more and more coffee, Ramadan began to be more difficult; last Ramadan, I couldn’t concentrate on anything because of severe headaches,” she said.
To avoid last year’s experience, this Ramadan Khalid started limiting his coffee intake a few days before Ramadan, replacing one of his cups of coffee with tea.
“I still have coffee right after iftar but it’s not as bad as before. . . Even though I like coffee, I realized that I had to cut back on my expenses because it was also making my performance in college worse.