first sehri

I've been awake since 3:45am. I intended to wake at 4:15 but the baby decided otherwise. The proscribed time for sehri (the pre-dawn meal) ends at 5:20 am, so I had plenty of time to start establishing my new morning routine. (more on timings in a later post).

The first sehri is always a bit random for me, as I find it very difficult to plan it out in advance. It's the mild state of emergency that comes with waking up super early and knowing that this is your only chance to eat for the next 12+ hours that inspires me :)

Over the years though, I've developed a few rules for sehri:

  • Protein. Eating at least one item rich in protein will help keep your energy level from sagging too much as the day progresses. I usually go for eggs, or leftovers from dinner the night before. The ideal dish in this regard is nihari; I'm going to snag a few weeks' supply this weekend while visiting my parents in Chicago.

  • Cereal. I always eat a bowl of cereal. This is my default breakfast anyway and if you choose the right one can provide a decent nutritional foundation for the day.

  • Juice or fruit. Some kind of citrus supplement is critical to round out the carbs from cereal. A single glass of juice or a piece of fruit will suffice.

  • Vitamins. A standard multi-vitamin is all you need; in honesty I should probably take one year-round but I make the extra effort in Ramadan as the immune system does get a bit suppressed.

  • Medications. Remember that this is your only chance to take anything you need until sunset. If you've got a medical condition that requires more often dose then you probably shouldn't be fasting anyway. I also include things like Advil or Aleve in this; I tend to have headaches the first few days from caffeine withdrawal and lack of sleep, so a pre-emptive Aleve really can help. I also have been using Claritin and Sudafed since Ramadan has been in wintertime and I get quite stuffed up from allergies.

  • A big glass of water. You're going to get dehydrated, so this is just common sense.

For the record, for my first sehri I had some homemade tacos using some leftover taco beef, tortillas, and a can of enchilada sauce. I then went for a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, a glass of orange juice, my vitamins and allergy stuff, and a glass of water. I would have added a nectarine but the ones I bought haven't ripened yet.

I suppose this post was more about the practice of Ramadan and mechanics of fasting than it was about any spiritual significance. My first week will probably be like this, where I am very focused on method; after a while I will settle into my new orutine and then my mind will be freer to reflect on the meaning of what Ramadan is about. This entire month is a journey, and it starts with tying your shoes. Or in the case of sehri, setting your alarm.

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