One of the scariest things about any weight loss program is the risk of falling off the wagon when something in your delicate new routine changes. Today marks the 11th day of Ramadan, which for observant Muslims is a month of fasting from dawn until dusk. This fast is a complete abstinence from food and drink (not even water). I have fasted every Ramadan for over 35 years but I will admit fasting with ORBERA had me a little nervous for a couple of reasons. The first is that I wasn't certain how my body would react to fasting. Although I have done really well with the gastric balloon, I still have a foreign object inside my body that has instructions for use that include medications and certain routines particularly drinking lots of water. The second concern was the fear that the change in routine that comes with Ramadan would throw my progress off and my discipline completely off kilter once I broke fast in the evening.
I made an agreement with Dr. Din that I would suspend fasting at the first sign of trouble. I have had to miss fasting before for pregnancies and when I was breastfeeding as well as when I was ill prior to my hysterectomy. It is disappointing when you have to miss a fast but obviously health concerns come first and I was prepared for it. I have made it through the first third of the month of Ramadan without any issues thank God. Much of the credit goes to careful preparation and great advice from my ORBERA nutritionist. She advised me to load up on protein for my pre-dawn meal and pass on the carbohydrates and fruits until my evening meal. I start my day with 2-3 dates filled with peanut butter and perhaps an egg or some avocado on Ezekial bread (not really bread!) I also make a point of drinking at least 32 ounces of water with my pre-dawn meal, at least two of those glasses AFTER my meal which is the amount recommended to rinse the balloon after eating. Prior to eating anything I take my PPI (stomach acid prevention medication). This has been really effective in keeping me full throughout the day. I know that it is the diet and not the balloon keeping me full because this morning I deviated and had leftover Hakka noodles and I'm already starving at 2 p.m.!
In the evening I break my fast with what we call "green juice". It's a blend of 4 ounces of orange juice and an Isagenix product called "Greens". Greens are a mix of vegetables, herbs, and botanicals https://www.isagenix.com/en-us/products/individual/isagenix-greens?gclid=CjwKEAjwgtTJBRDRmd6ZtLrGyxwSJAA7Fy-hXLUFUyUXnTG-q71Phg9Kx3L72npYgq-4tAgJkJnwXhoCFe7w_wcB . It's a refreshing way to break fast, pack in some produce and take the edge off of hunger quickly. It tastes good enough that my picky younger daughter requests it! I also have a date to break my fast. It is a tradition to break fast with dates, but there is also some science behind this. The dates regulate blood sugar quickly and are full of digestive enzymes that help the body adjust after 18 hours or so of fasting. The fiber in dates helps with regularity and satiety as well. I plan to integrate dates into my diet after Ramadan ends as it has worked so well for me. I also have two glasses of water immediately after breaking fast. In my family we move on to a regular dinner after evening prayers. Evening prayers after the initial green juice, dates, and water gives my body a chance to process what I've ingested so I'm not quite as hungry when I sit down to dinner. When we finally sit down to dinner I'm ready to make better choices for myself and have a 400-600 calorie meal that will keep me full through the evening but not so full that I cannot eat properly when I wake up to eat again at 4 a.m. Also, I needed to figure out how to take my thyroid medication in a way that it would be effective. Taking it at 4 a.m. with food rendered it ineffective and had me exhausted the first couple of days of fasting. My friend Anika suggested I switch to taking my medication at midnight or right before bed so I had a few hours of an empty stomach to absorb my Synthroid. It has worked really well and has limited my late night mindless snacking because I know I want to give my body at least an hour of an empty stomach to take my medication on. Focusing on getting my water in before bed keeps me from excessive snacking as well.
I have lost some weight in the last two weeks, about 5 lbs. but I don't know how long lasting it will be but I'm glad that I have not gained any weight this Ramadan as I often do! This week my challenge will be to reincorporate exercise into my routine. I am exhausted by the end of the day and more importantly I am preparing the evening meal for my family an hour before breaking fast which is also the ideal time to get a workout in. Like everything else, fitting in a workout at the end of the day will take some preparation (a casserole in the oven instead of searing scallops right before dinner for example) but it can be done.
I'll check in again once Ramadan ends (June 25th) and let you know how I've done sticking to the basics and how I'm doing getting back to the old routine. My next challenge is international travel with ORBERA so I better get this straight before I take off!