I have not left my room today. I live in a flat with three others and my en suite room is my domain. I just wanted to stay put, do nothing but be still and quiet. It’s not something I am going to have much opportunity for later in Ramadan, starting tomorrow – so I thought I’d make the most of my downtime. I got home late last night after the excitement of the Algerian football match and the successful cooking session. By the time I had settled, had sehur (breakfast) and prayed Fajr it was around 3.30am. I slept in this morning and ever since have gorged myself on the unthinkable other than food – a diet of day time tv. Now I feel a little unclean!
As I write this an ice-cream van drives by. Funny how I never noticed this before. How long have we been getting ice-cream vans down here? Weird how you notice these things on a fast.
I had for the first time this Ramadan pangs of hunger, that made me feel a bit nauseous and so I tried to focus on the physiology going on in my body and what was causing it. I found myself looking up the hunger hormone, ghrelin. It is secreted when the stomach is empty and when the stomach is stretched as it receives content it’s secretion stops. I think I am a ghrelin secretion hater as I always feel more comfortable in a stretched stomach state. The fuzzy head right now isn’t that bad but I am fully aware that I am fasting and that reinforces my negative state that I find myself in. I know for example that my own health and well being allows for me to fast and that within my own body I have enough food reserves to keep me alive and functioning for more than just a day. I also know that cutting my calorie intake is good for me and that subjecting my body to this kind of stress is actually a form of repair. I also know that I can survive without water until 9.20pm this evening. I also know that right now my body is going into fat burning mode to gain it’s source of energy and that I have plenty of fat stores to draw from. So what is it that is making me feel so much slower today? And hungry? It was not like this yesterday. But then again I was rushing around, shopping, feeling the Ramadhan spirit and today I am alone in my room with the television. Maybe that’s it.
For a more informed answer I am turning to science to understand. I am actually going to go away for a bit and read Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer’s book ‘The Fast Diet’ and in particular the chapter about the science of fasting.
However I have gained some solace from the following, that Michael gives us from his and Mimi’s book:
‘…Once you have been really hungry you no longer fear it.
I thought fasting would make me distractible, unable to concentrate. What I’ve discovered is that it sharpens my senses and my brain.
I feared it would be incredibly hard to do. It isn’t.’