Friday, 11 May 2018

#HajjSeries... Health Prep for Hajj

Asalaamu Alaykum & Happy Friday Readers!

With Ramadaan just a few days away, I find myself in a twirl trying to wrap up some work projects, and get things done. I usually go quieter during the fast, so that I can spend my time in rejuvenating on a spiritual level, here's to hoping that it will all be done in time! 

It's also a time when I start planning our eating routine, preparing food to ensure that we sustain ourselves during this auspicious month. Last year, I completely changed our food traditions and prepared healthy food to break fast with and one treat (pancakes, fritters or savoury). Because my kids are still as active during the fast (we've tried to slow them down and it didn't go down well), so I have to ensure that the food they consume is sustainable and a good source of fuel. 
My last #HajjSeries post focused on my first entry into Makkah and the magnificence of the Holy Bait-ullah. The the place my journey had been preparing me for and, even though I did not know it at the time, the healthy eating habits maintained during Ramadaan was crucial to supporting my health and strength whilst on Hajj.

When people come to bid you farewell, they always wish you strength and the presence of mind to complete your Hajj. Only once I arrived in Makkah did I realise how important my health and physical state of being was. With very little sleep, change of climate, extreme heat and people from all walks of life, there is bound to be more than just a few bugs one would be susceptible to. I may not have known at the beginning of the fast last year that I would be embarking on this phenomenal journey, but by regulating our eating habits even during the fast, we were starting the preparation. Both Ghaalid and I were really fortunate to have been fit and healthy before, during and after our trip. Algamdulilah, we were in the best of health for this amazing trip and all the trials that came our way. 

It would have been a blow for me to have been ill, and unable to perform my ibadah and so I was completely obsessed with trying to stay healthy. I was constantly aware that I needed to be strong and ready for the 5 days of Hajj (this too is only within my control to a certain degree- I understood this). I would therefore recommend any prospective Hujaaj preparing to depart in about two months or so, to pay close attention to your personal state of health. This does not mean that you should now go and do10km runs if you have never done it before, or hit the gym for an OTT session either. It means making the right lifestyle choices in a way that it would be easy for you and the body to adapt to. During Ramadaan, I was very fussy about my clean protein intake, coupled with a good balance of carbs. I had a hearty bowl of soup each evening and occasionally indulged in boeber. I don't also deprive myslef completely, it really is all about balance!
I am not a qualified doctor, nor a dietician, but below I have shared some health practices for prospective Hujaaj to manage their health for the impending journey, which worked very well for me.
PS: I do not suffer from any lifestyle diseases nor do I take any chronic meds, so I could manage these on my own without the advice of a medical practitioner. 

  1. Try to incorporate greens into your daily meals, a healthy hearty soup during the fast is a great way. I also start the day with a green juice. 
  2. Start taking your supplements now, which you will just continue with whilst in Saudi.
  3. On a normal day I take the following: Vitathion & Nutrilite Daily vegecaps everyday. To prepare for my trip I incorporated some Vitamin C supplements; and when I felt that I needed it, a good probiotic. It's difficult to take along live cultures so a probiotic tablet/capsule will need to do.
  4. I steer clear of traditional meds, so when the sniffles started making an appearance, as is the case when the weather in Cape Town suddenly turns cold, I took Septogard, Echinaforce (sometimes Echinoforce Forte, depending on the severity of the cold/flu) and if needed, Sinugrain. Both Seoptgard and Sinugrain are Tibb alternatives to allopathic medications.
  5. If you're not a gym frequenter or do very little physical activity, try to do some daily walking just to get the muscles limber and the shoes walked-in. I do regular yoga mixed with some cardio and light weights, so I am not super fit and I managed the physical exertion of the trip very well.
  6. Try to sort out any lingering health issues here prior to taking the trip. I suffer with migraines, and would have needed my prescription meds (thankfully I didn't need it!), but anything which is manageable apart from chronic lifestyle diseases should be attended to here. It may get worse when aggravated by the travel, your state of mind, the heat and so many other factors.
  7. When I arrived in Saudi, and the heat hit me, I started drinking Rehidrate (mixed with some Tang) every single day. This worked wonders for my energy levels and ensured that I never suffered from dehydration. 
  8. I was sorely disappointed in the availability of vegetables and healthy green dishes in Saudi, apart from the raw vegetables at the supermarkets. So at breakfast I would ensure that I have some form of vegetables and as I mentioned previously fruit was a staple in my diet. 
It is also important to note that leading up to your departure,  you may get very little sleep, this further compromises the body. As difficult as it may be try to rest often during these next two months, as the week before you leave, it will be near impossible! Ramadaan is actually the perfect time to revitalise the body, as it is already a serious detox which we prepare for. The spiritual aspect of the fast adds to my sense of peace and tranquility, and completely helps calm my mind and body. 

Remember to pay close attention to your health throughout your time in Saudi. With the crowds it is very easy to contract bugs, and ensuring that the immune system is strong is the only way to combat the possibility of getting sick. When I felt run down, or felt a scratchy throat, I would take Septogard immediately. On a side note: due to the heat, one tends to drink ice cold Zam Zam water, this irritates the throat! Mix the cold Zam Zam with some warm water and drink it at room temperature. This was a tip from one of the SAHUC officials which helped the moment I felt that my throat was scratchy and sore.

On this note, I wish all my readers a fruitful and tranquil Ramadaan. May all your supplications be accepted and all your prayers be answered InshaAllah.

Good luck to those pilgrims preparing to leave, it's just about two months away so please be mindful and take good care of your health.

This pic taken in Madinah at approximately 1am

And barely any sleep before we're back for Tahajud salaah


You meet so many people of different nationalities, sometimes sitting in
close proximity for long periods of time

After Thuhr tawaaf, with crowds of people, under the blazing hot sun


Visiting Ziyarah places can involve some climbing and requires physcial stamina, especially
in the overwhelming heat
Ciao for now, 

RuBe xoxo