My first Ramadan…

This blog is here to pen my 30 day journey through religious fasting – minus the religion bit.

I’m cycling 500 miles in October with my best friend to raise money for Human Appeal. Since I’ve been fasting, I’ve received an overwhelming surge of support for our fundraising, which has made it so worthwhile and is my biggest driver to complete the full month.

If you want to show your support and, more importantly, help those suffering at the hands of conflict, natural disaster and crippling poverty, then please head over to our Just Giving page.

I’ve had many people think I’m completely mad for denying myself the joys of food, liquids and alcohol when I’m a) not Muslim and b) am by no means adverse to a good night out. So I’ve created this blog as an insight into my experience, for anyone who might be interested.

My version of Ramadan

I know there are differing opinions amongst Muslims regarding when to stop eating in the mornings, so I just want to clarify my personal T&Cs, as I’m not fasting with religious intention.

I don’t eat or drink any liquids from the minute the sun rises to the minute the sun sets. The timing of this changes every day, which I’ve included in the title of each day I blog. I’ve sworn off alcohol for 30 days.

As I’m a singer and regularly gig, I will allow myself to drink water before I break my fast if I feel it necessary, as dehydration hugely affects my voice.

As a side note, to accommodate for the many fasting staff members and for the increase in workload during Ramadan, our shift patterns have changed at work. This month I’m working 12-6 Monday-Saturday.


Why I’m doing Ramadan 

My decision to participate in Ramadan wasn’t sudden. Ramadan has been on the periphery of my life for the past three years. My boyfriend’s mother celebrates Ramadan every year, fasting day-in-day-out. I’ve celebrated Eid with his family and enjoyed the never-ending feast that comes with it. I have fancied trying to fast for a day or two before, but conveniently never got around to it.

I joined Human Appeal in January of this year, and the majority of my colleagues are Muslim. I suggested to some of my colleagues that I’d try fasting the whole month with them – back in chilly February, when the notion of long, hot and (apparently) humid days seemed a distant unreality. But like exams sneak up on procrastinating students, so too did Ramadan sneak up on me (during a heat wave), and before I knew it was time to say goodbye to the morning coffees and stop eating and drinking altogether.

My fasting story started as fairly insignificant; just a bit of cultural intrigue, personal challenge and (honestly) a fair amount of pride in refusing to go back on my word. Yet so far, it has been one of the more significant life experiences I’ve ever had.



Day 17: sunrise 04:40, sunset 21:42

I felt much better today so was back to usual fasting. I had a meeting to attend in Liverpool in the evening, so I had to go straight from work. I had leftovers from last night’s dinner, so brought that along with me and opened my fast on the M62!


Day 15: sick day

Unfortunately I was unable to fast today due to being ill. Aside from waking up twice in the night with a fever, I managed to have a good 8 hour sleep – yet I felt like I hadn’t slept at all and was very pale. I took the day off work and ate and drank as normal. Gutted really as I really wanted to do the 30 days in a row – hopefully I’ll be in a position to fast tomorrow.

Day 14: sunrise 04:40, sunset 21:42

This evening I was invited by a couple of colleagues to the Ramadan Tent Project,  a community-led initiative focused on bringing together different communities and fostering interfaith dialogue. It’s a fantastic project – they’re up on a global scale during Ramadan, so do take a look at the website here and head down if you live in London, Manchester or Plymouth in the UK. You’ll get to sit outside and listen to some inspiring people from your local community discuss the importance of inter-community harmony, whilst being provided with tasty food to eat at sunset with a plethora of people from different backgrounds and cultures.


We got there a little early so jumped in to help their team by dishing up the food for the guests. Everyone I met was lovely and genuine and it was a great experience, and it was nice to break my fast with others who have also been fasting!

Day 13: sunrise 04:40, sunset 21:40

Fasting has become easier with each passing day. I feel more or less myself until the evenings, when I tend to start clock watching for the last two hours so need to keep myself occupied. Things like watching TV or browsing social media are not a good enough distraction – amazingly – as my eyes still wander to the clock, so I try to keep myself physically busy by cooking, cleaning, and decluttering as prep for an upcoming house move. I have on several occasions deliberately walked to the shop for something that I don’t really need just to kill 20 minutes.

But overall, I feel surprisingly okay. I’ve noticed that my energy levels aren’t the same – walking, lifting things, stairs – they’re still a bit more laborious than normal, and I get tired quickly. Otherwise, I feel healthy and happy.


Day 8: sunrise 04:40, sunset 21:38

First day of fasting while not in work. Had a headache for most of the day. Felt a lot more short-tempered than usual. I also had a bit of a sore throat from last night’s gig, so no water was particularly challenging today.

It got to 4pm and I had a 3 hour rehearsal ahead of me. I realised I wasn’t going to be able to sing in these conditions so I broke my fast – I only drank water, and carried on without food until sunset as normal. Broke my eating fast out with my band mates and had a nice evening.

Day 5: sunrise 04:40, sunset 21:37

I’ve never felt glad to be working a Saturday, but today I felt just that. It being only day 5, I’m still getting used to fasting and I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to cope with a full Saturday without work as a distraction and without a community of fasting people around me. Really appreciated the support from my colleagues today who have been amazing – I’m also really thankful that my friends and housemates are completely supportive of what I’m doing, and haven’t tried to tease or tempt me otherwise.

I had a gig this evening, and we were due on at 22:15pm. As I’ve outlined elsewhere on this blog, I am allowing myself to drink water before it’s time to break fast if I feel I need to – I thought I’d have to today. However, I managed to make it until 21:37pm and broke my fast as normal.

Every night that I’ve broken my fast so far, I’ve been at home and been able to make myself a plentiful dinner with lots of protein, vitamins and carbs. As I was out of the house this evening and the venue had said they are providing food for the band, I didn’t have a choice in what I could eat. I didn’t think anything of this until I got there and the food was finger sandwiches – not an issue, but I’ll admit to feeling disappointed that I wasn’t going  to eat a hot meal at the end of my fast.

I immediately scolded myself for feeling that way. I reminded myself of how incredibly lucky I am to be able to eat at all.


Day 4: sunrise 04:41, sunset 21:37


Starting to get used to fasting – only mild clock-watching and much more energy.

I went out to a gig after eating and bought some super exciting non-alcoholic beers on the way home – today was my first pang of realising how long a month is without a drink, and I envied my housemates sipping on a Friday night bevvy. I wanted to feel I was joining in, hence the non-boozy beer. My stomach has shrunk a lot, so I could actually only drink one 330ml bottle before feeling completely full.



Day 2: sunrise 04:42, sunset 21:35

“I honestly can’t believe how many minutes and hours there are in a day.”


Very similar to day 1, but with a bit more energy and less obsessed with the clock.

When I got back from work at 18:30 I had to have a 2 hour nap – my energy had plummeted, and felt very similar to being hungover and overtired after a heavy Saturday night. Felt a real sense of achievement when I broke my second fast, and the flavours in my food were very intense, especially fruit.

My concept of time has completely altered already. It takes considerable distraction to feel normal and forget that you’re fasting, and I honestly can’t believe how many minutes and hours there are in a day. I’m so used to feeling like I’m chasing my tail, never finding enough time in a day to get everything done, but I’ve realised how unproductive a lot of my time is. Because I’m not getting up to make cups of tea or go out to get lunch, I don’t have deliberate distractions, and I’ve noticed how these minutes back have increased my productivity.

Day 1: sunrise 04:42, sunset 21:34

“I spent much of the day watching the clock and being acutely aware of the absence of food and water.”


Completely new experiences today. Got up at 4:20am to throw together a bowl of porridge and chug  as much water as possible before sunrise. Woke up again at 9, and my first thought was to grab the glass of water next to my bed (as I do every morning). I had to remind myself I was fasting, and lay there miserably, dreading of the hours of sunlight ahead of me. I tried to cheat a little by sleeping off another hour. Spent much of the day watching the clock and being acutely aware of the absence of food and water.

I had a lot of trouble focusing on multiple things at once, which actually helped me to hone in on one task at a time at work – something I’m particularly rubbish at as an unbridled multi-tasker. This shift in focus also made it harder to engage in group conversation.

At about 4pm, I noticed a significant dip in my energy levels and I started to slur my words a little. Speaking, writing, walking – banal everyday activities became laborious.

At the same time, I felt an overwhelming sense of tranquillity; I felt like I was in a bubble, but relaxed, like nothing could possibly ever phase me again. Considering I was expecting anger, frustration, impatience – this tranquility was a welcome surprise.

I expected painful hunger pangs and uncomfortable thirst. Though this happened a couple of times over the course of the day, it was amazing how in the times I was distracted, it felt like any other day. It was the autopilot routines that I do every day that I wasn’t allowed to commit to that made it tough, like taking a sip of water when I had a dry mouth. I really missed the physical motions of eating and snacking too.

This first day was probably one of the longest, drawn out days of my life. I was very aware of the time and very aware of how many hours I had left before I could eat.

The last hour at home was the hardest. I was very fidgety. I filled the time cooking and preparing food; anyone who knows me knows I hate cooking, so wanting to fill my time doing this was bizarre.

The last five minutes felt comically slow. When it finally hit 21:34pm, I gulped down a bottle of chilled lemon water. Within minutes it I could feel my stomach waking up – something I’ve never experienced before. I focused on making sure I was well hydrated by drinking plenty of water and eating water-dense foods like watermelon, cucumber, leafy greens and strawberries along with my dinner.