Intended for healthcare professionals

Career Focus

Working while fasting

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7474.s192 (Published 06 November 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:s192
  1. Ahmed Kassem, BMJ Clegg scholar and final year medical student
  1. University of Cairo, Egypt

Fasting in Ramadan is one of the five basics of Islam and is not just about abstaining from food and drink from the break of dawn (fajr) until sunset (maghreb). The main objective is to tame any unwanted habits and change your behaviour in order to become a better person.

Because fasting is done during the daytime, it usually means abstaining from food and drink while at work. Some people wish to comply with Ramadan but find it hard to concentrate on their work when fasting. Here are some simple tips to help you fast without it affecting your concentration at work.

  • Have your last meal as late as possible—this gives you a good reserve for the rest of the day

  • Eat a lot of protein in your last meal, as it takes a long time to digest

  • Drink as much water as you can—you won't be able to drink later on

  • If you are not working a shift, start your work as early as possible because the earlier you start, the quicker you finish before becoming tired

  • Work in your lunchtime—this is usually a quiet time so you can use it effectively

  • Avoid unnecessary tasks—save your energy for the most important ones

  • Delegate promptly the tasks that can be done by others, and try not to take on new tasks

  • Try to do more work at night (ie on night shifts)—most of your colleagues will welcome this

  • When breaking your fast while at work, don't disturb your work with a main meal. A warm drink or snack is usually enough to continue with the same concentration

  • Avoid overeating at any meal—overeating will decrease your concentration and you are likely to feel tired

Remember, fasting is not a punishment and you do not need to stop work in order to fast.

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