Healthy eating tips during Ramadan

May 3, 2021
Healthy eating tips during Ramadan

The Holy month of Ramadan is a time of fasting, sacrifice and prayer: healthy adult Muslims traditionally practice daily fasting from dawn until sunset, by breaking fast at sunset with iftar followed by a pre-dawn meal called suhoor. Ramadan fasting, coupled with practices of self-control, self-discipline, sacrifice and empathy for those less fortunate, can be maintained outside of fasting hours; evidence also suggests that healthy Ramadan fasting can have positive effects on your health, including strengthening the digestive system and improving its efficiency, as well as helping adjust fat and sugar levels in the blood, decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol, and improving heart health.

Alternatively, poor meal management or over-indulging in iftar or suhoor meals can cause weight gain and may negatively affect your health.

These guidelines may help you establish healthy eating habits and ensure a fulfilling Ramadan:-

Drink plenty of water and eat hydrating foods during Ramadan

Fluids are important during this time, especially when high temperatures can make you sweat more; it is important to drink fluids to replace what you lose during the day (at least 10 glasses). You can also increase water intake by eating hydrating foods such as watermelon or celery; another example is the traditional Arabic fattoush salad which contains plenty of hydrating cucumber and tomato.

It is wise to avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and fizzy drinks, because caffeine can make some people urinate more often, which may lead to dehydration; fizzy drinks with sugar will also add calories to your diet.

Consume the right foods at suhoor to last through the fasting hours

The suhoor meal should provide you with enough energy to last until iftar, so choose wholesome foods to sustain you through the fast. Eating complex carbohydrates, such as fruit and vegetables, beans, chickpeas and lentils, will provide you with a long-lasting source of energy throughout the day. You may also include low-fat dairy products and healthy unsaturated fats like avocado, unsalted nuts, salmon, olives and olive oil, into your suhoor meal.

Replenish your energy levels with a healthy, balanced iftar 

Eating three dates to break your fast is oft a traditional and healthy way to begin iftar. While dates are an excellent source of fibre, try to incorporate plenty of vegetables to provide vital vitamins and nutrients; choose whole grains, which provide the body with energy and fibre; and enjoy grilled or baked lean meat, skinless chicken and fish, to get a good portion of healthy protein.

In general, avoid fried and processed foods high in fat, salt or sugar, especially fatty and processed meats, various types of ready-made crackers or spreads and sauces. Choose to enhance the taste of foods with lemon, garlic or herbs. Rather than frying, it is also recommended to use other methods of cooking, such as steaming, cooking in sauce, stir-frying in a small amount of oil and baking.

Lastly, enjoy your meal and avoid overeating by eating slowly and in amounts appropriate to the needs of each individual, as big meals cause heartburn and discomfort.

Social life during the month of Ramadan is considered particularly active: people have guests or are hosted by relatives and friends, called to break fast with a rich and festive meal, served with all the best foods. During Ramadan, some people may not undertake physical activity, and consequently, may gain weight during the month; people with diabetes may not control their condition well due to the adoption of unhealthy eating habits. It is however recommended that you try to move as much as possible and to be active in the evenings, for example, by going for a regular brisk walk.

Note that pregnant women and nursing mothers, the elderly and people with conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, are advised to refer to their doctor or a medical professional for the right advice with regards to Ramadan fasting and activity.

Read: Ramadan fasting with diabetes is manageable with help

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