Nadine El Sayed
Ramadan is a festive month, sure, and we all enjoy seeing relatives, old friends and colleagues over scrumptious meals. But all too often we’re left either too hungry because we couldn’t jam suhoor in the mere eight hours we are allowed to eat or suffocated because we did cram that pizza down at 3:00 am so we’re not left like walking zombies the next day. The weird thing is, that pizza often leaves us starving anyway.
You need to get smart about your suhoor choices, there are various foods that will last you for a good few hours after consumption because they are digested much slower than, say, a chocolate or a pizza. There are also foods that will make you thirsty the next day while others will actually curb your thirst and hunger pangs. Foods with low Glycemic Index (GI) will keep your blood sugar and insulin levels at bay, which isn’t only healthy, but it also keeps you feeling satisfied for a while.
Here’s a roundup of 16 foods you should have over suhoor and seven that you should avoid like the plague.
Proteins like turkey: Proteins, especially lean meat, are great to keep your hunger at bay. Opt for a turkey sandwich with brown bread to keep you going through the fast.
Oatmeal: Foods that are high on fiber keep you feeling full for a while after consumption because they take a while to be digested. Oatmeal is also high on complex carbs, which is the good sort of carbs if you’re wondering.
Apples: Apples are also high on fiber, but they are also high on water.
Avocados: these are packed with nutrients and are also loaded with healthy fats and fat soluble vitamins that leave you feeling full.
Bananas: Filled with potassium and help reduce thirst.
Foul (fava beans): Your mother was right, foul will actually last you through the next day because it has a low GI and is slowly digested. This means that it will keep releasing energy for a while after consumption and will keep you from getting hungry or weak.
Fruits and vegetables: Not only are those high on fibers, they’re also what your body needs to keep going the next day. Their water content means they will keep releasing water into your body as they’re being digested.
Brown rice and pasta: These are both packed with fibers because the grains are unbleached and so their nutrients are kept in tact.
Lentils: These are high in fibers and proteins, grab a cup of lentil soup (ads) for suhoor but be careful as some cannot digest lentils well.
Beans: Beans, like foul and red beans, are packed with fibers and proteins. Opt for a bean salad at night followed by a mint tea drink to help ease the gas if your stomach cannot tolerate beans well.
Hummus and chickpeas: These are also high on fibers and proteins and make great salads and sandwiches.
Dates and figs: These give the body the energy kick it needs without leaving you to feel too full to breathe or sleep.
Eggs: High on protein and low on calories.
Nuts: Nuts like almonds and walnuts are great sources of protein and nutrients, but they’re also high on calories, so keep your consumption to a handful each day.
Yoghurt: Yoghurt is great to keep your thirst at bay the next morning. Add fruits to yoghurt as they are filled with water and help you retain it over the next day.
Cucumbers: These are known to be almost all water and so are great with thirst; chop on your yoghurt or dip it in humus for some variety.
Sugar-loaded foods: Not only are those high in calories, foods with high sugar content are digested fast and increase your blood sugar levels, which leave you feeling hungry.
Caffeine: Sure, the first thing you want to reach to after iftar is that cup of coffee or tea, but caffeine is a diuretic which means it stimulates the process of excreting water and so it will leave you feeling thirsty.
Pastries: A croissant for suhoor won’t do because it has about zero fibers and is bound to cause sudden insulin increases, leaving you hungry right after consumption.
Kiddy-Corner Cereals: While some cereals are loaded with fiber (like Muesli or Fitness from Nestle), many others are high on simple carbs and sugar (the likes of Cheerios). Avoid the kiddy-corner cereals and opt for whole grain breads instead.
Salty foods: These, needless to say, we hope, leave you feeling thirsty the next day. So avoid things like sardines or adding loads of salt to your iftar or suhoor meals.
Deep fried foods: Avoid sambousek or french fries for suhoor as deep-frying leaves you bloated and feeling heavy. Bake your potatoes, if you must, instead.
Spicy foods: Spicy food will leave you feeling thirsty, so don’t add chili to your foul over suhoor.