By Ajanta Paul with Reem Abdallah
Fasting during Ramadan can improve one’s health, but only if done in the proper manner, if not, it can cause more harm than good.
After long hours of fasting when you see a good spread of appetising iftar in front of you, eating healthy can sometimes be a distant dream.
But that can be taken care of.
All you have to do is prepare and eat food made from fresh ingredients, cooked in a healthy manner for a nutritious Ramadan meal.
Follow our tips to make a few lifestyle changes to get the best out of this Ramadan. Let this season be a time of revival in spirit, soul and body.
1. Start your meal with dates
Dates are a very important source of sugar that will replenish the energy you lost throughout the long hours of fasting, it is rich in fibers that will regulate your bowel movements. They are rich in magnesium and potassium as well.
2. Stay hydrated
This year Ramadan will be at the peak of summer when temperatures are hitting as high as 45 degrees. You have to make sure that you drink enough water after you break your fast so that you do not feel thirsty or have any signs of dehydration the following day. Drink 8 glass of water throughout the night.
3. Avoid thirst
Avoid salty foods, such as canned or processed foods, salted nuts, and pickles, because these will increase your thirst during the fasting period. Also avoid foods that are too spicy or salty, and consume more fruits and vegetables that are refreshing to prevent getting thirsty.
4. Break your fast slowly
Start with dates, water, followed by soup, a bowl of salad and then go to the main meal. If you feel full after the salad, you can take a break and continue your meals later. Overeating can cause stomach pain and bloating which is a very common problem that people face during Ramadan. Starting your iftar meal with a warm soup comforts the stomach after a long day of fasting, replenishes your body with fluids and help prepare the digestive system for this meal.
5. Ensure that your meal has all food groups
Your iftar should have a source of grains, proteins, vegetables, fruits and healthy oils.
6. Make healthy food choices
Choose whole grains, lean meat, chicken breast, fish, olive oil in moderation and whole fruits instead of fruit juices. Stay away from fried food, and food high in fat.
Meats, legumes, eggs and dairy products are rich in proteins. Ensure you have at least one of these sources in every Ramadan meal since proteins are very important for your body cells. They also increase your satiety level thus reducing the temptation for eating sweets.
7. Avoid Salty and Sugary Foods
Eating sweets immediately after iftar will result to bloating and cause a delay in digestion. It will also cause a fluctuation in the blood glucose level, which will lead to you craving for more sweets. That’s why, it is recommended to have sweets in moderation 2-3 hours after iftar.
Delightful sweets in Ramadan are hard to resist. To avoid consuming too many calories, indulge and enjoy with your family the tasty and creative delights while making sure you always practice portion control and moderation.
The more the food is salty, spicy and processed the more it will make you thirsty the following day. The body breaks sugary foods faster, and this will also make you hungry sooner.
8. Avoid coffee
If you are a coffee drinker, try and reduce your coffee consumption two weeks prior to Ramadan in order to avoid headaches and sleepiness.
9. Divide your meals
Having three meals is still important during this holy month: iftar, a light evening snack, and suhoor. This would help you avoid continuous snacking throughout the non-fasting hours.
Divide your main course into three parts. Have one quarter of the plate filled with complex carbohydrates, one quarter with lean meat or meat alternatives, and half with vegetables. This will ensure that you have a healthy balanced meal.
Adding exercise to your daily routine during Ramadan is very beneficial. This will help you maintain a healthy weight and healthy lifestyle.
If you are a regular athlete used to moderate or vigorous exercise, you can still maintain this by incorporating your exercise session just before iftar. Make sure to hydrate immediately after your session and eat slowly to replenish your fluid and nutrients. Try exercising an hour or two after you break your fast.