Healthy Ramadan – Make the Right Nutritional Choices
The holy month of Ramadan happens to be the Islamic calendar’s ninth month. Muslims all across the world fast during daylight for about 30 days to celebrate this.
This is the time to practice empathy, self-discipline, self-control and sacrifice for the less privileged. Of course, all of these should be followed even beyond this time, outside the hours of fasting.
Traditionally, one breaks the fast at sunset with a meal called Iftar and then eats again pre-dawn at Suhoor. There is evidence to suggest that fasting can have positive effects on your health.
The Ramadan end is marked with Eid-ul-Fitr – the celebration of Fast Breaking. Fasting can have a very positive impact on your health when done in the right way. Overindulgence at Iftar and Suhoor can lead to weight gain. Here are some quick tips to ensure that you have a healthy and happy Ramadan:
- Hydrate Before Eating– It is always recommended that you drink plenty of foods like milk and freshly squeezed juices. This way you can prevent dehydration and offer essential fluids to your body. Remember that water is your best hydration source. You should drink 1-2 glasses of water before your meal and avoid going for water while having your meal. This will help you delay your process of digestion. Try to avoid drinks that contain a lot of calories and sugar.
- Open Your Fast with Dates– Traditionally you always open your fast with dates and a glass of milk or water. Apart from the religious implications, there is also scientific reasoning behind this. Dates contain many health benefits and nutrients including helping with the reduction of blood pressure, the risk of colon cancer and heart disease and getting relief from constipation. Dates are also known for filling you up fast and they are great sources of energy that are released slowly. This will keep you going for a long time. That is why you should open your fast with a glass of milk and a handful of dates before starting to recite salaah. You won’t feel hungry even after praying this way.
- Let Fibers be Your Friend– With skewed mealtimes and without the morning caffeine intake, constipation and gas can become the major problems for many. You should keep your gut moving by adding fiber to your meal. Fresh veggies and fruits, especially pears, are ideal. But eat 2 dried prunes or sprinkle wheat bran on the cereal to enhance your fiber intake during this phase.
- Understand the Nutritional Needs– You should have foods enriched with carbohydrates, protein, minerals and vitamins and make it a point to drink a sufficient amount of water. At the same time, do not eat all you need at once during suhoor. Your body won’t be able to use the energy all at once and that can result in weight gain. This is because your body adapts to eating patterns during Ramadan. Adults must drink at least 4 liters of water a day. Although fruit juices, foods, mineral waters, tea and other sources account for 40% of that amount, you should still have about 1.5-2.5 liters of water per day. This implies that you should drink 2-3 glasses of water every hour from iftar to suhoor.
- Avoid Sugar, Salt and Fast– Stay away from the heavy meals for iftar that have enhanced salt, fats and added sugar. At the time of cooking, you should make your favorite Ramadan recipes healthier by opting to bake, stew, steam, roast or grill and avoid frying. To flavor up your meals, go for adding spices and herbs instead of salts. Lastly, replace the sweetened drinks and sweets with naturally occurring sugar in dried fruits, fruits and fruit salads.
If you make the right nutritional choices, it will keep you healthy and going not just during Ramadan but all through life. It is permissible in Islam that those with a health condition like Diabetes can skip fasting. If you have any kind of health condition and are planning to fast, you should speak with your physician who can correctly guide you to manage your health during this time.