Ramadan this year is expected to start around May 15, and due to summer, someday fasts will last for over 18 hours. With the rising temperatures and long hours of fasting, it is critical to look after your health and be safe when fasting this month.
Dieticians and nutritionists advocate increasing water and fluid intake, along with consumption of proteins while avoiding excessive processed sugars and carbohydrates to ensure your energy is maintained while fasting. Although it can be tempting to succumb to Ramadan delicacies such as samosas, sweets and many more, it is important to have a well-balanced meal to ensure a smooth month of fasting. Here are some Ramadan diet tips given by nutritionists:
Hydration, hydration and more hydration
One of the most important factors to ensure you maintain good health during the month of Ramadan is hydration. Given the gruelling heat likely to accompany your days of fasting, nutritionists recommend you to push your intake of fluid up to the recommended two litres per day. In fact, some also say if you are already consuming the recommended amount, feel free to increase this by a couple of glasses to cope with the heat outside.
Additionally, it is also recommended to avoid or consume sugary, caffeinated drinks such as sodas, coffees, energy drinks and tea in moderation. These contain high amounts of sugar and are likely to drain energy from your body over the course of a day than hydrate you. Other choices of hydrating drinks can be fresh juices, coconut water or fruits with high water content such as watermelon. Soups and stews are also good options of fluid-rich foods that keep you hydrated while ensuring you consume essential vitamins and minerals for your body.
Breaking your fast healthily: don’t overindulge
Another key tip from nutritionists is to not overindulge when you break your fast. While your body has been signalling you the need for food during your hours of fasting, when you break your fast, it is important to eat slowly and not overeat as this will slow you down and might cause indigestion and flatulence. Nutritionists recommend consuming food which is low in fat, rich in fluids and contains natural sugars which will provide you with energy throughout your Ramadan diet.
Some recommend taking a “lemon shot” when breaking your fast during Iftar, which contains lime juice (about 30 ml) and water. This drink is likely to help soothe your stomach and make it easier to digest food. Other nutritionists recommend breaking your fast by eating dates and having a milkshake. Consuming dates to break a fast has been a tradition since Prophet Muhammad, and is great for the body as dates provide natural potassium and fibre for the body. Other dried foods which are also rich in nutrients include apricots, figs and raisins.
Additionally, ensure your meal includes vegetables and protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, eggs. Nutritionists recommend consuming at least two portions of fruits during your Iftar meal to provide your body with natural sugars and energy.
An easy way to track your meal is to make sure your plate contains at least 2 kinds of vegetables, and the rest is filled equally with grain products such as rice, roti, couscous and meat products such as chicken, fish (or meat alternatives such as paneer, tofu).
Nutritious Suhoor to fuel you through the day
Nutritionists recommend keeping the meal before your long day of fasting as simple and nutritious. The meal is critical in providing you with energy for the long 18-hour day of fasting, and hence, it is important to go for whole wheat options along with fluid rich foods that will keep you full for longer. According to experts, whole-wheat foods, such as breads take over 7 hours to digest and don’t make you feel hungry earlier.
Quick suhoor ideas as recommended by nutritionists include:
- Peanut butter and banana on whole wheat bread
- Yogurt topped with fruits and high-fibre granola
- Oatmeal with fruits, cinnamon and dry-fruits
- Generous servings of fresh fruits
- Leafy green salads with eggs and toast
Most importantly, nutritionists also recommend for you to “listen to your body” and pay attention to what it needs, whether it is more water, fibre or protein. While Ramadan snacks can be a natural choice while eating before a long day of fasting or while breaking your fast, starchy and sugar-rich foods are likely to make you feel more tired, lethargic and groggy during the long summer days. Lastly, but most importantly if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, such as heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes, ensure you consult a doctor before Ramadan. This is critical as your doctor will be able to inform your health insurance provider about the same, to ensure your safety and security. Following these quick and small steps will ensure you have a healthy Ramadan diet plan during the gruelling month.
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