The holy month of Ramadan is falling closer to summer this year, which means that fasting hours will be longer. Its is extremely pivotal for anyone fasting during Ramadan– the word has Arabic roots in ramiḍa or ar-ramaḍ, meaning scorching heat or dryness- to maintain healthy eating habits, to ensure that your body can last the whole day of fasting, and you have enough energy to keep you going.
During the days of fasting, your body’s energy comes mainly from the glucose you consume during your Suhour meal, however, this can only supplement you for a few hours, and afterwards your body needs to rely on your glycogen and fat reserve for energy for the rest of the day. After the fast, your body has a chance to revitalize itself through the food you had during Iftar. Here are some Ramadan fasting tips to keep in mind to have a healthy and happy month:
Don’t skip your Suhour meal
Your pre-dawn meal, or Suhour, is your fuel for the day, and it is critical in ensuring your body has the energy to survive the long day of fasting ahead of you, and hence you should never skip it. In fact, the meal also plays a very important role in ensuring you don’t overeat when you break your fast. You should ensure that your Suhour meal is well-balanced and contains plenty of high fibre foods such as cereals, dates, bran, whole wheat, vegetables, fruits, and potatoes as these are digested slowly by the body, keeping you full for a longer time. Whole wheat breads and cereals are particularly important as they are rich in Vitamin B, which helps extract and release energy from all other food you consume during your meal.
Additionally, one of the most important Ramadan health tips is make sure your pre-dawn meal also contains sufficient protein, including foods such as eggs, cheese, yogurt, meat, as these will be your main source of energy for the day.
Say no to sugary and processed food
While it can be very tempting to indulge in the wide variety of Ramadan desserts, it is very important to moderate your sugar intake, as such foods have refined carbohydrates, which are calorie dense and provide little to no nutrition to your body. Most processed foods and high in sugar foods only give your body energy for a few hours, and then lead to a significant decrease in blood sugar levels, which causes you to have low energy for the rest of the fasting day.
Again, while it can be really tempting to indulge in Ramadan drinks such as Tamarind and Hibiscus, these drinks have a very high sugar content and end up dehydrating you. It is crucial that you drink at least 8-10 glasses of water between Iftar and Suhour. Other juices, coconut water, milk can also be consumed, however, water is always the best choice of drink for hydration purposes. Also make sure you don’t consume too much caffeine, whether tea, coffee or soda, as these drinks dehydrate your body quicker. If you must consume caffeine rich drinks, make sure you do so in moderation and supplement your diet with extra water to make up for the same.
Replenish your energy reserve during your Iftar meal
While breaking your fast, make sure you do so slowly and don’t overeat, as this is likely to slow you down further. Nutritionists recommend breaking your fast slowly with some dates and water and then going ahead to your main meal, as dates are high in energy and ensure digestive enzymes are released in your body, thus preparing you for your Iftar meal. Again, just as your Suhour meal, avoid heavily processed and sugar rich food, as these will burn through your body very quickly. Several doctors recommend starting your Iftar meal with soup as these are soothing for your stomach, while still providing you with important vitamins and minerals, and give you a substantial helping of vegetables to help replenish your body quicker.
Try and avoid oily and fried food, as these will be very harsh for your stomach after an entire day of fasting, and are usually calorie dense and nutrition deprived. No matter what you are eating, make sure to take it slow and not overindulge as this is likely to make you feel sick.
Other small factors to ensure that you don’t feel thirsty during your day of fasting is to avoid salt rich foods, such as crackers, nuts and pickles. Additionally, as listed above make sure that you avoid heavily caffeinated drinks, and avoid foods rich in processed sugar and flour, oil and butter to ensure you don’t drain your body’s hydration over the day.
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 also goes for children, seniors and pregnant women. Talking to your doctor and informing your health insurance provider about the same is critical to your health and safety. Remember healthy fasting is safe fasting, and it is crucial to take care of your body during the holy month. Keep these tips in mind to ensure you supplement it with adequate nutrition and vitamins. Ramadan Mubarak!
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