Ramadan, the time of year when we fast all through the day and treat ourselves with traditional favourites that are often fried, high in calories, and laden with sugar and fat. I know it can be a challenge to eat healthy when faced with a plate of crispy fried samosas or flaky butter pastry pies. Whether spiritual, intellectual, or health-related, this month can be the perfect time to focus on bettering ourselves.
Experts suggest that it takes 21-30 days to form a new habit. Let’s make the key for this Ramadan, in terms of health, to ensure we get the most nutrients from food and stay well hydrated.
Here are a few tips to provide your body with the best nutrition during the non-fasting hours:
Drink plenty of water and eat hydrating foods
It is important to drink plenty of water between iftar and sehri to replace what you lose during the day. You can also increase water intake by eating hydrating foods. Include cucumber and tomato as a part of a refreshing salad. Avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and cola, as these make some people urinate more often which can lead to dehydration. Also, remember that fizzy drinks with sugar will add calories to your diet.
Consume the right foods at sehri to last through the fasting hours
This meal needs to be wholesome to provide you with enough energy to last until iftar. Getting in sustainable energy is key. Eating complex carbohydrates such as fruit and vegetables, beans, lentils and chickpeas will be a good source of this long-lasting energy. Pair this with low fat dairy products and try to incorporate some healthy unsaturated fats such as avocado, unsalted nuts, salmon, olive and olive oil. Some meal suggestions:
Replenish your energy levels by eating a healthy, balanced iftar
Breaking your fast with dates is a healthy and traditional way to do so. Dates are an excellent source of fiber and nutrients but not more than 3 dates should be sufficient. This will replenish your body and provide a much needed boost of energy. Remember to get some water in for hydration and this will also prevent you from over eating. You can also enjoy a hearty bowl of soup. Choose wholegrains which provide the body with energy and fiber. Incorporating plenty of vegetables is important to get in essential vitamins and nutrients. Top up on protein by including a good portion of grilled lean meat, skinless chicken or fish.
Try your very best to avoid fried and processed foods high in fat. Some meal suggestions:
When it comes to treats, remember moderation is key. Have them occasionally without over indulging. Fasting all day does not mean you can eat unhealthy food without the usual consequences. Make sure to pace your consumption throughout dinner. It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that it is full, which means you should allow adequate time for your stomach to send those signals.
Lastly, and most importantly, remember that the temptation to overindulge not only helps achieve your weight loss goals, but also focuses attention on empathizing with the poor and needy, the centerpiece of Ramadan.
May Allah (SWT) accept our fasts and our prayers during this holy month. Wishing you all a blessed Ramadan.