The Ramadan period is a time when Muslims all over the world observe fasting for 29-30 days during the daytime! Muslims taking part in Ramadan do not eat or drink anything during daylight hours, eating one meal (the ‘suhoor’) just before dawn and another (the ‘iftar’) after sunset. After the days of fasting, Ramadan is usually marked by a Festival called ‘Eid-ul-Fitr’ which is a special celebration for the breaking of Fast! During the fasting period, your body draws on stored carbs and fat for survival but you may still feel hungry and dehydrated. You may also feel a bit dizzy and lack concentration during the day due to water loss through breathing, sweats, and urine.
Intermittent fasting such as Ramadan has been found to have profound beneficial effects on overall health including a decrease in weight gain, better glucose and blood pressure control thereby reducing complications due to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
It is very possible to get all essential nutrients daily while fasting, so here are a few tips to help you nourish yourself and help during the fasting period:
Take enough water or foods high in fluids during the predawn meal and after fast, this will reduce dehydration during the fasting period and also prevent constipation. You can also take fruits that have a high percentage of water such as cucumber, watermelon, oranges, mangoes, strawberries e.t.c It is also very important that you avoid drinks high in caffeine, as these may result in dehydration.
Take foods rich in dietary fiber and protein
Eating foods rich in simple sugar especially for pre-dawn meals will lead to early digestion and absorption and subsequent hunger. Foods rich in fiber and protein increase satiety and keeps hunger at bay. Foods that can be taken especially during the Suhoor include Oatmeal with fruit toppings and peppered fish, whole bread and veggie sandwich, pap from whole grains and MoinMoin e.t.c
Don’t break your fast with large meals
Eating a large meal after a fast can cause intestinal discomfort. Foods such as fries, pastries, and creamy foods may result in weight gain during Ramadan. Start with hydrating fluid-rich foods such as watermelon, fresh juice, smoothie, and soups before proceeding to the main meal. To enjoy the health benefits that come with fasting, choose a low fat and low carb diet and avoid taking drinks high in added sugar. This will help in losing a few pounds and improve your metabolic health.
Eat nutrient-dense foods
Your food must be moderate in quantity but very rich in quality. Carefully select your foods when shopping and eat foods from all food groups such as whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables, fish, and lean meat, so you won’t be lacking in any nutrients. Does your plate feature all colors of foods? Then you are likely having a nutritious meal! If you decide to go on any nutrient supplement, check with your doctor or dietitian.
Do some light exercise shortly after eating
Stretch yourself by walking a few miles or doing home exercises 1 or 2hours after evening meals so you can feel a bit light before sleeping. This will help you increase your physical activity lightly and improve digestion. Do not exercise while fasting to avoid dizziness and fainting.
Speak with your doctor!
Although those with medical conditions (especially Type 2 diabetes), pregnant women, and breastfeeding women are usually exempted from fast, it is your decision to make. Make sure you check with your doctor before and during the fasting period for proper management. If you are managing Type 2 diabetes, remember to monitor your blood sugar strictly and reach out to your dietitian on balancing your carb intake during the Suhoor and Iftar.
Have a happy and blessed Ramadan!