It’s the start of Ramadan, a spiritual time where Muslims develop self-discipline and empathy towards the less fortunate. The concept of fasting has been around for centuries, adopted by many cultures and religions as a spiritual act designed to purify and heal the mind, body and soul.
In recent times, various fasting diets have become a popular mechanism for weight loss. Therefore, it is important to remember that the month of Ramadan isn’t about fasting to lose weight, and neither should you aim for it.
It is vital to realize that you will be changing your eating and sleeping patterns, and your body biologically undergoes a series of changes both physically and mentally. Hence, it is crucial to meet your body’s nutritional needs and here we have for you some tips!
Staying Healthy and Hydrated this Ramadan
Do Not Skimp On Rest And/Or Sleep: Ramadan is a time of increased prayer. Though it may be tempting to stay up late for Suhour and only sleep after Fajr, you should still aim to get at least eight hours of sleep during every twenty-four hour period, even if this is accumulated over several separate periods of rest. A well-rested body and mind will make it easier for you to concentrate at work and have more energy throughout the day.
Hydration is Key: Thirst can be one of the most challenging symptoms of fasting, leading us to chug plenty of water and liquids as soon as we break our fast and then just before Fajr. However, rehydration should be a cumulative process. The best way to rehydrate fasting bodies and maintain this hydration for longer is to pace your liquid intake by consuming at least three to four litres of water. It also helps to top up your liquid intake with soups, fruits and vegetables rich in water, such as cucumbers and watermelon. Avoid caffeine during suhoor. Caffeine makes you urinate frequently which means you dehydrate quicker, hence opt for a milkier drink if you need something warm or simply water. Even carbonated and fizzy drinks will make you dehydrated; therefore, avoid them as much as possible.
Don’t Stop Exercising: Some form of exercise should be carried out during this period to ensure you remain active and fit; walking for thirty minutes, yoga, a quick jog before iftar, or even carrying out regular household tasks are some great ways to keep moving! If you are carrying out regular moderate exercises you should continue to meet your daily energy, protein, and water needs during the times you are not fasting. Additionally, it is advised to lower your exercise duration by thirty percent during Ramadan.
1.Traditionally, you open your fast with dates and a glass of water or milk. Dates contain many nutrients and health benefits including reducing blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease and colon cancer and relieving constipation. Dates also fill you up pretty quickly and are a great source of slow-release energy, keeping you going for longer.
2.Remember your brain needs twenty minutes to receive the “you are full” message from the stomach, so portioned, divided food and slow eating on (iftar) is key to avoid over eating. Try to eat slowly and chew properly to avoid digestive discomfort; ensure you are not eating until you feel uncomfortably full.
3.After a full day of fasting, avoid satisfying your cravings with soda and energy drinks which are high in sugar. Opt for a cold glass of water, lassi, coconut water, sherbet or buttermilk.
4.Hold the salt while cooking for iftar; too much sodium can lead to bloating, leaving you feeling uncomfortable during your prayers.
5.To avoid indigestion in Ramadan, aim to limit fried food, such as pakoras, samosas, pastries, patties and chips. Also aim to limit cakes, biscuits, wattalapam, eclairs and mithai. Don’t stop having them, rather think of ways to prepare them in a healthier way by using less oil and baking, steaming and grilling food rather than frying it. Also, if you regulate your portion size, include fibre in your diet which will aid in avoiding indigestion.
1.Do Not Skip Suhoor. It will be very difficult to meet your nutritional requirements with just one meal. It is absolutely essential to have a proper Suhoor to provide your body with enough vitamins and minerals to ensure you remain nourished and fueled during the day.
2.You need to focus on foods which can help you feel fuller for longer and gives you energy. Increase fibre by opting for brown bread, whole grain flour, whole grain cereal, potatoes with skin, brown rice, and chapatti. Focusing more on fruit and vegetables and trying to have them with their skins can optimise the fibre intake.
Overall, you should aim to keep food intake during Ramadan simple, and not very different from your normal day to day diet. This means eating in small portions but include all major food groups, like fruit and vegetables, breads, cereals and potatoes, meat, lentils and pulses, dairy foods and healthy fats.
It is crucial to stay nourished, hydrated and healthy during Ramadan so you can enjoy this blessed month. Remember it’s not about feasting and more about nourishing your body, after all it is the month to cleanse our body and soul. Your aim should not be weight loss but a healthier, happier and better you!