BEFORE delving into the dos and don’ts of Ramadan diet habits, let us first ground ourselves in the different categories of food content we come across.
• COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES: starchy foods that release energy slowly throughout the day, as they take longer to digest and absorb into our bloodstream. This helps to keep us active through the day. These include potatoes, wheat, rice, couscous, grains, oats, cereals, fruits, and many vegetables.
• SIMPLE SUGARS: high sugar content foods that rapidly absorb into your bloodstream. They can be used to release instant energy when we are exercising or active. However, when taken in excess they remain mostly unused and are subsequently stored as fats in the body. High amounts of sugar in the blood can cause us to become less sensitive to the insulin our body produces, thus increasing our diabetes risk.
• PROTEIN: these form the building blocks of our body, involved with growth and repair. Studies have also linked dietary proteins to increased satiety, keeping hunger at bay!
• FATS: in small amounts, they are important to many bodily functions and are a source of energy. An excess of saturated fats, however, increase harmful cholesterol levels, contributing to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Obesity is also associated with some cancers and diabetes.
• FIBRE: important in maintaining a healthy digestive system. They add bulk to our food and help us feel less hungry for longer. They are found in vegetables, fruit, wholemeal grains, cereals. Where possible, eat vegetables and fruit with their skin, more fibre to your diet.
• VITAMINS AND MINERALS: we need these in small amounts to keep healthy and they serve a huge number of functions in our body. Easily found in a combination of fruits, vegetables and meat/poultry.
In light of the information above, the following are general pointers related to our fasting.
• Begin iftar with dates, providing you with an immediate source of energy. Rehydrate yourself with plenty water.
• Natural juice drinks when breaking the fast are a good source of minerals, salts, and vitamins.
• Resist the urge to feast as much as you can, as quickly as you can. After a day of fasting and discipline, resist this instinct and illusion — aim to eat in moderation.
• Avoid high-fat, high-sugar content, and highly-processed food. By iftar time, our bodies are working to preserve as much energy possible. Excessive fatty food and sugars will be rapidly added to body fat reserves.
• Salty food at iftar and suhur will cause dehydration and make you feel increasingly thirsty.
• After Maghrib salah, have a well-balanced meal containing all of the food groups mentioned in this article.
• Meals with slow release carbohydrates will keep you well energised for a night of ?ibadah.
• Fibre and proteins keep you feeling full for longer — an important part of your meal plan.
•Staying well hydrated and eating sources of fibre will help prevent constipation in Ramadan
• Cereals, salads, fruit and vegetables are excellent replacements for oily curries and fried snacks.
• Physical exercise immediately after iftar may not be a good idea, as our blood flow is being directed to our digestive system at that time.
• Please be mindful of the sugar content in caffeinated energy drinks. With tea and coffee, again moderation is key.
• Take the strength and discipline developed during fasting to give up smoking.
• Do not skip suhur, an important sunnah and opportunity to nourish your body with a balanced diet .
• If you are taking any regular medication, have any health conditions, are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is very important to consult with your GP first before planning your fasts.