Ramzan is the holy month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. During the fast, we are ordered to keep away from foods and drinks until sunrise. This routine often makes it hard for the body to receive the proper proportion of nutrients daily.
By adopting a special diet plan, one that is built to help you last throughout your fast, you can stay active throughout the day. Such a plan can also protect you from common side-effects associated with fasting such as headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and low blood sugar levels.
Not only is this diet an effective meal plan for your days of fasting, but it has also proven to be very effective in normal days too. Adopting such a diet will allow you to stay healthy by eliminating the bad eating habits that we feel too hard to let go off.
Think of this month as an opportunity.
Before we start, there’s something we should keep in mind. A balanced diet is important, and more so in Ramzan. To achieve a balanced diet, it is recommended that you consume portions from each of the food groups every day. This must be distributed between the two times of meal in a day.
The food groups that you should consider are:
- fruits and vegetables,
- bread and cereals,
- meat, fish and chicken,
- milk and cheese,
- a little amount of food that contains fats and sugar.
Let’s take a look at what you should eat during Suhoor and Iftar for maximum health benefits.
What to Eat in Suhoor (Pre-dawn Meal)
What you eat in you pre-dawn meal is very important. What you consume during Suhoor serves as your primary energy resource during your painfully long fast. This is your opportunity to supply your body with long-lasting energy. Complex carbohydrates and high-fiber foods are the most popular packers of long-lasting energy.
Complex carbohydrates are a form of carbohydrates, but they don’t release the energy as quickly and as completely as normal carbs. Complex carbohydrates release packets of energy throughout the day. Examples of foods with complex carbohydrates are:
- Whole wheat,
In addition to these, you should also go for high-fiber foods. Fiber is the substance that stops sugars from dissolving into the blood stream in large amounts. High-fiber foods allow the supply of energy to be consistent throughout the day. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber.
Consuming water and fresh fruit juices will help your body maintain the vitamin and water levels of your body. Consider replacing your everyday caffeinated drinks with these two, at least in this month.
What to Eat during Iftaar (Post-dusk Meal)
Breaking your fast with dates and water was recommended by the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) and for good reason. It is vastly helpful in restoring salt and sugar levels of the body.
Water rehydrates your body. And dates themselves have numerous advantages. One of the most significant ones being that dates decrease the feeling of hunger in a body. People are usually prone to eating large amounts of food during iftaar, therefore opening an iftaar with a date or two will help you eat less. Dates are also very important because they help setting up the stomach to receive food after many hours of staying empty. Dates are also the reason that constipation is avoided, even when meal times are significantly altered during Ramzan.
After dates and water, what you eat then is also important, and will have effect on your health the next day. Try avoiding fried samosas, fried chicken, fried spring rolls, and French fries, and try replacing them with baked alternatives of the foods mentioned above. You should also consider keeping away from high-fat and oily foods like curries, oily gravies. Try and replace your meal with grilled foods or baked goods. You can also opt to dry fry your meal, or air fry the food.
Salaamah Solomon is an expert dietitian at Tygerberg Academic Hospital in Cape Town, and he says that Ramzan is the best month for Muslims to not only revive lost habit of praying, but also to rectify bad eating habits and switch to healthier diets. But of course, not a lot of people give a thought to this, unless you spread the word.
Although we eat our meals after our fast is over, what we eat has a major effect on how our body will be in the next coming session of fast. The most important point to remember is that you should eat a normal amount of food, like a meal, not like a feast. You may have been hungry for the past 16 hours but that doesn’t mean your body has expanded the capacity of digesting more food.
Solomon says that the diet you adopt during Ramzan should be in lesser amounts as compared to your everyday diet. He further clarifies that a smaller but balanced diet is enough to keep you active and healthy in the month of Ramzan, and even after that!
Remember, this month is not about maintaining your body weight, instead, it should be about adopting a healthier diet while the opportunity is still there. Adopting a lifestyle free of high fats and excessive oil will not only help you in your fasts, but will also be the reason behind you enjoying the best of your health throughout your life.