Ramadan is just a few days away and while the holy month is filled with goodness, Ramadan falls at the peak of summer this year. It is important we maintain our energy levels and avoid the unhealthy food temptations that come with the month.
“During Ramadan our diets are radically altered, as we eat only during Suhoor (pre-dawn) and Iftar (at sunset). As such both these meals form an essential part of fasting. While it’s a good idea to consume low Glycaemic Index (GI) items, both Suhoor and Iftar should be well-balanced and contain items from each food group, such as vegetables, cereals, meat, dairy products and fruits,” said Rahma Ali, Clinical Dietician at Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi.
“Suhoor needs to be wholesome to provide enough energy to last during the long hours of fasting. It is important that the food you consume keeps you hydrated, so pay careful attention to the selection of food-items during Suhoor,” added Ali.
Foods to Eat During Suhoor
Protein Rich Food: Eggs are high in proteins and most nutritious. They not only help you to stay fuller, but can be made in several ways to suit your taste buds.
Fibre Rich Food: Oat meal is rich in fibre and a perfect meal your body needs during Suhoor. Soluble fibre turns to gel in the stomach and slows digestion, which helps lower cholesterol and blood glucose, perfect to keep you energised throughout your fast.
Calcium and Vitamin Rich Food: Dairy products are a great source of nutrition. Opt for a yoghurt smoothie or choose a vanilla and honey milk shake to stay full and hydrated throughout the day.
Foods Not to Eat During Suhoor
Simple or refined carbohydrates: these are food that last only 3 to 4 hours and they are low in essential nutrients Such as: sugars, white flour, pastries, donuts, croissants.
Salty food: imbalance of sodium levels in your body makes you very thirsty while fasting so try to avoid salted nuts, pickles, chips and food that contain soya sauce.
Caffeinated Drinks: Coffee has caffeine which leads to insomnia and restlessness. In addition, it doesn’t hydrate and keeps you longing for water the whole day.
“While Suhoor is important, eating habits during Iftar cannot be ignored. Hence, it is important during Ramadan to break the fast with a balanced diet ensuring that the essential nutritional needs of your body are met. These include sodium and potassium which are lost due to sweating, especially during summer,” added Ali.
Foods to Eat During Iftar
Potassium Rich Fruits: Dates are nutrient powerhouses and excellent food-item to break your fast. It not only helps you hydrate quickly, but gives you instant energy to make you feel rejuvenated after the long-hours of fasting.
Sufficient fluids: Drink as much water or fruit juices as possible between Iftar and bedtime to avoid dehydration.
Raw Nuts: Almonds contain good fats which are essential, particularly when your body has been craving for fats after the long-hours of fasting. It is a perfect Iftar item which helps you feel full and in control, without the need to binge.
Hydrating Vegetables: Cucumbers, lettuce, and other vegetables are high in fibre and laden with the goodness of hydrating properties. It not only helps your body feel cool, but is also a great choice to keep you skin healthy and avoid constipation during Ramadan.
Foods Not to Eat During Iftar
Carbonated Drinks: Avoid drinking processed beverages and carbonated drinks. Stick to regular water and or coconut water to soothe your thirst.
High-sugar Foods: High-sugar food items as sweets, chocolates should be avoided. They are instant source of weight gain and can lead to complexities if consumed every day.
Fried Foods: Greasy and fried food like fried dumplings and samosas should be avoided. Also avoid oily curries and greasy pastries to reap healthy benefits for your body during Ramadan.
“Fasting during Ramadan can improve one's health, but only if done in proper manner, if not, it can cause more harm than good. It is important to have self-control when you see a good spread of appetizing meal. The key is to remember that Ramadan is a month to reap rewards and benefits, and increase your spiritual connection,” concluded Ali.