Have a healthy Ramadan

The holiest month for a billion Muslims worldwide is here. Ramadan is a time for inner reflection, self-control, generosity and sacrifice. During Ramadan, Muslims will attempt to give up bad habits, will read the whole Quran at least once and attend special services in mosques worldwide.  Fasting is an important aspect during this holy month, which reminds Muslims of the suffering of the poor who rarely get to eat well.

During the holy month of Ramadan, our diet should be simple as possible and not vary much from our normal diet. Those observing fasting should have at least two meals a day – suhoor just before sunrise and iftar directly after sunset. Due to the long hours of fasting, it is advisable to consume slow digesting foods compared to food that will digest fast. Slow digesting food lasts 6-8 hours whilst fast digesting food only lasts up to 3-4 hours.

What to eat during Ramadan: Well-balanced meals should be eaten, which includes food from each food group such as fruits, vegetables, meat/chicken/fish, cereals/bread and dairy products. Slow digesting foods such as complex carbohydrates are best to eat; the food will last longer and make you less hungry during daylight. This includes food that contains grains, barley, wheat, beans, semolina, wholemeal flour and unpolished rice. Fibre containing foods such as bran, whole wheat, grains and seeds should be eaten. Vegetables such as green beans, peas, spinach, beetroot leaves, dried fruit, figs, prunes and almonds will provide the most nutritional benefit. Dates are an excellent source of carbohydrates, potassium, magnesium, sugar and fibre and are traditionally eaten to break fast during iftar. It is advisable to drink plenty of water or fruit juices between iftar and bedtime so that your body can adjust its fluid levels during this time.

What food to avoid during Ramadan: Fast-burning foods such as refined carbohydrates should be avoided. These include products with white flour and too much sugar. Fried and fatty foods are unhealthy and should be limited since they cause heart-burn and indigestion. It is also important to avoid caffeine-based drinks such as coffee, tea and cola since caffeine is a diuretic which promotes water loss through urination. It is advisable to avoid overeating and stop smoking too during this time.

Aalia Mahdi
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