Eating Tips for the Month of Ramadan
The holy month of Ramadan is here! The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is revered as holy and marked by a month-long fast from sunrise to sunset. This fast commemorates the first revelation of the Qur’an to the prophet Mohammed.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims consume only two meals each day – the Suhoor and the iftar. The suhoor is a pre-fast meal eaten before sunrise each day while the iftar is a post-fast meal – often a feast – eaten after evening prayers when the sun has set. Suhoor and iftar meals are an important part of the month of Ramadan. These meals bring family and friends together in love and supplication, reminding them of the goodness of Allah. The suhoor and iftar meals are also an opportunity for the faithful to energise themselves before they embark on their daily fasts.
Focusing on the combination of meals consumed is not something that often comes to mind when preparing for or breaking a fast. However, consuming the right combination of nutrients and foods either during the suhoor or iftar could be the difference between a functional and fulfilling or cranky and uncomfortable fast.
Whether you're preparing your own meals or eating out this Ramadan, do keep in mind the following tips:
Don’t Skip Suhoor
Naturally, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. During fasting, however, breakfast may be all the difference between a massively inconveniencing or functional day.
Keep your suhoor meals light and easy but by all means, do not skip your suhoor.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!!!
Keeping your fluids up is one of the most important things you can do once your fast is broken. Before proceeding to enjoy your delicious iftar meals, rehydrate yourself with plenty of water, juice – preferably freshly squeezed juice – or milk.
Dates are Essential
Traditionally, dates are eaten at the beginning of every iftar meal. Dates are considered important when breaking your fast because they are high in natural sugars. These natural sugars give your body a much-needed burst of energy by balancing blood sugars which could now be low due to the long fasting period.
Feed, Don’t Feast
After a long day of fasting, it’s easy to want to go overboard on meals. However, this can do a lot more harm than good. Overeating can lead to indigestion and a slew of other gastric problems which could be highly inconveniencing following your next fast day.
Eating in moderation is strongly advised.
Watch the Fats, Salts and Sugars
Where possible, avoid foods with high fat, salt or sugar contents during iftar meals. While fasting, the body works to preserve energy knowing that it isn’t being fed as much as before. Due to this fact, the body would rapidly store anything that comes its way, including excessive fats. This could result in weight gain.
Salty foods can also cause dehydration so it’s best to avoid them especially at suhoors.
Balance is Key
Maintaining a balanced diet during Ramadan is of utmost importance. Due to the changes your body will be going through given the long periods of fasting, it is important to nourish yourself with the best possible nutrients when given the opportunity to eat.
Keeping all the food groups present in your plate will allow you remain healthy and functional during your fast.
Go Easy on the Coffee
Coffee consumption – and caffeine in general, really – should be kept at a minimal during Ramadan. Coffee is a mild diuretic and if ingested in heavy mounts can cause dehydration.
Fibre is your Friend
Consuming foods high in fibre is especially advised during Ramadan. Foods with high fibre contents can keep individuals fuller and energised for longer periods of time. Foods high in fibre can also prevent constipation.
Some fibre rich foods include: carrots, broccoli, beans, whole grain bread, wheat and peas.
Keep your Carbs Complex
Complex carbohydrates are favoured over simpler carbs for iftar and suhoor meals. Complex carbohydrates are slow release carbs. They take more time to be digested and inadvertently keep you fuller and energised for longer periods of time.
Complex carbohydrates include: whole grain bread, brown rice, beans and potatoes.
Lean Proteins are best
Lean proteins are best suited for Ramadan meals. They are easily digestible, high in amino acids and aid the body in maintaining muscle mass.
These proteins include: eggs, milk, yoghurt, skinless chicken or turkey (skins are high in fats and should be avoided where possible!).
Veggies are your Pals
Incorporating vegetables into suhoor and iftar meals is a strongly advisable practice. Vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre – all essential nutrients for the Ramadan season.