Stay Healthy This Ramadan With These 10 Tips
When observing Ramadan, it is important, especially for busy professionals, to maintain healthy, nutritious eating habits. The ninth month in the Islamic calendar, Ramadan, is a month of fasting observed by Muslims worldwide.
Here are ten tips to help you stay fit and healthy during this holy month:
1. Don’t skip ‘sahur’
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In the same way, the meal that is eaten before dawn, sahur, is essential during Ramadan. The meal fuels your body and helps your body stay hydrated until your next meal at ‘iftar’. It will also keep you from overeating when you break your fast at sunset.
2. Balanced meals only
Let your meal at sahur be well-balanced. It should contain complex, slow-releasing carbohydrates like oats, wheat or lentils that will give you a feeling of fullness for the rest of the day and keep your blood sugar steady. The meal should also be high in fibre (cereals, fruits and vegetables), and proteins (eggs, meat, yoghurt and cheese) to keep you hydrated and energised throughout the day.
3. Don’t overindulge
It is very tempting to overindulge in all the foods you may have been craving during the day, but it is important to break your fast slowly. Start with some water and a few dates, which are a good source of energy for the body and help secrete digestive enzymes in preparation for your main meal, which you can eat after waiting a while. Let your main meal contain a lot of vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates. Avoid fats and heavy oils. Make sure you eat your meal slowly to give your body time to digest the food.
4. Soups are good!
Thin soups should be a regular food on your iftar meals. They are easy to make, warm and soothing to the stomach. They are also a great source of fluids, vitamins and minerals. You can add colourful vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers and fresh herbs. Also, limit the amount of salt and oil you use to prepare them.
5. Stay hydrated
Drink a lot of fluids between the period of iftar and suhoor. This will help you stay hydrated during your fast. Although milk, soup and juices are sources of fluids, water is the best choice. Make sure to drink at least 8 cups of water every day and consume other drinks in moderation.
6. Avoid caffeinated drinks
Caffeine is a diuretic. What this means is that it stimulates faster loss of water and that leads to dehydration. Avoid caffeinated drinks like strong tea, cola or coffee, or drink them in moderation.
7. Cut down on processed, fatty and sugary foods
Heavily processed foods that contain refined carbohydrates like white flour and sugar are high in fat and low in nutrients. They should be avoided during Ramadan as your body needs all the nutrients it can possibly get.
8. Avoid deep frying
Try your best to avoid fried foods or those prepared with large quantities of oil. If you cannot avoid frying the food, you can reduce the quantity of oil used or use monosaturated fats like sunflower oil, canola oil and corn oil. We do not recommend olive oil for frying foods.
9. Avoid working out while fasting
It is best to leave your working out until after the fasting hours. This is to avoid dehydration. We suggest that you work out after iftar when you can rehydrate as often as possible and your energy levels are up. Before you begin your exercise session, give your body enough time (about two to three hours) to digest the food properly. Don’t forget to hydrate throughout your workout and drink a lot of water afterwards. Staying hydrated is important during exercise as water regulates the body temperature, lubricates the joints and transports nutrients throughout the body.
10. Consult your doctor if you have a physical condition
Before Ramadan, older Muslims, pregnant women, children, individuals taking medication and others with medical conditions should consult their doctors and adapt their fasting to the advice given.