As we prepare for the Holy month of Ramadhan, one of the most looked forward to things is food! Pakoras, chips, samosas, rhoo hafza, and sodas are some of the foods that run through our minds all day. While these foods may give instant satisfaction, they are not the best choices for a healthy and enduring Ramadhan. In terms of nutrition in Ramadhan, our goals should be to eat natural, healthy and wholesome foods that help optimize our health. To start you off, below are some Dos and Don’ts for nutrition in Ramadhan:
- Don’t over indulge during iftar; it should be like a regular meal. Instead snack on some fruit/yoghurt/nuts after iftar.
- Don’t skip meals. The evening and early morning meal are crucial during Ramadhan. It may be hard to wake up to eat early morning for suhoor but skipping this meal may set you up for a tough day as you will likely not have enough energy to fuel your body.
- Don’t drink sugary drinks like rhoo hafza, sodas, kool aide, capri-sun and the sort. These will fill you up with ‘empty calories’ and your body may actually retain less fluid.
- Don’t eat fried and junk foods like pakoras, french fries, chips and cookies. These may provide you with instant energy, but are unhealthy and will most likely cause your energy levels to drop soon after; also these lack essential vitamins and nutrients that we need.
- Eat balanced meals: ½ your plate fruits and vegetables, ¼ lean protein and ¼ whole grains; and one serving of dairy.
- greens such as spinach, kale, romaine lettuce;
- choose lean protein such as baked chicken, heart healthy fish, lamb, lean beef, eggs, beans,chickpeas, lentils
- choose whole grains such as millet, barley, oatmeal, whole wheat flour, quinoa
- choose dairy such as milk, yoghurt and cheese….to plan your meals
- For breakfast, aim to eat a meal that contains protein rich(eggs,nuts) foods and complex carbohydrates (oatmeal, whole grain cereal, wholegrain bread) to help keep you full for longer and promote the slow release of energy.
- Aim for 2-4L of fluid between iftar and suhoor.
- Eat dates during Iftar, in honor of the prophet’s (SAW) tradition and to help you gain quick energy along with some magnesium, potassium and fiber. Use caution, if you are a diabetic or have kidney disease.
- Plan your meals ahead of time so that you are not forced to resort to ‘quick-fixes’ or order food from outside which is less likely to be healthy. Refer to the following link for some healthy suhoor and iftar recipes: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Healthyramadan/Pages/fastingdietplan.aspx
- If you feel that you are not getting enough fruits and vegetables in your diet, then take a daily multivitamin to help meet your nutritional needs.
If it sounds overwhelming, make small changes one at a time, and reward yourself for making a good change. You will benefit by feeling better and having more energy. Remember what you eat, makes your body. Lastly, if you do have any significant past medical history or are on any medications, make sure you check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet.