Ramadan: Fasting and your health

25 Jun 2015
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The holy month of Ramadan is here and are you looking for a great way to end your fast this Ramadan? The delicious meals at iftar is what all of us have our eyes on!

Traditionally, there is an emphasis on providing bountiful meals to celebrate this special month. The women of the house toil for hours preparing scrumptious meals for family and friends.

Ramadan isn't always thought of as being an opportunity to lose weight because the spiritual aspect is emphasized more generally than the health aspect. However, it's a great chance to get the physical benefits as well.

Prolonged fasting for a very long period of time leads to the breaking down of muscle proteins to release energy, which is very unhealthy for the body.

So, all you have to do is prepare and eat food made from fresh ingredients, cooked in a healthy manner for a nutritious Iftar meal. This will keep you nourished while setting a good example for your family and friends.

So, let's consider these options to start planning your Iftar evenings. During Ramadan, you need to put extra effort into including foods from all five food groups to ensure variety and a well-balanced diet.

 

Ramadan Foods include:

  • Breads, cereals and other grain products
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Meat, fish and poultry
  • Milk, cheese and yoghurt
  • Fats, oils and sugars (these contain very little nutrients and are high in calories and therefore their intake should be limited)

Suhoor:

Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, should be a wholesome, moderate meal that is filling and provides enough energy for many hours. It is therefore particularly important to include slowly-digesting foods, so as to delay pangs.Foods like oats, millets, beans, lentils, bran, figs, prunes can be consumed. Drink fluids to keep you hydrated during the day and assist with digestion.

Ideal Suhoor Meals:

  1. Oat meal with fruits, nuts and 1 mug tea/ green tea / coffee
  2. 1 multigrain egg white and veggie sandwich + 1 glass chilled milk with 1 tsp soaked chia seeds and almonds
  3. 2 chapatis + 1 katori subji + 1 katori curds.
  4. 1 bowl muesli + milk , cut fruits and 4 walnuts

 

 

Iftar:

Iftar is the meal which breaks the day's fast. This meal could include dates which will provide a refreshing burst of much-needed energy. Incorporate protein-rich sources such as egg whites, legumes, and low-fat dairy products. Wholemeal bread, brown rice or whole grain noodles are complex carbohydrates that provide the body with energy, fiber, and minerals. Make sure you have 1 serving of fruit and 1 serving of vegetable at each of your two meals.

The meal should remain a meal and not become a feast! Try to minimize the rich special dishes that traditionally celebrate the fast and keep to the advice included in the table below.

Alternative healthy food options for Iftar:

  • Baked samosas and boiled dumplings
  • Chapattis/parathas made without oil
  • Low- fat milk-based sweets and puddings/ chia fruit pudding/ fruit custard/quinoa parfait
  • Fattoush (salad made of vegetables and pita bread)
  • Tabbouleh (salad made with fresh tomatoes, parsley, garlic and bulgur wheat.)
  • Lavash (soft, thin cracker bread) with hummus
  • Chana chaat , fruit chaat
  • Mujadarra (dish made with rice and lentils)
  • Ful Medammes(fava beans cooked with garlic and spread on bread)
  • Grilled chicken/ Barbequed chicken/ chicken kebabs/ fish kebabs
  • Ragda chaat/ chole chaat/ chana chaat
  • Smoothies/ Refreshment drink 

 

FOODS TO AVOID:

  • Deep fried foods- Pakoda, samosas, fried dumplings, kebabs, etc
  • High sugar and added sugar foods- Sweets/ desserts like Gulab jamoon, rasagulla,balushai,         baklawa,pastries, jams, jellies, candies, syrup drenched desserts, etc
  • High-fat dairy products- Ice-creams, cheese, oily parathas, creamy cheese sauces, etc
  • Fast foods- Pizza, burgers, etc
  • Greasy cooked foods- Oil-rich curries, French fries, etc
  • Highly salted foods- Pickles, salted chips, etc
  • Fried meats and meat products- Haleem, hot dogs, Hamburgers, tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, etc
  • Fast-burning foods- Pasta, white bread, chocolates, cookies, etc
  • Heavily processed foods- Sausages, juices with added sugar, fruit preserves, etc
  • Carbonated beverages- Cola, energy drinks, etc
  • Caffeine based beverages- Coffee, tea

 

Common mistakes at Iftar that have a negative impact on health & weightloss:

1. Drinking large amounts of water at Iftar time

Impact: Filling the stomach with water is more strenuous to it than with the food.

Solution: Can have few sips during Iftar. Later, a glass full of water every two hours.

2. Drinking Roohafza on daily basis

Impact: It contains high amounts of added sugars, preservatives,and food colors.

Solution: Can be consumed twice a week if required.

3.Chewing and swallowing food quickly

Impact: Increases unhealthy weight gain and slows down the digestion process.

Solution: Chewing food slowly will speed up digestion and helps in maintaining the healthy weight.

4. Consuming foods high in sodium

Impact: Sodium triggers thirst throughout the fasting hours of the day.

Solution: Consume foods dense in potassium as they retain water and suppress thirst. Banana can be consumed during Suhoor, so as to control thirst levels throughout the day. Other foods such as milk, dates, avocados, pistachios, dried peaches, pumpkin, peas and dark chocolates (in minimum amounts) can be consumed.

5. Intake of sweets/desserts soon after Iftar

Impact: Leaves you feeling drowsy and sleepy. 

Solution: Wait for two hours of having Iftar meal to stay fresh and awake for Isha Prayers.

6. Exercising directly after Iftar

Impact: Adverse effects on blood flow as it is concentrated around the stomach during Iftar. 

Solution: To ease digestion, work out after two hours of intake.

 

1. Cooking methods to avoid:

Deep frying

Frying/ excessive use of oil

 

2. Healthy cooking methods:

Shallow frying

Steaming, grilling or baking is healthier and helps retain the taste and original flavor of the food.

With such an assorted list of food available for you to choose from and with a better view of your choices this Ramadan; you now hold the key to a nutritious diet. Just remember, it's not a good idea to fast and then feast. Whatever you decide to eat, a balanced food plan containing healthy ingredients, cooked right will help you enjoy Suhoor And Iftar while giving you good health and more energy.

 

Ramadan Diet Plan to Lose Weight

Meal Timings

Menu

On rising

1 tsp wheat grass powder in 1 Glass warm water 

OR

1 tsp  methi seeds soaked overnight [swallow the seeds]

Suhoor

1 bowl sugarfree muesli with milk / oats porridge/ 2 egg whites with 1 multi grain toast / 1 bowl sabji/salad + 2 chapati + 1 bowl dal/curds/chicken

Iftar

1 date + 1 bowl mixed fruits/ fruit chaat OR 1 bowl chole/ragda chaat/chana chaat OR 1 bowl leafy salad + 2 chicken kebab/ fish kebab/ chicken shaslik/grilled chicken

Dinner

1 bowl salad/sabji + 2 chapati/ rice + 1 bowl curds/dal/chicken OR 1 frankie/ wrap/ shawarma + 1 glass refreshment drink OR

1 bowl oats haleem/ daliya haleem + glass of buttermilk OR chicken biryani/ fish pulav + bowl of curds/veg raita

Bed time

1 cup Milk with pinch of haldi

 



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