With long summer days of fasting during Ramadan, extra precautions need to be taken to stay healthy throughout this month. The duration of fasting is quite long and will undoubtedly test your will, strength and determination, but with the right combination of diet, sleep and exercise, your body would not suffer. In fact, it would be an opportunity to leave the bad eating habits behind and lose a few pounds for a healthier lifestyle.
During the fasting hours when no food or drink is consumed, the body first uses its store of carbohydrates and later fat to provide energy. When the body has less food, it starts to burn fat leading to the loss of weight. Fasting preserves your muscles and lowers the cholesterol level. But if you don’t eat the right amount of food and a balanced diet, it can have an adverse effect on your body. Overeating could also lead to weight gain. Therefore, moderation is the key and the secret to a healthy and balanced Iftar or Suhoor. It is also vital to drink enough water during the non-fasting hours to maintain the hydration. Unfortunately, most people forget to drink enough water and only drink a few glasses of water during Suhoor and Iftar. Water plays an important role in weight loss and getting rid of toxins from the body.
Our diet is radically altered during Ramadan since we eat only at Suhoor and Iftar. So it becomes extremely important that we follow a well-balanced diet and include items from all food groups such as meat, dairy, vegetables and fruits. Below are some of the things to avoid eating during Iftar and Suhoor for a healthy Ramadan.
Food that You Should Avoid Eating During Iftar and Suhoor
Processed or Junk Food: Processed food seems convenient but these are always filled with unhealthy high fructose corn syrup, MSG, sodium and heart-clogging oils. It is always a good idea to avoid junk food, and items like chips and candies should not be used as side dishes. These are basically void of any nutrient and would not do much good to the body. Instead, opt for locally-grown fruits and vegetables from a farmer’s market.
Fried and Sugary Food: Fried food is high on oil and that makes it harder for digestion. It is not easy to avoid eating fried stuff in Ramadan and we all love our Samosas and Empanadas but instead of deep-frying in hot oil, you can bake them. Also, try to hold off desserts and sugary drinks to avoid sugar crashes later in the day. Instead, use organic honey or natural raw cane sugar in place of white sugar or just eat fruits.
Refined Carbohydrates: While we love a bowl of pasta, hefty portions of potatoes and rice, these are all carbohydrates which we should avoid especially in Ramadan. These are not only less nutritious but also get converted into sugar and takes a toll on your body after you’ve finished eating them. Instead, have complex carbohydrates such as whole-wheat bread with protein-rich food like beans, eggs or meat.
Tips for a Healthy Suhoor and Iftar
- Have energy-boosting food at Suhoor which undoubtedly is the most important meal of the day. Opt for high-protein, high-fibre and complex carbohydrate food to keep you going throughout the whole day. Eat fruits and vegetables with high water content like cucumber, tomatoes, oranges and watermelon to provide hydration to the body through food as well.
- Keep yourself well-hydrated for the day by drinking enough water during the non-fasting hours. Drink at least 8 glasses of water and divide it accordingly between the time of Suhoor and Iftar. Avoid spicy food and caffeinated drinks which will only make you thirsty during the day.
- Sleep on time and keep yourself busy throughout the day. Stay active and keep your daily routine as normal as possible. Do not disrupt your schedule due to lack of food. Staying active and immersed in your daily routine will only help you pass the day easily.
- Do not skip your regular exercise just because you are observing the fast. Stopping your daily exercise session will only reduce the flow of energy to the body making you sluggish. Instead, reduce the intensity of your workout. Avoid exercising immediately after the Iftar.
- Break your fast slowly and lightly. It is always a good idea to avoid going all out during Iftar. Eat nutritious food in moderate portions. It is better to eat every two hours post Iftar than eating just everything at the same time on Iftar.
Fasting in Ramadan can improve your health on a major level but only if done in a proper way. It is important to exercise self-control when you see an appetizing meal. You should remember that Ramadan is a month to reap rewards and increase your spiritual connection with Allah (SWT).