Ramadan is finally here! And these healthy Ramadan tips will help you maintain a better lifestyle, while fasting during this holy month.
While our focus should be on building closeness to God, it’s essential to be mindful of the food you consume.
We refrain from food for an average of 12-14 hours a day. Due to this, it’s essential that when we eat, we give our body the nutrients it deserves and avoid food that drain our energy levels.
As such, in recent times, Intermittent fasting has been growing in popularity by health enthusiasts for it’s various benefits.
And how beautiful is it! Fasting has been one of the pillars of Islam since the time of our beloved Prophet (pbuh).
Ramadan is not only abstinence from food, but it also acts as a mental and spiritual exercise, for us all. During this month we practice self-discipline, self-control and have higher empathy towards the less fortunate. We should all aim to gain Allah’s mercy and blessings during this time.
Applying these Ramadan tips will ensure you maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle which in turn will help you stay energetic, focused and motivated to achieve your other Ramadan goals.
Following are some dietician-approved tips that will help you stay healthy during Ramadan:
1. Do not Skip Suhoor
You may have heard this multiple times already and it’s true. Suhoor is the most important meal you will have during Ramadan.
The food you intake at this time, will provide you with the energy you need to get through the entire day. It’s essential to have a meal that is wholesome and high in nutrients.
Fruits and vegetables, beans, chickpeas and lentils, are considered to provide with a long-lasting source of energy. It is also encouraged to have low fat dairy products such as low fat Greek yoghurt and plenty of water to stay hydrated. If you are out of food ideas, try my Chia Seed Pudding recipe, it’s full of protein and fiber, perfect as an early breakfast meal.
Skipping Suhoor may feel tempting when you are craving for that uninterrupted sleep, but it will only lengthen your fasting period. This can be harmful to your health. Remember, Iftar is what replenishes us but Suhoor is what will sustain us.
And as our beloved Prophet (pbuh) advised, ” Take Suhoor, for in Suhoor, there is blessing.”
2. Hydrate yourself well
While breaking your fast, it is best to have a cup of water before starting your meal to give your body a quick dose of hydration.
Also, attempt to have at least 8-10 glasses of fluid from Iftar to Suhoor, minimizing your risk of being dehydrated while fasting. Fluids include not just water but also soups, juices, milk, beverages and also fruits and vegetables with higher water content.
Refreshing Salads with fruits like cucumber and tomatoes are considered to be quite hydrating. You should try out my Watermelon Fruit Chaat and/or my Broccoli-Grape Salad, I am sure you will enjoy them!
When it comes to beverages, avoid caffeine and sugary drinks. These drinks tend to counter the effect and in turn cause dehydration, and are filled with calories.
3. Have your Carbs, Proteins and Minerals
Don’t we all love a good variety of food? In both your main meals of the day ; Suhoor and Iftar, attempt to include complex carbohydrates, healthy proteins and fats, and food that has a good amount of vitamins and minerals.
Complex carbs is a good source of energy with fiber and minerals. Incorporate whole-grain based pasta or bread, brown rice and also potatoes.
Proteins on the other hand, help maintain muscle mass and and keeps us full. High quality proteins include milk, yogurt, eggs, cheese, meat, fish and poultry. Quinoa and Chia seeds are also good sources of protein. Apart from these, incorporate healthy unsaturated fats like avocado, unsalted nuts, salmon, olives and olive oil.
And this goes without saying, have your greens, eat your veggies and fruits, and most of all, enjoy what you put into your body!
4. Break your fast with the right food
Breaking our fast with fresh or dry dates and/or water is a Sunnah of our Prophet (pbuh). This is also a very healthy way to start our meal. Dates are a good source of natural sugar, fiber and help replenish our blood sugar levels.
It is then advised by many dieticians to have warm soups which comforts the tummy and also hydrates us. You can opt for lentil, tomato, or vegetable soup, depending on what suits you best. Avoid heavy cream-based soups.
Follow the soup with your main meal and/or appetizers that incorporates all the needed nutrients. You may also end with something sweet, but portion control, which we’ll be coming to next, is absolutely a key!
5. Control your portions
Be mindful of what and how much you put into your body. It’s essential that we do not overeat especially during Iftar. This is harmful to your body to have huge quantity of food all at once. It could lead to indigestion and gastric problems.
While I am sharing all these healthy Ramadan tips with you all, I am aware that most of our Iftar tables tend to sometimes have those irresistible must-have Ramadan items, which aren’t as healthy. You can always learn to make them in a healthier way but if not, limit your portions so that you aren’t consuming too much of unhealthy fats and sugar.
6. Avoid foods high in unhealthy fats, salt and sugar
I know it’s not always possible, but whenever you can, try to avoid food that are fried, have too many unhealthy fats, salt and/or sugar.
We all love samosa, pakoras, luqaimat, and so many other Ramadan delicacies. And while I think it is okay to allow yourself a treat every once in a while ( with control on your portion size ofcourse!), I also do think it’s great if you can find healthier ways to make your favourite Ramadan dishes.
A change of cooking methods can sometimes help. Instead of frying, you could instead stew, bake, roast, steam, grill or air-fry your dishes. You may also use lesser salt and add other spices to flavour them. For sweets, using natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup instead of processed sugar is helpful.
Also try curbing your cravings using healthier replacements. If you feel like having sweets or sweetened drinks, enjoy a bowl of your favourite naturally sweet fruits or juices. Listen to your body and most of all, Ramadan is a joyous month full of blessings so do celebrate mindfully!
I hope you found these Ramadan Food Tips helpful…Wishing you all a wholesome Ramadan!
This article is written based on talks I have had with Dubai based dieticians and is a summarization of a few online articles I trust and referred to: Article by dietician Racha Adib, Article by dietician Sonya Islam, Article on Cleveland Clinic AD website