Fasting in the month of Ramazan is not an easy task, and even if you are healthy, you need to recognise the fact that Ramazan will take a toll on your health if you aren't cautious. Fasting becomes more rigorous during the long and hot summer days as one may be required to observe the fast for as many as sixteen hours or even more. This is why it is essential to ensure consumption of adequate nutrition and to follow a guideline that contributes to your good health. During these thirty days, our diet should not differ very much from our normal diet and should be kept simple and healthy. The diet should be such that we maintain our normal weight, neither losing nor gaining. You also need to plan your schedule and meals ahead of time in order to make sure you get the nutrients, hydration, and rest that you need. Read on to find out more tips that will help you lead a healthy and happy Ramazan.
What to eat and what not to eat...
The most important tip to remember throughout Ramazan is to be aware of what you are eating and what you aren't eating. First and foremost, limit the fat intake. Don't cut it out completely as it is almost impossible to ignore all the yummy iftari and it will become difficult for you to get rid of what's considered 'traditional' iftar food.
Due to lack of eating for long hours, in Ramazan the digestive enzymes that break down food in our gut are also produced less, that's why we become bloated after the usual fat infused iftar meals. Pizza places and other restaurants have all you can eat deals but they know the limitations of a person's body. Please go easy on your gut and don't load it with fatty foods in your glutton rage and avoid gorging yourself when breaking the fast at sunset. Instead start with dates, milk, water, or fruit juice. After the maghrib prayer, continue with a light starter such as soup and crackers. After a long period of fasting, you need to bring your fluids and blood sugar level up without overdoing it.
In view of the long hours of fasting, we should consume slow-digesting foods including fibre-containing foods rather than fast-digesting foods. Slow digesting foods last up to 8 hours, while fast digesting foods last for only 3 to 4 hours.
Slow-digesting foods are those that contain grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour, unpolished rice, etc. Fast-burning foods contain sugar, white flour, etc.
Fibre-containing foods are bran-containing foods, whole wheat, grains and seeds, vegetables like green beans, peas, marrow, spinach, and other herbs like methie, the leaves of beetroot (iron-rich), fruit with skin, dried fruit especially dried apricots, figs and prunes, almonds, etc. Fried foods should be limited as they cause indigestion, heartburn and other problems.
One also has to make sure that all the food eaten is well balanced, containing foods from each food group, i.e. fruits, vegetables, meat/chicken/fish, bread/cereals and dairy products. This diet will help get rid of health issues such as constipation, low blood pressure, heartburn and headaches.
For sehri specifically one should avoid over-eating. Consume complex carbohydrates at sehri so that the food lasts longer and makes you less hungry. Haleem is an excellent source of protein and is a slow-burning food, whereas dates are excellent source of sugar, fibre, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium. Focus on taking in foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates and protein such as fruits and vegetables. Last but not least, have as much water as you can and you will remain fresh throughout the day.
However, the most important thing to remember for the sehri meal is that one should avoid consuming too much tea. This is because tea causes one to pass more urine, taking with it valuable mineral salts that your body would need during the day.
Weight loss in Ramazan
A lot of people look forward to weight loss during this month and the goal is achievable if one is serious about it. Following a diet plan can be easy in this month if you choose the right things to eat. Spare the two samosay, five pakoray and three jalebis every day and go for fish, chicken or red meat. A low-carb, low-fat, and moderate-protein diet for iftar and dinner will always result in your body losing stores of fat from the love handles.
Most people quit going to the gym as soon as Ramazan starts because they don't want to exert themselves. However, Ramazan is actually one of the best times to work out. You can go for a 20 minute walk, jog or a quick run; it will help in keeping your body healthy. You'll find yourself in better shape after Ramazan ends. Also, people who work out and exercise regularly have higher levels of endorphins, giving you a feeling of well being and strength.
After maghrib have a healthy and balanced dinner. Do not overeat, and be sure to drink a few more glasses of fluids. Aim for 8 glasses of water by bedtime.
Speak to your doctor about an appropriate multivitamin.