With the holy month of Ramadan upon us, many people of the Muslim faith are fasting from sunrise to sunset in Qatar and throughout the world. According to Kim Underwood, Sidra Specialist Dietician, “For many, this month can be the most challenging time to keep track of what we eat, as numerous feasts with family and friends fill the social calendar. We forget that, in fact, this time can be used to reflect and review your daily eating habits and work on self-discipline, all with the aim of working towards a healthier body, mind and soul through fasting and a change of routine.”
When done properly, fasting can even be good for your health. Read on for our tips on how to stay healthy during Ramadan.
1) Get the nutrients your body needs in the pre-dawn and dusk meals. To prevent muscle breakdown, make sure that your meals contain enough energy food, such as complex carbohydrates and some fat. In general, foods that promote blood sugar balance, such as fiber and protein-rich foods, promote slow-release, longer-lasting energy than processed foods.
2) Time your meals well. Eat suhoor, the meal consumed in the early morning, just prior to dawn. Although it may be hard to wake up this early, fueling your body before dawn will help carry you throughout the day.
3) Know hunger and know satiety. Satiety is the feeling of fullness. Not the type of fullness that you feel when you have eaten so much you want to explode, but rather the point when you are just satisfied and can comfortably stand. We are born with this ‘sense’ of satiety and you can observe this most clearly in children when they shake their heads to let us know they have eaten enough. Over the years we override this, forcing food down when we don’t need it. How do you bring it back? Eat slowly, chew your food and taste each bite. Enjoy your food. A meal should take about 20-30 minutes to eat. Slowing down gives your stomach time to ’feel’ the food and send feedback to your brain.
4) Avoid over-eating. Building on our previous tip, if you know satiety, you’ll be less likely to over-eat. Although you may be tempted to eat a large amount of food very quickly when you break the fast after sunset, try to eat slowly to ensure that you don’t take in more than your body needs.
5) Stay hydrated. When you’re not drinking throughout the day, it’s important that you drink water throughout the evening to stay hydrated. One way to keep track of how much water you’re drinking is to set a target and then fill a water bottle with a measured amount of water. We also often eat unnecessarily because we are thirsty, not hungry, so reach for a glass of water before you reach for a snack.
Looking for more guidance on healthy eating during Ramadan? Check out this healthy Ramadan meal plan. If you have any questions regarding your health during Ramadan, speak with a healthcare professional.
Ramadan Kareem from all of us here at Sidra.