In a follow up post from our first blog series dedicated to fasting during Ramadan, the nutrition team at Sidra share tips on how to avoid overeating, some tips for satisfying your sweet tooth and setting a good example for your children.
Food is often a central part of the bonding process during Ramadan as families, neighbors, and friends gather to break their fast together. Unfortunately, there are instances when people indulge in excessive amounts of unhealthy food leading to wastage and overeating. This not only takes away from Ramadan’s theme of self-discipline and restraint, but promotes overeating and unhealthy food habits in children.
This Ramadan, there will be many adolescent children who will be fasting or trying to maintain a few fasts for the first time. This is why as parents and role-models, it is important to promote healthy eating habits from a young age. If children are not mindful of their fullness cues when eating and consistently eat to the point that they are stuffed and uncomfortable, this can lead to problems with appetite and weight regulation that may continue to affect them into adulthood.
- Try to keep Iftar as a simple affair – break the fast with a few dates, a glass or two of water or laban and some fruit. This should take the edge off your children’s hunger and provide a quick energy boost and they can then pray Maghrib before returning to the table for dinner. This break in eating can help them to be more aware of their satiety level, and helps their bodies settle in to the process of eating.
- Try to keep dinner similar to what you would eat on any other day – a balanced plate containing whole grains, vegetables, and protein.
- Avoid fried and salty food as this can increase feelings of thirst the next day while you are fasting.
- Limit appetizers, fried foods, and heavy desserts at Iftar to no more than once a week, or not at all!
- Avoid highly sweet and sugary food as this can cause rapid fluctuations in blood sugar which can affect appetite control as well as mood stability. However if you or your children are craving something sweet, here are some good options to satisfy that sweet tooth:
- Snack on a handful of almonds and raisins. The raisins provide a nice amount of sweetness, and the almonds provide healthy fats and protein. Be careful to limit to just one portion (about 20-25 almonds and 2-3 tablespoons of raisins). Nuts and dried fruit are calorically dense foods, and too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing!
- Try making fruit smoothies with your children’s favorite fruit. Choose ripe and sweet fruit. Try ripe banana, orange juice, and pineapple chunks for a refreshing combination. You can also freeze blended fruit mixes in popsicle molds for a fun cold treat.
- Spread a tablespoon of peanut butter on a slice of whole wheat bread and drizzle 1-2 teaspoons of honey on top.
Remember, you are responsible for what your children eat, and they will look to you to set a good example.