The Holy Month of Ramadan influences our daily routines including sleep and eating patterns. Many of us respond by over-eating or not getting enough sleep, which can lead to health issues. Here we take a look at the principles of healthy eating in Ramadan.
Drink lots of water
This may seem like the most obvious point, but it can’t be stressed enough–proper hydration is essential. Headaches, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and irritability are often caused by
The US Institute of Medicine advises that men consume roughly 3 liters (two large bottles of water) a day and women consume 2.2 liters (about 1 and a half large bottle of water).
Consuming this amount of water in Ramadan can be done by steadily taking in water between Iftar and Suhoor (on average 1 glass an hour).
Don’t skip suhoor/sehri
Breakfast (suhoor) is the most important meal of the day for a reason. Suhoor in Ramadan provides the essential nutrients and energy needed for concentration while keeping keeping headaches, fatigue, sleepiness and restlessness at bay. In addition, it stimulates our metabolic rates–necessary for fighting fat and high blood sugar levels.
Consume slow digesting foods
Focus on consuming slow-digesting foods such as complex carbohydrates. These include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains, as well as, unpolished rice.
Complex carbohydrates should be a major part of your diet; about half of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates — mostly from grains, cereals, fruits and vegetables. Only a few of your daily calories should come from simple carbohydrates like table sugar(1).
Why is all this important for Ramadan? Slow digesting foods last up to 8 hours, while fast-digesting foods last for only 3 to 4 hours–which means you will get hungry sooner!
Consume fiber-rich foods
Fiber-containing foods are bran-containing foods, whole wheat, grains and seeds, vegetables like green beans, peas, sem (papry), marrow, mealies, spinach, and other herbs like methie, the leaves of beetroot (iron-rich), fruit with skin, dried fruit especially dried apricots, figs and prunes, as well as, almonds.
Fiber-rich foods help keep you regular (especially since your eating routine changes in Ramadan), but also, help clean toxins from your system.
Eat slowly and don’t over eat
Taking small bites, eating slowly and chewing well will help prevent indigestion, bloating and feeling overstuffed. This is because the longer we chew tour food, the less work our digestive system has to do, and we absorb more nutrients.
- Fried and fatty foods–these over burden your digestive system and make you gain weight.
- Foods containing too much sugar–this leads to other health problems such as elevated sugar levels which leads to diabetes and heart disease.
- Over eating especially at suhoor–eating too much before going to bed leads to higher fat stored in the body.
- Too much tea and soft drinks–this has the opposite effect of hydration by making you pass more urine and robbing your body of valuable mineral salts needed during the day.
- Smoking cigarettes and shisha–its just plain bad for you.
Eat more of
- Complex carbohydrates–so that the food lasts longer making you less hungry.
- High protein foods–like eggs as proteins are a slow-burning food.
- Dates–excellent source of sugar, fiber, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium.
- Almonds–rich in protein and fiber.
- Bananas–good source of potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates.
- Water–3 liters for men and 2.2 for women (or more).