Food For Thought Friday: Healthy Eating in Ramadan

Friday, 3 May 2019

So as you guys may or may not know, I graduated in BSc Human Nutrition almost a decade ago and even though I talk more about beauty, I do feel super passionate about health still too.. and the fact there's a lot more misinformation around now with social media and no real verification of influencers giving dietary advice.

Despite the fact I did graduate in Nutrition, I'm not a registered nutritionist nor have I practiced; which is why I don't openly give advice as I take giving health advice very seriously as it could impact someone's life massively!

It really does concern me that many influencers think it's ok to give unqualified dietary/health advice especially as everyone wants a quick fix and will follow someone on social media thinking it will work for them too, but it's not that simple as each of our bodies are different and therefore we should be careful copying diets and advice, particularly if it tells you to cut out whole food groups/products (unless of course you are intolerant or have specific health issues).

Anyway I wanted to introduce a "Food For Thought Friday" post this week in prep for Ramadan as many of us particularly in South Asian culture tend to go overboard with food in compensation for the fasting hours, so I've asked a registered Nutritionist friend to guest post for us today sharing her advice and tips which I hope will be of value!

Healthy Eating during Ramadan

Salaam everyone!
Firstly, thank you to Safiyah for kindly allowing me to contribute to her lovely blog, slightly different topic to what is usually shared but hope it will be beneficial to some.
Ramadan is just around the corner and no better time than now to start reflecting on our eating habits, to prepare us for the lengthy fasts.
The spiritual mindset that we aim to maintain during this month allows us to stay disciplined and focused in trying to improve on ourselves mentally and physically.
Ramadan gives us the opportunity to make healthier lifestyle choices by adopting a balanced and nutritious diet.
There are many benefits to fasting, one being it helps relieve and strengthen the digestive system while increasing its efficiency. However, due to the abundance of foods that are prepared, it is easy to indulge. As food and fluid intake is restricted during the day, it’s important to eat intuitively to make sure that everything you consume counts and will replenish the body’s energy stores after a day’s fast.

What to Eat and Drink at Iftar
 
  • Drinks - water, limit fruit juices and smoothies to 150ml/day. Avoid drinks with added sugars.
  • 2-3 dates, dried apricots, figs or prunes are a natural source of fibre, natural sugars and provide minerals.
  • Fruit of any kind will provide natural sugars, vitamins, minerals, fibre and fluid.
  • Soups – can be meat although vegetable-based with pulses (lentils and beans) is better to increase fibre intake and reduce constipation.
  • Slow energy-releasing foods such as wholegrain pasta and rice.
  • A variety is important - a balance of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, proteins such as meat/fish/chicken/pulses and dairy (milk, yoghurt).
  • Try to keep the salty or deep fried ‘high saturated fat’ foods to a minimum.
  • Snacks - unsalted nuts (i.e. walnuts - great source of omega- 3 - good fats), dried fruit for energy boost in the long late nights.
  • Think about alternatives: swap sweet pastries or cakes with fruit and natural yoghurt.
  • Bake/grill instead of frying. Olive oil instead of butter.
  • Portion sizes - try to stick to moderate portions with the majority of your plate consisting of foods rich in fibre such as grains and vegetables.

What to Eat and Drink at Suhoor
Slow-digesting foods that are high in protein and fibre will help provide the body enough energy to last for a good few hours. Some great examples of these are oats, and whole wheat foods like barley, brown rice, buckwheat and whole wheat bread or pasta.
  • Oats – porridge with milk/water, muesli with milk/yoghurt. Use fresh/dried fruit, nuts or seeds as toppings.
  • High fibre breakfast cereals with milk provide fluid, calcium, B vitamins and minerals.
  • Rice or couscous – rice pudding with fruit, have a couscous salad or other grains with dairy or fruit.
  • If you are having something savoury, make sure it is not too salty.
  • Yoghurt can be a food and fluid providing vitamins, minerals and protein.
  • Breads – try with nut butters without added salt, soft cheese or banana. Bread is dry so make sure you have lots of fluid with it or with lentil soup. Avoid combing it with salty foods like hard cheese or preserved meats.
Hydration

From iftar till the end of suhoor, it’s important to maintain hydrated as you have endured
long hours without any fluids. To help with the symptoms of dehydration, it’s recommended
to drink plenty of water. However, avoid drinking large quantities of water, rather take small sips with your meal drink in small quantities throughout the non-fasting hours. By doing this, it will also help the body store more water for the next day.
  • Drinking whilst eating will actually help balance your food intake and avoid overeating.
  • Drinking an extreme amount in a short time can be dangerous. It can cause the level of salt, or sodium, in your blood to drop too low. You will also find that drinking too many fluids in a short space of time will lead to frequent urination and this can be a nuisance during prayer!
  • You can also increase your fluid intake by consuming foods that contain a significant amount of water as shown in the table below
  • Fluids and fluid-rich foods will rehydrate the body after mild dehydration and help reduce constipation. These foods and drinks will also resolve headaches, tiredness, difficulty concentrating and dizziness.


Percentage
Food Item
100%
Water
90–99%
Skimmed milk, melon, strawberries, watermelon, lettuce, cabbage, celery, spinach, pickles, squash (cooked)
80–89%
Fruit juice, yogurt, apples, grapes, oranges, carrots, broccoli (cooked), pears, pineapple


Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I hope it has been useful. In sha Allah
Ramadan benefits you spiritually and physically and is a blessed month for you.

Nazmin x

For more information:
https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/seasons/ramadan.html
Iftar picture source: https://www.shutterstock.com/search/iftar
Suhoor picture source: https://beabettermuslim.com/top-10-tips-to-stay-fit-and-healthy-during-ramadan/


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