A Healthy Ramzan: Know What To Eat during Fasting Month
The holy month of Ramzan is here and are you looking for a great way to end your fast in Ramzan? The delicious meals at iftar are what all of us have our eyes on!
Traditionally there is an emphasis on providing bountiful meals to celebrate this special month. The women of the house toil for hours preparing scrumptious meals for family and friends.
Muslims taking part in Ramadan do not eat or drink anything during daylight hours, eating one meal (the ‘suhoor’ or ‘sehri’) just before dawn and another (the ‘iftar’) after sunset. The end of Ramadan is marked by ‘Eid-ul-Fitr’, the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. A special celebratory meal is eaten during the festival, the first daytime meal for a month.
Ramzan isn’t always thought of as being an opportunity to lose weight because the spiritual aspect is emphasized more generally than the health aspect. However, it’s a great chance to get physical benefits as well.
Prolonged fasting for a very long period of time leads to the breaking down of muscle proteins to release energy, which is very unhealthy for the body.
Here are sample ideas below that will help you to know what to eat during Ramzan:
Suhoor or Seheri, is the pre-dawn meal and it should be a wholesome, moderate meal that is filling and provides enough energy for many hours. It is therefore particularly important to include slowly-digesting foods, so as to delay pangs.
Foods like oats, millets, beans, lentils, bran, figs, prunes can be consumed. Drink fluids to keep you hydrated during the day and assist with digestion.
- Oats – These are wholegrain and you can choose porridge, which will also provide fluids as it’s made with milk or water, muesli with milk or yogurt or overnight oats. You could experiment with fresh or dried fruit, nuts, or seeds as toppings.
- High fiber breakfast cereals – These provide plenty of fiber and are often fortified with vitamins and minerals, providing extra nutrients. Because they are consumed with milk, you also get fluid and nutrients like calcium, iodine, and b vitamins from the milk.
- Starchy foods like rice, or couscous – You could try rice pudding with fruit or experiment with couscous or other grains with dairy or fruit. If you go for savory dishes at suhoor then it’s a good idea to make sure these are not too salty or they make you very thirsty during the fast.
- Yogurt – This can be a good food to include at suhoor as it provides nutrients like protein, calcium, iodine, and b vitamin and also contains fluids. You could combine it with cereal and fruit as in the examples above.
- Bread – Go for wholegrain options as these provide more fiber, for example, wholemeal toast or chapattis. Avoid combining bread with salty foods like hard cheese, or preserved meats. You could try nut butter (without added salt), soft cheese, or bananas. As bread is fairly dry, make sure you drink plenty of water or other fluids alongside or you could have fluid-rich foods such as lentil soup, which is a traditional food at suhoor in some countries.
Iftar is the meal that breaks the day’s fast. This meal could include dates that will provide a refreshing burst of much-needed energy. Incorporate protein-rich sources such as egg whites, legumes, low-fat dairy products. Wholemeal bread, brown rice, or whole-grain noodles are complex carbohydrates that provide the body with energy, fiber, and minerals. Make sure you have 1 serving of fruit and 1 serving of vegetables at each of your two meals.
- Drinks – Water, milk, fruit juices, or smoothies – water provides hydration without any extra calories or added sugars. Drinks based on milk and fruit provide some natural sugars and nutrients – these are also good to break the fast but avoid drinking a lot of drinks with added sugars after breaking the fast as these can provide too many sugars and calories.
- Dates – Traditionally eaten to break the fast since the time of the Prophet Muhammed, a date is a great way to break the fast as they provide natural sugars for energy, provide minerals like potassium, copper, and manganese, and is a source of fiber. You could also try other dried fruits such as apricots, figs, raisins, or prunes, which also provide fiber and nutrients.
- Fruit – A traditional in many Arab countries, is a light way to break the fast and provides natural sugars for energy, fluid, and some vitamins and minerals.
- Soup – Traditional in many countries, it is a light way to break the fast and provides fluid. Traditional soups are based on a meat broth and often contain pulses, like lentils and beans, and starchy foods like pasta or grains, providing nutrients and energy.
After breaking the fast – meals vary between different cultures and traditions but try to make sure the foods you eat provide a balance of starchy foods, including wholegrain where you can, fruit and vegetables, dairy foods, and protein-rich foods like meat, fish, eggs, and beans.