The holy month of Ramadan is the time of the year when capable healthy Muslims practice fasting for religious purposes. Fasting in Ramadan starts from dawn till dusk. Throughout the fasting hours, Muslims cannot eat or drink any type of food or beverage. However, there are two common meals in Ramadan days within the non-fasting hours, in which practicing Muslims can have their meal. These two meals are known as Iftar or breaking the fast meal, and Suhoor; knowns as the pre-dawn meal.
Fasting has scientifically been proven to have a lot of health benefits. And many people see Ramadan as an opportunity to become healthier versions of themselves. Yet, that is a challenge considering that Ramadan in a lot of Arab societies is the month of feasts; which defeats the purpose of fasting; and leaves a lot of people with even worse health problems than before Ramadan. This Holy Month also has the purpose of showing dedication, self-control, self-discipline, and compassion with the less fortunate. It is recommended to try to keep these rituals out of fasting hours. When practicing Ramadan the correct way, one can actually sense improving health benefits.
The following are healthy options and tips to consider when you’re breaking your fast for better health.
1- Start right with your suhoor:
The main purpose of suhoor to provide your body with the needed energy to help you last long and active until Iftar time. Consider taking in some complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and whole grains. Complex carbs make it easy to keep a stable weight and can also protect against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular complications in the future. You can also indulge a few unsaturated fats such as avocado, nuts, olive oils, and vegetable oils such as canola. If you feel like adding some dairy products; make sure they’re low in fat.
2- Have a balanced Iftar:
Traditionally, and following the steps of the prophet Mohammed; people usually tend to break their fast with some dates and/or some yogurt. When it comes to the main course, it should contain enough protein coming from meat, skinless chicken, or fish either grilled or baked. Include nutrients and vitamins in your iftar through adding vegetables. Veggies can be so tasty too; they don’t have to be boring. You should avoid huge intakes of fiber, but make sure to get some by including whole grains in your meal; this will provide you with the needed energy boost. Make sure you eat your food slowly in order to avoid eating more than what your body needs. Always be creative with your meals and don’t be afraid to try new things!
3- Keep yourself hydrated:
Since you cannot drink water while fasting, you should have your daily intake of water in the time between iftar and suhoor. Especially if Ramadan comes in the summer months or if you live in countries where the temperature is always high; you will be losing amounts of water from your body all day; for example, through sweating. Thus, you have to make it up when you are not fasting by gradually drinking about 10 glasses of water. Some people tend to drink water only before they start fasting, and that won’t help with either thirst or staying hydrated. You can also eat some hydrating foods to keep you fresh. For example, eating watermelon, cucumbers, and tomatoes is advised. Try to avoid soda or fizzy drinks as these are usually not healthy options and will increase your caloric intake. Also, try to cut down on drinks that contain caffeine; since caffeine usually leads to more frequent urination and accordingly, dehydration.