The blessed month of fasting is upon the Muslims again and the summer days are just starting as we get into this blessed month. Ramadhan is a month where Muslims fast (do not eat or drink) from dusk til dawn. It is a month where Muslims learn to exercise their self-control, refresh and reflect on their life; spiritually and physically.
With the days getting longer and the nights getting shorter it can be difficult to maintain our health and strength. This is why it is even more important to make sure we eat and drink healthily making sure we keep our body’s energy and fuel topped up with the right foods and drinks.
Some people try to use this month to lose excess weight or to refresh their diet. But sometimes we deviate from these goals, getting distracted by our lack of time and lack of strength and motivation.
Here are some tips to help you keep yourself on track and how to keep health this Ramadhan:
- Make a meal plan for the whole month. You can do this weekly if you want but plan ahead what you are going to eat and drink at suhoor and iftaar.
- Have plenty of fluids; water, fresh fruit juice, smoothies, milkshakes. Just go easy on the sugar and skip the cream, use honey or sweetener instead. Also, use fruits which are naturally sweet.
- Do not skip Suhoor. We need to make sure we are having food to fuel us for the day. This does not mean have an excess an amount of food. Remember we need to exercise our hunger and cravings in this month but ensure you have enough to keep your strength to go about your daily chores and spiritual needs.
- Focus on your main meal and skip the starter if you feel you can’t eat enough at Iftaar.
- Try to not make too many changes to your eating habits. As the timings of the meals will be changed, which can bring about discomforts like; constipation, acid reflux, heartburn, headaches, migraines, stress, dehydration.
- If you are struggling you may want to consider taking supplements. But please do consult your doctor first.
- Skip or limit fried savouries. Have healthy baked, grilled savouries instead. Here are some healthy starters to help you skip the fried stuff!:
o Baked samosas, spring rolls.
o Pastries made with filo pastry or rice paper.
o Grilled skewers; prawns, chicken, meat, fish.
o Fruit salads
o Yoghurt with fruit and granola
o Mezze; hummus, low-fat herb and garlic cream cheese, roasted aubergine dip, - with breadsticks, toasted pitta bread, toast, ryvita, melba toast.
o Stuffed aubergines (or even tomatoes) – stuff with cous cous, minced meat/chicken, salad and cheese.
Below I have included an example of a meal plan that you can follow. You can adjust to your own tastes and you can add more food if you feel it is not enough, but try and keep it healthy.
Suhoor: A bowl of porridge with grated apple or pears and semi-skimmed milk, one slice of toast with some flaked toasted almonds and a drizzle of honey.
Iftar: Pitta bread with chicken, salad and hummus and one small bowl of rice pudding topped with crushed nuts.
Suhoor: Wheat-based cereal with milk and sliced bananas, a plain scone or crumpet.
Iftar: Boiled rice with chicken or vegetable curry and mixed salad, followed by fruit salad with fat-free yoghurt topped with toasted oats/granola.
Suhoor: Scrambled egg with 2 wholemeal toast and a glass of orange juice.
Iftar: Fish baked with roasted vegetables, or fish curry with rice followed by
Suhoor: 2 wholemeal toasts with sliced bananas and honey followed by a small bowl of semolina dessert topped with dried fruit and crushed almonds.
Iftar: Pasta cooked with vegetables, chicken or fish, and a slice of plain cake with custard.
I hope you have learnt something new and carry some of these healthy tips with you during the blessed month. I pray we all have a lovely Ramadhan, remember the whole Ummah in your prayers, as well my family and me.
A H Nutritionist
8th July 2013