Ramadan Tips | The Best (and worst) foods to eat

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A fair quarter of our world fasts in the holy month of Ramadan and abstain for any food or drink from dawn till dusk for 29-30 days.

You may also be planning to follow the diet pattern of intermittent fasting.

You know it is true that fried and sugary liquids taste even better after you break your fast. However, lets deep dive into the best and the worst food choices you can make outside of your fasting hours.

 

While fasting in Ramadan can be a great chance to eat healthy and control weight gain, the choices we make during Iftar and Suhoor meals turn out to be very counterproductive.

 

So what can we eat in Ramadan to stay healthy?

Short Answer: Have these types of meals if you are fasting

  • Complex Carbs

  • High Fibre foods

 

Short Answer: Avoid these types of meals if you are fasting

  • Diuretic foods

  • Foods that are not packed with enough energy to last until the end of your fast.

What types of food to have while Fasting

 

As a rule of thumb, you should a great mix of major food groups:

  1. Whole Fruits and Vegetables (Fibre and Sugar)

  2. Mutton, Chicken and Fish.

  3. Bread and Potatoes

  4. Milk and Cheese

  5. Fats and Sugars

  6. Lots of Water (No Fresh Fruit Juices please)

 

How to determine the best meals to have for Suhoor?

  • The pre-dawn meal marks the start of your fasting which is going to ideally last for the next 11 to 16 hours.

  • It is incumbent to have a meal that provides enough energy to your body throughout the day. This is key to a productive and energetic fast.

  • Between Iftar and Suhoor, snack on fresh whole fruits, plain nuts, plain yoghurt. This is to avoid having a tendency to snack on unhealthy snacks or having another meal before suhoor.

  • We need a meal that is

    • Packed with loads of energy to avoid hunger pangs (Proteins, Healthy Fats)

    • Releases energy slowly, throughout the day (Complex Carbs)

    • High in Fibre to avoid constipation

    • Keeps the body hydrated throughout the day

 

13 Best fulfilling meals to eat for Suhoor/Sehri (Pre-Dawn Meal) in Ramadan

 

  1. Brown Rice (Fibre, complex carbs)

  2. Beans (Fibre, complex carbs)

  3. Pasta (Fibre)

  4. Oats (Fibre, complex carbs)

  5. Whole Wheat breads (More fibre)

  6. High Fibre breakfast cereals (Fibre)

  7. Glass of Milk or Yoghurt (Protein,Calcium,b-vitamins)

  8. 60 gms of lean meat (Proteins)

  9. Two eggs (Proteins)

  10. Assorted Vegetables (Fibre)

  11. Avocado (Healthy Fats)

  12. Olives and Olive Oil (Healthy Fats)

  13. Tomatoes, Cucumber, Lettuce, Watermelon, Oranges, Two glasses of Water (Hydration)

 

How to determine the best meals to have for Iftar?

 

It was narrated that Anas Ibn Maalik said:

 

“The Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to break his fast before praying by eating fresh dates, and if there were no fresh dates he would eat dried dates; if there were no dried dates, he would have a few sips of water.”

(Sunan Abu Dawud, Book #13, Hadith #2349)

 

It is customary for Muslims to break the fast in the post-dusk meal (iftar) with Dates and Water, and for all the right reasons.

 

A mix of Dates and Water helps in restoring the salt and sugar levels of the body and rehydration of the system.

 

Dates are one of the best food items you can have while breaking the fast as they are very easy to digest for your body and make you feel full and avoid overeating. This is the best way to prepare your stomach for the upcoming meal that you are about to have.

 

The following sample plan along with considerable exercise will help you lose weight if you were having unhealthy routine earlier.

 

6 Best Meals to eat for Iftar (post-dusk meal) in Ramadan

 

  1. Dates and a glass of Water

  2. One Baked Samosa

  3. Go for Prayer while the electrolytes from consumed dates prepare your digestive system for the main course.

  4. A portion of

    1. Rice/Pasta Or

    2. Baked potato Or

    3. whole wheat bread

  5. Palm sized portion of lean chicken, meat or fish

  6. Two handfuls of non-starchy vegetables.

What makes a meal the worst choice for Suhoor?

  • A meal that does not provide enough energy to last until dusk.

  • A meal that facilitates in faster water loss through urination which leaves your body dehydrated mid-fast. Any food intake that causes diuresis (increased production of urine and excess loss of water from the body) are said to be Diuretic.

5 Worst types of meals to avoid eating for Suhoor in Ramadan

  1. Salty and salted foods like pickles, olives and canned foods are diuretic.

  2. Fatty, Fried and Spicy foods increases thirst.

  3. Sweets, sugary soda, energy drinks - empty calories with low nutritional value.

  4. Overeating anything during Suhoor causes metabolic imbalance leading to dehydration and sugar imbalance throughout the day.

  5. Caffeine - Tea/Coffee/Hibiscus - These are Diuretics.

Worst meals to avoid eating for Iftar in Ramadan

  • Anything fried should be avoided

    • Fried Samosa, chips, spring rolls

  • Any food that is High in Sugar and Fats

    • Sweets

    • Curries and oily stews

Slightly Healthier Alternatives for Unhealthy meals

  • If you love caffeine like me, enjoy your cup of tea/coffee several hours before your pre-dawn suhoor meal to avoid dehydration during the fast.

  • If you love samosas like me, go for Baked samosas, baked spring rolls or baked potato chips.

  • If you love sugary sodas, start having Sparkling water to cut down heavily on your sugar intake. Sparkling water is better than sugar water.

  • As shared earlier, curries and oily stews do a lot of harm on a fasting body and you will really not enjoy the after effects of such meals while fasting. The healthy alternatives that will keep your body and mood absolutely healthy and active will be if you go for baked/grilled/dry fried chicken, meat and fish. This change is highly rewarding; give it a try.

How to avoid overeating?

  • When we are hungry and have not eaten all day, there is very natural to eat more than required and eat quickly.

  • We fail to realise that no matter how hungry we feel, we will feel full with a normal portion size and eating more is not required by the body, but by our mind.

  • There is a 20 minute delay in your stomach telling your brain that you are full. When you don’t chew well and eat quickly, imagine the amount of food you can take in in 20 minutes?

  • The key to avoid overeating is to

    • Drink a glass of water before starting your meal

    • Take small portions of food in your plate

    • Chew slowly and chew well

When should we exercise while fasting in Ramadan?

  • Exercising while fasting is completely safe provided you are not doing high intensity training.

  • If you are planning to hit the gym after iftar, wait at least 1-2 hours so the digestive system has enough time to effectively digest your iftar meal.

 

Constipated while Fasting in Ramadan?

  • If you feel bloated, this is mainly due to improper digestion of what you are eating in Iftar and Suhoor.

    • Eat fresh food (not refined)

    • Your body lacks Fibre.     Have beans, lentils, fruits and veggies.

    • You body lacks enough water. Drink lots of water.

 

Indigestion while Fasting in Ramadan?

  • You are either overeating or eating a lot of fried/spicy foods.

  • Fasting can also caused increased acidity which may feel like indigestion.

  • Solution is to eat foods that are high in Fibre as Fibre will neutralize increased acidity and make you feel full thereby also avoiding any overeating.

  • Drink lots of water

Low Blood sugar while Fasting in Ramadan?

  • Low Blood sugar symptoms:

    • Poor concentration

    • Tiredness

    • Dizziness

    • Weakness in performing physical activity

  • Caused due to the absence of any meal for 11-16 hours

  • Can also occur if Suhoor meal is skipped

  • Non-diabetics can also face low blood sugar while fasting if they are having a lot of refined carbs at suhoor like sugary sodas and sweets.

  • Solution is to eat Suhoor meal rich in complex carbs. Example of Complex Carbs

    • Rice

    • Beans

    • Oats

    • Whole Wheat breads

How to know if you have made the right meal choices in Ramadan?

About 1 hour after breaking your fast, if you feel extremely tired, sluggish and sleepy - this is an indicator that you have made wrong choices in your iftar meal again.

 

During your Fast, if you feel constipated, tired, weak - this is an indicator that you have made wrong choices in your Suhoor meal again.

 

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