• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
businessday logo


12 food items to keep you healthy this Ramadan

The significance and lessons from Ramadan

Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. A time when muslims are enjoined to stay off eating and drinking for a particular period, except for those who are exempted for some reasons.

As muslim faithful worldwide begin the mandatory 29, or sometimes 30 days fasting today, there would be certain changes in their daily routine, lifestyles, including eating and sleeping patterns.

While fasting, it is important that certain foods are eaten in large quantities and carbonated drinks are avoided as much as possible.

Here are 12 food items to consider for Sahur (dawn) and Iftar (dusk) by nutrition experts:

What to eat during Sahur
Protein-rich food: Foods that are high in protein are especially recommended for Sahur due to their ability to take longer time to digest and therefore help a fasting muslim stay less hungry.
Foods such as eggs, beef, lamb, poultry, fish, seafood, milk, etc are high in protein and other nutrients and can be made or cooked in different ways to suit one’s preference.
Fibre-rich food: Fibre is incredibly an important source of nutrition, but what makes it particularly important during Sahur is its ability to leave your stomach undigested for many hours.
Certain types of fibre may also promote weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, and fight constipation. Examples of fibre-rich foods include: avocados, berries, apples, whole grains (such as wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and oats), green beans and peas, nuts, vegetables, etc.

Calcium and vitamin-rich food: High calcium foods include milk, yoghurt, cheese, leafy greens, beans, and okra. So adding a yoghurt smoothie or a vanilla milkshake to your Sahur meal can’t be a bad idea, as it can help one stay full and hydrated throughout the day.

What to avoid during Sahur
Simple or refined carbohydrates: These foods such as sugars, white flour, pastries, doughnuts and cereals provide satisfaction for only three to four hours and are low in essential nutrients. So they’re highly discouraged during Sahur.
Salty food: An imbalance of sodium levels in your body makes you very thirsty while fasting, so try to avoid salty or highly seasoned foods, as well as food that contain soya sauce.
Caffeinated drinks: Drinks that have caffeine lead to insomnia and restlessness. Drinks such as coffee, green tea, energy drinks, etc have high caffeine content. They are discouraged during Sahur because they don’t hydrate the body and they can leave a fasting muslim thirsty the whole day.

What to eat during Iftar
Sufficient fluids: Drink as much water or natural fruit juices as possible between iftar and bedtime to avoid dehydration.
Potassium-rich fruits: Potassium is necessary for the proper function of the body system. Some of its key roles include minimising cramps and maintaining the fluid balance in the body. Foods that are high in potassium include beans, dark leafy greens, potatoes, yoghurt, oranges, and bananas. Dates are nutrient powerhouses that are a good source of potassium and an excellent food to break your fast.
Hydrating vegetables: Cucumbers, lettuce and other vegetables are high in fibre and water. They not only help your body feel cool, but are also a great choice for keeping your skin healthy and avoiding constipation during Ramadan.

What to avoid during iftar
Carbonated drinks: Avoid drinking processed beverages and carbonated drinks (such as Milo, Bournvita, Fanta, Coke, etc) which are usually high in sugar, increasing your risk of overweight and obesity, and can cause bloating and gas, leading to indigestion. Stick to regular water or natural fruit juices to quench your thirst.
High-sugar foods: High-sugar foods such as sweets and chocolates should be avoided as they contain very little nutritional value and are high in calories. They contribute to weight gain and can lead to health issues if consumed every day.
Fried foods: Oily and fried food, such as fried beef, samosas, pastries etc should be avoided or at least minimised as they are loaded with fat and stored in the body as fatty tissue. Eating fatty foods after long hours of fasting causes acidity and indigestion.