Lifestyle - March 17, 2023

Ramadan: Experts share top tips for healthy eating during fasting month

Iftar in Ramadan

Muslims around the globe will be preparing for Ramadan, Ajyal America has gathered top healthy nutrition tips to make sure that this year Ramadan is a mindful one while enjoying all the spiritual opportunities this holy month has to offer.

Experts based in different Arabic countries such as Saudi Arabia and The United Arab Emirate encourage Muslims to follow a healthy balanced meals for Iftar and the Suhoor, and they offered ways to stay hydrated and call on those fasting to set realistic goals for Ramadan.

So, let’s dive in and here are the top tips for Ramadan 2023:

Best ways to break your fast, don’t skip your meals

To ensure adequate nutrient intake during Iftar, it is crucial to break the fast properly after a whole day of fasting, according to Clinical Dietitian Nour Amaneddine based in Riyadh. A well-balanced meal is the key, with a recommendation to start by drinking water and then eating dates to stabilize blood sugar. Soups are also important as they replenish fluids lost while fasting and prepare the digestive system for upcoming meals.

For the main meal, Amaneddine advises including vegetables, a source of protein, and complex carbohydrates such as quinoa, lentils, and whole grains. Protein is especially important for preserving muscle mass after long hours of fasting.

Amaneddine suggests incorporating healthy fats in moderation, such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts, as some vitamins require fat to dissolve into the bloodstream and provide nutrients.

Despite the temptation to indulge in Ramadan sweets, Head Dietitian Lama Sinjer at Dubai’s Gargash Hospital recommends having fruits or a light dessert instead. Skipping any meal, whether Iftar or Suhoor, is also not advised. For Suhoor, a balanced meal should include protein, such as lentils or dairy products, and potassium-rich foods like bananas. A sandwich with strained yoghurt and cucumber is also a good option.

Avoid sugary drinks as a source for hydration

Both Sinjer and Amaneddine emphasized the importance of staying hydrated, and recommended that water should be the primary source of hydration when breaking the fast.

It is recommended to drink an average of eight to ten cups of water between breaking the fast and Suhoor time. It’s best to avoid popular Ramadan drinks such as jallab, tamereddine, and amareddine, as they are high in sugar and calories. Instead, yoghurt and milk are recommended.

Besides soups, fruits and vegetables are also an excellent way to compensate for the water lost during the day. Some examples of hydrating fruits and vegetables are cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, strawberries, and watermelon.

Moderation is key for Ramadan

Amaneddine and Sinjer emphasize the importance of staying mindful about food choices during Ramadan. While it is a time to reconnect with loved ones, it’s essential to avoid focusing solely on food. Amaneddine suggests using this month as an opportunity to decrease consumption of junk food and instead enjoy healthier options with family.

Even though there are many delicious sweets served during Ramadan, moderation is key. It’s possible to indulge in moderation and use the month as a stepping stone towards a more mindful eating habit. In addition, engaging in non-food-related activities can be helpful.

Physical activity is encouraged to maintain a healthy lifestyle while fasting. Sinjer recommends exercising two hours after breaking the fast, while Amaneddine suggests incorporating brisk walking or running into the routine. It’s important to keep workouts light during daylight hours to prevent exhaustion and get used to fasting during the first few days.

Overall, the key consideration when exercising during Ramadan is how your body feels in a fasted state. Listen to your body and don’t stress it with a specific timing for exercise.

Don’t be too hard on yourself and do not set unrealistic goals

During Ramadan, many people set resolutions such as losing weight or breaking unhealthy habits. However, it’s important to keep these goals realistic and sustainable beyond the holy month. As Amaneddine notes, “Unfortunately, some people after Ramadan go back to their old habits, but this is because they set unrealistic goals and make changes that are dramatic and unsustainable during this month.”

Rather than focusing on short-term changes, lifestyle adjustments should be made with the long-term in mind. As Amaneddine explains, “What you need to focus on are changes that you can continue with even when Ramadan ends.”

One common goal during Ramadan is weight loss, but Sinjer warns against drastic measures. “Do not cut down on Suhoor or just restrict yourself from food because trust me you will lose muscles and water and once Ramadan is over, you will gain all the weight back and sometimes you are at risk of regaining even more weight,” she cautions. Instead, Sinjer recommends using this month to focus on cleansing and detoxifying the body.

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