Fasting during Ramadan can improve one’s health if based on a healthy eating plan.
During the month of Ramadan, two main meals are served: The Iftar meal, which is served after sunset and the Suhoor meal, which is served before dawn.
Both meals should be healthy and provide essential nutrients to replenish energy levels and prevent muscle breakdown throughout a day of fasting. A balanced fluid intake from dawn to dusk is also necessary, especially in hot weather when the body can loose water through sweating.
Many studies have shown the health benefits of fasting in Ramadan among which a research from the Intermountain Medical Center in Utah, by Dr Horne and his team on pre-diabetic patients, presented at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions in 2014, which showed that periodic fasting could guard against cardiovascular diseases, eliminate “bad cholesterol” and reduce weight.
Here are some nutritional tips to follow:
Start your Iftar meal by drinking 2 glasses of water, which helps in rehydration and follow with a glass every hour till bedtime if possible (To prevent getting thirsty avoid foods that are too spicy and/or salty).
Consume everything in moderation to avoid over-eating and and beware of the buffets which may sometimes result in bloating, tiredness, and feeling sick.
Make sure to consume a balanced diet in carbohydrates, fats and protein.
Include enough fiber, which takes longer time to digest, make you feel full in addition of healthy bowel movements to sustain energy levels longer.
Limit consumption of caffeinated drinks (coffee, hot chocolate, tea, iced tea and cola based beverages), remember these caffeine-based beverages are dehydrating and should not be counted in your fluid intake.
Avoid sugary sweets, which will increase your craving over time and give your empty calories without nutritional benefits.
To keep your meals healthy, limit frying and opt for steaming, grilling, baking instead.
Do NOT skip the SUHOOR meal, since it is the meal is the most important meal that will maintain your blood sugar levels and keep your body going through the day until IFTAR.
If light to moderate exercise right before the IFTAR meal is not possible, you can take a walk in the evenings after your meal which will aid in digestion, and increase your endorphins levels, making you more alert and giving an overall feeling of general mental wellbeing.