By: Saima Ausaf
Ramadan is much more than just not eating and drinking. It is the time of purifying our soul, mind and body from impurities and to focus on the worship of our Lord.
Fasting during the month of Ramadan can be good for your health if it is done correctly. As the Ramadan fast lasts from dawn till dusk, the body's energy can be replaced in the pre-dawn and dusk meals. Treating the non-fasting hours of the day as the time to meet your body’s nutritional needs will help the fasting hours go more smoothly. ‘Overeating’ and having ‘feasts’ lead to decreased energy levels throughout the day. A little understanding and planning of what the body requires in terms of nutrition will help us carrying out our fasts in a better way. Here are some health tips, which if followed might help you boost your energy levels over the next few weeks.
1. Drink lots of water. Water, the most effective thirst quencher helps your body to remain hydrated, prevents constipation and headaches and above all aids in digestion. Dehydration which is very common during Ramadan often leads to dizziness and tiredness. Try to consume 6-8 glasses of water between iftar and suhoor to keep your body well hydrated.
2. Avoid caffeine based drinks. Caffeine is a diuretic and stimulates faster water loss through urination. Hence the intake of caffeinated drinks such as: tea, coffee and cola should be avoided as far as possible.
3. Choose high fibre foods. This is essential as high fiber foods provide a steady release of energy during the fasting hours. Having foods high in fiber such as, whole meal chapatti, bran, cereal, grains and seeds, potatoes with skin, vegetables such as green beans and almost all fruits including apricots, prunes and figs not only prevent constipation but also help you feeling full for a longer period of time. Thus, at suhoor try to eat: porridge with a few nuts or fruit, or go for a high fiber cereal with milk, beans or egg on toast, or a healthy Asian breakfast of daal and whole meal chapatti. Avoid having high fat leftovers like samosas, halvas, curries and biryanis as they only lead to increased calorie intake.
4. Opt for healthy cooking methods. Our iftar menu mostly consists of deep fried foods such as pakoras, samosas and other types of dumplings. Choose healthy cooking options like:baking, grilling or shallow frying. Try to bake samosas in the oven or boil /steam dumplings instead of deep frying or go for chickpeas with youghurt for a healthier option. Also, avoid high fat cooked foods such as: parathas, greasy pastries as well as high sugar desserts. Instead opt for chapattis made without oil, baked or grilled meat. Go for milk based sweets such as: firni, rasmali or caramel custard.
Scholars advise that we should treat this holy month as an “honored guest” and should prepare for its arrival with proper planning so that we can benefit from its numerous blessings once it is with us. The underlying message behind Ramadan is self discipline and self-control. Feasting during non-fasting hours can be unhealthy. This time of the year is a great opportunity to bring balance into your life and to give your body a health check. It is important that people with any medical condition should seek medical advice with regards to their diet and lifestyle during this holy month.
Wishing you all a blessed Ramadan!