Ramadan is considered to be the holiest month of the Islamic year and it is a time of self-reflection and self-purification, both physically and spiritually for all Muslims. Fasting during Ramadan does not make significant changes in the metabolic balance of healthy people. On the contrary, it can be a healthy practice if a person who is fasting is able to maintain a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle throughout the fasting period.
Fasting during the month of Ramadan begins with pre-dawn meal or Suhoor and ends at dusk when people break their fast which also known as Iftar. Nourish these two main meals by consuming the right food in the right quantity can replenish your energy for healthy fasting during Ramadan.
Here are some of the tips on healthy fasting:
Have a well-balanced diet and healthy food choice.
Consume whole grains and other complex carbohydrates in combination with protein and fiber will give you a long lasting fullness as well as provide prolonged and sustained energy throughout the day. Avoid simple sugar such as white rice and white breads, as these foods digest rapidly, and might cause your blood sugar levels to escalate & drop quickly, leaving you feeling hungry. Eating dates (kurma) to break the fast is a traditional and healthy way to begin Iftar as dates do provide a quick boost of energy. They are easily digested, and they will enrich your body with sufficient fiber, vitamins and minerals to prevent constipation.
Don’t skip Suhoor, first meal of the day.
Skipping Suhoor prolongs your fasting period and your body has to rely on previous meal to provide you with all the nutrients and energy until Iftar. Due to longer hours of fasting, you will then be more likely to feel dehydrated and feel tired throughout the day. This will encourage overeating also during Iftar later, which can cause unhealthy weight gain. Choose the right food to sustain through the fast and start your day by having a light pre-dawn meal that is filled with all the necessary nutrients would provide you with enough energy to last until Iftar.
Stay hydrated and drinks plenty of water.
Store enough water in body to ensure your body is always hydrated and reduce the risk of dehydration during fasting. Water is the main source of hydration. Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily in between Iftar and Suhoor to prevent dehydration and constipation.
Avoid caffeinated beverages.
Caffeine based beverages such as coffee or tea has the diuretic effect as they add to the dehydration during the period of fasting which will then promote faster water loss through urination.
Avoid overeating and eat in appropriate portion.
Fasting individual tend to reward themselves with heavy meal when it is time to eat. This kind of food make you feel full in a short time but they can make your fasting on the next day more difficult. Meal during Ramadan fasting should be well-balanced and nutritious, yet consumed in a healthy portion especially during Iftar. This is because it is the meal that replenishes energy levels and helps to sustain fast on the following day. Overeating and excessive consumption of foods may result in indigestion and weight gain. Controlling the size of the meal portion is the key to staying healthy during the entire fasting month.
Stay away from oily, salty and sugary food.
Aside from the unhealthy weight gain, consuming oily and sugary foods may cause sluggishness and fatigue. Avoid salty food such as salted nuts, pickles, chips and food that contain soya sauce to limit salt intake especially during Suhoor to prevent thirst throughout the long fasting day.
Exercise lightly and stay fit.
Adding some light physical activity or low-to-moderate intensity exercise during Ramadan would be very beneficial to help you maintain a healthy weight and healthy lifestyle. This is to keep your body supple and fit as well as maintain your overall health throughout the fasting month.
Organize your schedule to rest early at night.
Get a good night’s rest and adequate sleep of 6 to 8 hours a day throughout Ramadan to reserve energy and to help you stay fresh for the following day. Do not go to bed immediately after Iftar or Suhoor to avoid indigestion as the body needs some times to digest the food.