During Ramadan, millions of Muslims worldwide focus on inner reflection and fast from dusk to dawn. The ongoing circumstances continue to change our lives in a variety of ways, especially during special occasions and celebrations. Because of the travel restrictions, Muslims will celebrate the Holy Month from the safety of their own homes for now.
When you fast during Ramadan, you not only change your eating habits, but you also change your lifestyle. Turns out, your body’s biological clock often undergoes a number of physical and mental shifts. Since you’re dehydrated and starving from fasting, your body slows down your metabolism to use it as effectively as possible.
But you can still manage to fast and capture the spirit of Ramadan simply by drinking enough water and watching what you eat during sahur (the meal period before sunrise) and after iftar (the meal period after sunset).
Nutrition and wellness
To fulfil the amount of energy and nutrients your body requires during the day during Ramadan, try to consume foods high in calories, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, and drink plenty of water before your fast. At the same time, this does not imply that you can eat all you need during sahur all at once. If you do this, your body may not be able to use all of the calories you use at once, which will result in weight gain. This is how the body adjusts to Ramadan eating habits.
Adults can consume 3 to 4 litres of water every day. And even if you do get 40% of this amount from foods, fruit juice, mineral water, tea, and other beverages, you should always consume 1.5 to 2.5 litres of water a day. This means that every hour from iftar to sahur, you should drink two or three glasses of water.
The good and the bad
One of the most common errors is to eat snacks after iftar to curb the hunger and then sleep, ignoring sahur and remaining hungry until the next iftar. You should eat often during sahur, ideally right before fasting begins. Eating before bedtime or not eating during sahur may result in severe low blood sugar and dehydration the next day. As a result, you can feel dizzy and have trouble concentrating during the day.
So, what should you eat during sahur to feel more energetic throughout the day?
A light, healthy and filling breakfast is a great option. Before sunrise, you can eat dairy products and fresh vegetables such as cheeses, eggs, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Additionally, you can always enjoy soup, vegetables cooked in olive oil and fruits. This combination meets your body’s daily energy, vitamin and protein needs. In addition to fruit, you should eat whole wheat bread and pasta or dates, figs, whole grains, and seeds rich in carbs and fibres, which are good for your digestive system.
Dried fruits, walnuts and almonds are also great food supplements. They can make you feel full for long hours throughout the day. It’s not just the variety of food you eat, but also the portions that play a decisive role in your nutrition. You should choose smaller portions and eat wisely.
Keeping fit and hydrated
During Ramadan, you should avoid daily activities that can dehydrate your body, especially during hot days. If you work in hot weather conditions or are a professional athlete who wants to fast, use food supplements for a balanced and healthy diet that will support your daily activities.
If you regularly exercise you should continue to meet your daily energy, protein, and water needs during the times you are not fasting. Additionally, lower your exercise duration by 30 percent during Ramadan.
Breaking the fast with easily digestible foods is a good, healthy option too. During Ramadan, people tend to eat a lot of food very quickly after many long hours of fasting. But try breaking your fast with soup, then water, fresh-squeezed fruit juice, so you can hydrate your body after a long day of dehydration, and then eat the main course 10 or 15 minutes later. This will prevent excessive food intake by giving you a sense of fullness, which in turn will help your digestive system.
For the main course, grilled, boiled or steamed meat, chicken or vegetable dishes are good options. By chewing your food thoroughly and taking a walk an hour or two hours after iftar, you can aid your digestive and cardiovascular systems.
Ramadan is indeed a sacred time of year and fasting is an important part of this holy month, but as you can see, there are plenty of options available to fast and stay healthy and nourished.