This year, Ramadan, the holy month for Muslims began in the second week of July. Muslims across the world have started fasting each day from dawn to sunset. With a long day of fasting and limited time to eat, it is important to ensure we nourish ourselves properly. The quality of food we choose is far more important than the quantity of food. Good nutrition during this month can help prevent fatigue, low blood sugar, headaches, muscle aches, indigestion and heart burn. The following are some nutrition suggestions to consider during this month.
• Meal Schedule
Weight loss or planning to change your weight during Ramadan should be avoided. Your goal should be trying to maintain your weight. Having good meal structure can contribute towards maintaining your weight. Continue to try and have three meals or having the two main meals (Iftar and Suhoor) and an evening snack. Some examples of the evening snack/night meal may include a sandwich, or piece of fruit and ¾ cup of yogurt or a bowl of cereal.
To keep hydrated adult men may need up to 12 cups of fluids each day, while adult women may need up to 9 cups. Ramadan falling within summer this year, it is important that you try to consume enough fluids between Iftar and Suhoor.
Not only it is important to take fluids, but it is also important to include minerals, or electrolytes to make sure you will be adequately hydrated. These “hydration minerals” are included in fruits and vegetables. A recommendation for Suhoor is including a bowl of mixed fruit, or including a fruit smoothie. The fruit smoothie can include blended mixed fruit, milk, and yogurt. Having a smoothie or fruit bowl in addition to the other food you usually eat at Suhoor will help to keep you hydrated and full longer throughout the day.
• Eating food that will help keep you full longer
There are certain types of food that can help keep you full longer throughout the day. These foods include high fibre food and protein food. Fruit, legumes (kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils), high fibre breads and cereals are a few high fibre foods. Not only will these foods keep you full longer but will keep your energy levels higher longer as well; therefore, it is important to eat them at Suhoor. With high fibre breads and cereals try to aim for products that have more than 2 or 3 grams of fibre per serving. You can determine this by reading the fibre content on the nutrition label. Including these high fibre food help the sugar from the food be released into your blood stream slowly; consequently, the energy you receive from the food will last longer.
It is also important to consume protein (meats, eggs, fish, peanut butter, and nuts) food at all your meals during Ramadan, especially at Suhoor. Protein food can help keep you full longer also. As well when combined with bread or bread products the energy from the food can last longer.
• Moderate Portions
Try not to over consume, especially at Iftar, it will prevent you from experiencing some of the common symptoms discussed earlier. When breaking the fast having dates, water, fruit salad or soups firs can “warm up” your digestive system. After, you move on to a balanced meal which can include vegetables, protein and grains (rice, pasta, potatoes, and bread). Regarding portions, if you visualize a plate, ¼ of your plate can be grains, ¼ plate can be protein and ½ your plate can be vegetables, this is a guide to ensure you include a variety of food in your diet.
-Sunbal Mumtaz, BSc (Hons), MS, RD, CNSC