It’s that time of the year again! Muslims all over the world are gearing up for fasting in the holy month of Ramzan or Ramadan. They abstain from food and drinks during the day and break their fast with Iftar after sunset. This preparation of delectable meals (Iftar) reflects the natural desire to treat oneself with scrumptious food after day-long fasting. However, it’s important that one balances the meals in a way that it prepares the body to fast the following day. A healthy Iftar helps replenish the energy stores and maintain weight during Ramadan. We understand that sticking to healthy meals is a task when one is spoilt for choices. Don’t worry! Here are a few smart ways in which one can stick to a healthy Iftar plan.
Hydrate Yourself – Fasting during Ramadan leads to restricted access to food and water. In this time of limited fluid intake, conservation of water within the body depends on the weather and the length of the fast. A good idea to fight this episode of mild dehydration is by beginning Iftar with lots of fluids such as water, fresh fruit juices or milk. Doing this will provide your body with all the essential fluids that it needs to function normally.1 The key here is to avoid drinks that are high on sugar and calories to maintain healthy fluid intake.
Start with Dates – Breaking fast with dates is a traditional practice among Muslims.2 Dates are packed with nutrition that makes them the perfect item to begin your Iftar with. They contain natural sugars, fibre and minerals like potassium, manganese and copper, which can instantly satiate your sweet buds and also keep up your health quotient.3
Savour the Fruits – In many cultures across the world, fruits are a traditional way of breaking a fast. Fruits are one of the best sources of natural sugar, fluids, fibre and minerals. Their high nutritional value helps in making Iftar healthy and keeps your body hydrated for a long time.
Down the Soups – An indispensable dish for Iftar, soups are a great source of fluids and proteins. Soups help in maintaining a healthy digestive system and provide energy for the following day. Go for the ones that contain pulses and easily digestible carbs such as lentils, beans, pasta or tofu.
Eat Mindfully – After restricting yourself from eating food or enjoying drinks all day, do not rush into overloading your stomach at night. Keep a check on your portion size and calorie intake to stay healthy and maintain a stable weight during fasting. Eating slowly and mindfully without distractions helps you to avoid overeating and other related problems.4
Gorge On Protein–rich Foods – Your Iftar meal should consist of high-quality proteins that provide your body with essential amino acids and helps maintain muscle mass.5 Milk, eggs, yoghurt, cheese are complete proteins. Low-fat dairy products and nuts are a great source of proteins for sustained energy as they make you feel full with less food.6
Now that you know how to make healthy choices during Ramadan, don’t let the royal feast around you deviate you from the right track. Follow these tips to improve your food choices and achieve your health goals even after the fast passes.
- Leiper JB, Molla AM, Molla AM. Effects on health of fluid restriction during fasting in Ramadan. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2003;57(S2)
- Holt A. The World of the Crusades: A Daily Life Encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group; 2019
- Al-Farsi* MA, Lee CY. Nutritional and Functional Properties of Dates: A Review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2008;48(10):877–87
- Daubenmier J, Kristeller J, Hecht FM, Maninger N, Kuwata M, Jhaveri K, et al. Mindfulness Intervention for Stress Eating to Reduce Cortisol and Abdominal Fat among Overweight and Obese Women: An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Study [Internet]. Journal of obesity. Hindawi Publishing Corporation; 2011 [cited 2020Feb4]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21977314/
- Bosse JD, Dixon BM. Dietary protein to maximize resistance training: a review and examination of protein spread and change theories [Internet]. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. BioMed Central; 2012 [cited 2020Feb4]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22958314
- Halton TL, Hu FB. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review [Internet]. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. U.S. National Library of Medicine; 2004 [cited 2020Feb4]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15466943