Health Guide: Ramadan Edition

Staff Correspondent
Thursday, May 25th, 2017


 

With Ramadan in summer, fasting becomes more difficult because certain things pose extra challenges such as becoming dehydrated, not getting proper nutrients or having to eat fried and unhealthy food.

 

There are key things to consider when fasting in summer. For starters, let us look at different methods of cooking. It is recommended that we don’t deep-fry food. That is because fried food is low on essential nutrients, thus what you’re actually doing is frying away all the vitamins. Although they don’t taste as good, try grilling or if you must, shallow fry your food. That will help preserve the nutrients.

 

According to Dr Afsana Begum, Associate Consultant at United Hospital Ltd, there are two kinds of diet, diabetic and non-diabetic. “Ramadan meals should include fresh fruits, especially ones with high water content like watermelons and mangoes. I recommend chickpeas, non-fried of course, and a variety of juices like mango, banana, orange, etc. Also supplement meat with fish. It is important to eat cool foods to keep your body cool.”

 

For Sehri, she advised to eat lots and lots of protein-rich food, milk, banana and yoghurt. They will take longer to process and will keep your body temperature cool.

 

“For diabetic patients, one should always consult their physician before they fast. These are, however, general guidelines. First and foremost, diabetic patients must control their diabetes. They need to adjust their insulin intake and timings for Sehri and Iftar. As diabetics have a strict diet to begin with, I recommend that they eat vegetables and fish. Some light exercise like walking and yoga is also beneficial.”

 

We are usually surrounded by poor food choices during Ramadan. In most places what you will be offered are deep fried eggplants, oily meat curries, overly sweetened juices and sweets. Most people queue outside restaurants and hotels for these treats to take home or they have an extensive array of deep fried goodies waiting for them at home.

 

The No Go: Avoid oily food as much as possible. When you’re fasting all day, your body slows down to preserve energy. Oily food doesn’t replenish but adds unnecessary fat to your body and nothing else. Hence after a heavy Sehri/Iftar, one becomes tired and groggy. You’re not fuelling your body with what it needs but with food that makes your body work harder to find nutrients.

 

To Must Dos’: Eat complex carbohydrates rather than refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour. The point of this is to let the food slowly release nutrients into your body, rather than shock it with a sudden and high dose of sugar. Also eat lentils, whole wheat bread and chickpeas soup (yes, soup) though not your typical Iftar treat, is much healthier. Eat fruits such as dates which are full of fibre, sugar, potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates. Bananas, too, are a good source of carbohydrates, magnesium and potassium while oranges and apples provide good source of natural sugar.

 

We usually tend to focus mostly on meat during Ramadan meals but let’s not forget the benefits of vegetables and fish. For one, they will not make you feel heavy, and two, they are full of vitamins and minerals that your body craves. When in doubt, remember the healthy food chart they used to teach in school. The same rules should apply during Ramadan. This should be the time when you re-enforce these healthy eating habits instead of ignoring them to satisfy your hungry stomach. We must maintain a healthy balanced diet when fasting. This encompasses a good idea of dietary knowledge, healthy cooking skills, and nutrition.

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