Ramadan is a month-long period of fasting observed by millions of Muslims around the world. Fasting for 30 days may make it tempting to let go of healthy eating habits and binge out during Suhoor and Iftar, but that’s not the spirit of Ramadan. In Islam, we recognise our bodies to be a trust from Allah ﷻ which means that we are responsible for its well-being. So, how can we stay healthy in Ramadan?
Here are 10 tips to help you eat right in Ramadan.
1. Mate, You Gotta Hydrate!
Staying hydrated is important during Ramadan, especially since Muslims are not allowed to drink anything during the daylight hours. It is important to drink at least 2L of water daily and other fluids during Suhoor and Iftar to ensure that the body stays hydrated (ADG, 2013). This can be especially hard to achieve, so carry a bottle of water to Taraweeh and have a glass or 2 with your Iftar this Ramadan.
2. ‘Why So Dense?’ Foods
During Ramadan, it is important to choose nutrient-dense foods to ensure that your body is getting the necessary vitamins and minerals, especially since we are having less frequent meals. This means that the shawarma shop 2 streets away that has a lot of protein, loads of fat and little source of fibre isn’t always the ideal Iftar, as your body needs a more balanced meal. Having daal or lentil soup with rice and a crunchy salad is a more refreshing option and a lot more nutritious.
3. Don’t Trust the Processed Foods!
Processed foods, such as packaged snacks and calorie-dense food should be avoided during Ramadan. These types of foods are often really high in calories, sugar, and salt and offer little nutritional value. A bag of chips may be a quick and easy Suhoor in the haste before the Fajr athan, but a date or 3 are even better.
4. Complex Carbs
Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and legumes, provide sustained energy throughout the day. Including legumes like beans and chickpeas in your Suhoor allows for a sustained source of energy throughout the day (Aune et al., 2017). Add hummus dip to your Iftar spread, and relish the fibrous goodness.
5. Fat is Healthy
Healthy fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds, and avocados, are important for overall health and can help keep you feeling full throughout the day. They help maintain brain function, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases (Kris-Etherton et al., 2017). A sourdough slice with avocado or low-fat organic peanut butter spread is a simple but quick Suhoor idea, so give it a go!
6. It’s in the Dates!
Fibre, found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, is important for digestive health and can help keep you feeling full throughout the day. Dates are rich in fibre and a recommended food for Suhoor and Iftar (Sunan al-Tirmidhī 696 & Sunan Abī Dāwūd 1399). Who knew the Sunnah was so nutritious, Subhan Allah!
Skipping suhoor can lead to overeating later in the day and can cause a drop in energy levels. It is important to eat a well-balanced suhoor meal to help you stay energised throughout the day as it prevents decreased physical performance and cognitive function.During the Quran recitation and prayers during the day, our energy and focus are just some things we can’t afford to lose.
Overeating at iftar can cause digestive issues and can lead to weight gain. It is important to sift through all those great meals at the table, eat slowly and to stop eating when you feel full. Don’t carry a full belly to Taraweeh!
9. Sugary Drinks
Sugary drinks, such as soda and fruit juices, should be avoided during Ramadan. Why? Well, put simply, spiking the levels of sugar in your blood at Iftar is not a friendly way to greet your empty stomach after a day of fasting. Try ayran for a refreshing dairy drink instead!
10. Moderation is Key
Eating too little or too much isn’t worthwhile during Ramadan. It is important to enjoy the foods you eat, but to do so without overindulging. Remember that the Prophet ﷺ said that it is sufficient for a human being to eat a few mouthfuls (Sunan Ibn Majah 3349).
So that’s 10 tips to help you eat right this Ramadan! Staying healthy during Ramadan is important for both physical and spiritual well-being. By following these 10 nutritional tips, you can ensure that you stay healthy and energised during the month. Remember, Ramadan is month full of benefits, not just for the body, but for the soul too!
Written by Menna Kamal