5 August 2011
For those fasting during Ramadan it’s important to eat healthy and stay healthy, so here are some top tips on what’s best for your diet
With the Holy month of Ramadan upon us, some may be fasting for the first time, and others, while not fasting on religious grounds, may choose to share the experiences of this special time with friends and colleagues.
Nutritionist and founder of Good Habits, Carole Holditch offers advice on how to continue to eat healthily and to give sustained energy throughout the fasting month. She says, “The secret is not to make your diet differ very much from your normal healthy diet and should be as simple as possible.” She continued, “This should allow you to maintain your normal weight, but if you are over-weight, Ramadan is a good time to shed some pounds.”
Carole’s recommends the following:
In view of the long hours of fasting, consume slow digesting foods, including fibre-containing foods rather than rapid-digesting foods. Slow digesting foods last up to 8 hours, while rapid-digesting foods last for only 3 to 4 hours.
Slow-digesting foods are foods containing grains and seeds, such as barley, wheat, oats, semolina, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour, and unpolished rice. These are called complex carbohydrates.
Rapid-burning foods are foods containing ingredients such as sugar and white flour, ie refined carbohydrates.
Fibre containing foods include whole wheat, grains, seeds, vegetables (like green beans, peas, and spinach), fruit with skin and dried fruit (such as dried apricots, figs, prunes, and almonds).
Meals in Ramadan should be well-balanced, and they should contain foods from each food group, such as fruits, vegetables, meat/chicken/fish, bread/cereals and dairy products.
Try to avoid fried foods that some of us are addicted to. Fried foods are unhealthy and should be limited. They cause indigestion, heart-burn, and weight problems.
Watch your portion sizes and avoid the temptation to over eat. Try to slow down your eating and savour the food.
Common health issues faced in Ramadan, their causes/remedies:
Can cause piles (haemorrhoids), fissures (painful cracks in the anal canal) and indigestion with a bloated feeling.
Causes: Too many refined foods, too little water and not enough fibre in the diet.
Remedy: Avoid excessive refined foods, increase water intake, use bran in baking and wholewheat flour.
Indigestion and wind
Causes: Over-eating. Too many fried and fatty foods, spicy foods, and foods that produce wind eg. eggs, cabbage, lentils. Carbonated drinks like Cola also produce gas.
Remedy: Do not over-eat; drink fruit juices or better still, drink water. Avoid fried foods.
Lethargy (‘low blood pressure’)
Excessive sweating, weakness, tiredness, lack of energy, dizziness, especially on getting up from sitting position, pale appearance and feeling faint are symptoms associated with ‘low blood pressure.’ This tends to occur towards the afternoon.
Causes: Too little fluid intake, decreased salt intake.
Remedy: Keep cool, increase fluid and salt intake.
Causes: Caffeine and tobacco-withdrawal, doing too much in one day, lack of sleep, and hunger. Usually occurs as the day goes by and worsens at the end of the day. When associated with ‘low blood pressure,’ the headache can be quite severe and can also cause nausea before iftar.
Remedy: Cut down on caffeine and tobacco slowly starting a week or two before Ramadan. Herbal and caffeine-free teas may be substituted. Reorganise your schedule during Ramadan to have adequate sleep.
Low blood sugar
Weakness, dizziness, tiredness, poor concentration, perspiring easily, feeling shaky (tremor), unable to perform physical activities, headache, palpitations are symptoms of low blood sugar.
Causes (in non-diabetics): Having too much sugar ie. refined carbohydrates especially at suhoor. The body produces too much insulin causing the blood glucose to drop.
Remedy: Eat something at suhoor and limit sugar-containing foods and drinks.
Causes: Inadequate intake of calcium, magnesium and potassium foods.
Remedy: Eat foods rich in the above minerals eg. vegetables, fruit, dairy products, meat and dates.
Kidney stones - may occur in people who have less liquids to drink. Therefore, it is essential to drink extra liquids to prevent stone formation.
Remedy: Drink plenty of fluids in the evenings, especially water.
Source: Nutritionist and founder of Good Habits, Carole Holditch —www.goodhabitsuae.com
Recommendations for a Ramadan diet:
Complex carbohydrates at suhoor so that the food lasts longer, making you less hungry.
Dates: an excellent source of sugar, fibre, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium.
Almonds: rich in protein and fibre with less fat.
Bananas: a good source of potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates.
Fried and fatty foods.
Foods containing too much sugar.
Over-eating, especially at suhoor.
Too much tea at suhoor: Tea makes you pass more urine, taking with it valuable mineral salts that your body would need during the day.
Smoking: If you cannot give up, cut down gradually starting a few weeks before Ramadan.
As much water or fruit juices as possible between iftar and bedtime so that your body may adjust fluid levels in time.