A guide to healthy fasting this Ramadan

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A guide to healthy fasting this Ramadan

With spirituality in focus, anyone fasting during the month of Ramadan should also be taking special care of their health by exercising and eating the right types of food that will help fight hunger and keep you replenished throughout the day.

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Published: Tue 19 Apr 2016, 9:29 PM

Dr. Atul Aundhekar from iCARE Clinics shares a few helpful tips to make sure your body and mind are getting everything they need.

Avoid skipping meals, especially at Suhoor (before sunrise). Eating slow carbs when you wake up will give you lasting energy throughout the day. If you don’t have a large appetite early in the morning, a glass of milk and a handful of nuts or dates is recommended. For those who eat heavier meals in the morning, wheat bread with hummous or chicken is ideal. Remember to have at least two or three glasses of water before you begin fasting to avoid feeling dehydrated.

Go slow on your food intake when breaking your fast. Laban, dates, fruit juice or soups are the perfect choice of foods to opt for in the evening. A good mix of carbs, proteins, fruits and vegetables must be included in your meals. Light physical activity is also recommended and will keep your body energised and fit. During the summer, your body can also mistake the lack of water for hunger, and could cause you to ingest more than your body can handle. However, overeating should be avoided and you should make sure to drink plenty of fluids as well.

Due to the long hours of fasting, you should consume complex carbohydrates, or slow digesting foods, so that you’re less hungry during the day. Fasting can often increase gastric acidity levels in the stomach which can cause a burning feeling and heaviness. This can be avoided by eating foods rich in fibre such as whole wheat bread, vegetables, and fruits. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods that contain grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, whole meal flour and brown rice.

Steer clear of foods that are fried, spicy, salty or contain too much sugar as they can cause health problems like indigestion, heartburn, and weight gain, especially on an empty stomach. Too much salty food makes your body retain water and gives you the feeling of being bloated, while spicy foods also induce thirst. Sweets and sugary foods are fast burning and will turn into fat. It is also recommended to stay away from preserved foods and fast food during Ramadan.

Drinks with high caffeine content like coffee, tea, chocolate, sodas should be avoided. Caffeine percolates calcium from your system, which makes you feel less full all the time. Avoid drinking tea at Suhoor, as tea increases salt excretion in the urine, which is needed for your body during fasting. The ideal beverage would be water, and if you’re feeling more dehydrated than usual, add a slice of lime, strawberries or even mint to your glass.

As Ramadan fasting is basically an exercise in self-discipline, for those who are chain smokers, food nibblers or caffeine addicts, it is a good opportunity to break the habit. Fasting can really be a great way to lose weight. The basic equation is simple – you must balance the calories that you take in with the calories that go out. If you consistently eat more calories than you burn, you will tend to store up the excess as fat.

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