Eat well, eat smart
Six important tips to help those fasting during Ramadan smoothly adapt to different daily routines
During the Holy Month, it is most important that you stay healthy. Staying hydrated is key, but one should consider the types of food they eat and how much rest they get each day; adapting to new routines should be a gradual process so that the body does not react negatively to sudden changes. While nothing can replace consulting a doctor about any health concerns, there are some general tips that you can follow to help stay healthy and feel productive while fasting.
1 Keep iftar light. When breaking your fast, try to avoid a sudden intake of large portions of sugary or fatty foods. After such meals, blood rushes to the digestive system which can cause headaches and dizziness for several hours after iftar. The best practice for breaking fast would be to have two dates and some yoghurt right at sunset, then resting for 10 minutes before continuing on to a main course. Dates are very good for the body after a day of fasting because the sugar contained within dates quickly assimilates into the bloodstream, maintaining the balance of insulin secretion in the body. Spreading one’s food consumption throughout the evening helps avoid symptoms such as indigestion, which is more likely to occur when only eating two large meals.
2 Don’t skip suhoor. It is very important to always eat something for suhoor. Drinking only fluids is not enough. The carbohydrates in pasta, bread or rice are best because they give the body a source of energy to keep you going during the long day ahead. For suhoor, have a light meal and try to avoid sugary or fried foods especially if you want to go back to sleep. After having something to eat, stay awake for about 30 minutes to give your body a chance to digest before going back to sleep.
3 Get plenty of sleep. Make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep daily while fasting. Due to the nature of Ramadan, and the tradition of family gatherings and socialising, it might not be possible to sleep all 8 hours at once so try to sleep in intervals. Sleeping a few hours before iftar, after iftar and in the early hours of the morning will ensure that you get the necessary rest while not missing out on the fun late-night activities.
4 Stay on track. If you are following a weight loss diet or have an exercise routine, there is no need to abandon it during Ramadan. It is, however, important to be consistent and to spread your meals throughout the evening. Start iftar by having some dates; 10 minutes later, have a salad or soup; then an hour after that, have your main course. Pacing your intake will help fight off the feeling of hunger and will also reduce the amount of food consumed overall. An easy analogy is to think of iftar as your breakfast and suhoor your dinner, i.e., evenings essentially become mornings and mornings become evenings when it comes to exercise and meals.
5 Manage medication and chronic illness. When thinking about when to take medication, the same concept for dieting and exercise applies. Your days and nights switch, so medication that would normally be taken with breakfast will, during Ramadan, now be taken with iftar and vice versa. When in doubt, always consult your doctors especially when taking medication more than twice a day. In the case of diabetics, patients having to take two treatments a day should be able to fast. If patients are taking between 3-4 treatments a day, they should consult their doctor to see if it would be possible to fast or not. Those who are prone to gastric discomfort should take their medication at suhoor and if confronted with pain while fasting, stop and consult a doctor.
6 Have a driving buddy. Many living in the UAE travel from one emirate to another to go back and forth from work. Drivers should make sure they are well rested before driving long distances. Try not to travel alone, have another passenger in the car to share the drive and swap if needed. Most importantly, if at any point while driving you do not feel well, stop and, if necessary, break your fast.
— Courtesy: International SOS