How you should plan your diet during Ramadan

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How you should plan your diet during Ramadan

Published: Fri 10 May 2019, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 10 May 2019, 2:00 AM

Ramadan has just begun. To me, this time of the year is about embracing spirituality, fasting and then having iftar with family and friends. My concern usually is not staying without food for 16-17 hours. Not consuming water during that time, however, can be dehydrating and make one weak.
When breaking fast, your body needs an easily available source of energy in the form of glucose. Dates provide just that. Rich in potassium, dates contain soluble fibre that makes you feel full for a longer period of time.
If you're a diabetic, you too can break your fast with dates as it will bring low blood sugar to normal levels. But limit the intake to three pieces at best.
It's also important that you don't consume greasy, sugary or deep-fried foods instantly as this can irritate the digestive system, which had been resting for 16-17 hours. It cannot handle foods that are difficult to break down and digest. Consumption of such foods right after fasting could result in acidity, heart burn and bloatedness.
After breaking fast with water and dates, it is recommended that you consume a wholesome soup like one prepared with vegetables and chicken or lentils with some wholemeal toast or rye crackers. You could also have a bowl full of fruits that have high water content, such as melons, berries, oranges, apples, pear and kiwis. By drinking soup with vegetables and fruits, we balance the water and mineral content in our bodies.
After iftar, it is best to wait for 1 or 1.5 hours before you have a wholesome dinner. The digestive juices have now been stimulated after a light iftar and are now ready to start the process of digestion.
Dinner should comprise fibre-rich salads and cooked vegetables to avoid constipation. Complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, barley, wholemeal breads, rotis, brown khubz, quinoa, can be combined with protein-rich foods like fish, chicken, lentils, beans, tofu, chickpeas and fats like coconut oil, olive oil, sesame, peanut or groundnut oil.
1 Always wake up for suhoor and eat a wholesome meal. This meal decides how your system will function by delaying hunger pangs and not dropping body temperature, blood sugar and blood pressure considerably.
2 Have a very light iftar and then follow it up with a wholesome dinner .
3 Consuming excess sugary drinks and sweets (basically refined sugar) in a short span of time can cause spike in insulin levels, giving you a high and then crashing in a short span causing incredible amount of mood swings.
4 Drink plenty of water from iftar until suhoor to avoid dehydration.
5 Avoid overly spicy/salty foods, and canned or packed foods that can make you thirsty.
6 Avoid drinking too much tea, coffee, sodas and energy drinks as they tend to dehydrate you. To avoid getting migraines and other withdrawal symptoms, you may start reducing your intake of tea and coffee.
7 Sleep and rest well, and avoid overeating at any meals.
8 Diabetics should seek advise from their doctors and dietitians if and when fasting regularly.
Here are some meal combinations that are include complex carbohydrates, fibre, protein and essential fats that should make for a healthy suhoor or iftar meal.
1 Wholegrain bread with eggs and vegetables.
2 Steel-cut oats with low-fat milk or coconut milk and dried figs and almonds.
3 Hummus, Ryvita crackers and vegetable crudités.
4 Muesli with dried raisins and Brazil nuts with low-fat yoghurt.
5 Quinoa pilaf with broccoli, carrots, green beans and pine nuts.
6 Grilled fish with baked sweet potatoes and asparagus.
7 Tandoori chicken with brown rice pilaf and spinach yoghurt salad.
8 Mexican red kidney bean salad with olives, bell peppers, tomatoes, walnut oil and fresh corn kernels.
9 Brown lentil soup with vegetables served with wholemeal pita bread and cheese.
10 Breakfast smoothie of muesli, apples, berries, low-fat milk, avocado and honey.

By Mitun De Sarkar

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