Hacks to Make this Ramadan Healthy: Go from Feast to Fast in simple ways
Ramadan is an Islamic holy month where Muslims all over the world observe fast. The fast consists of total abstinence of food and drinks from dawn to dusk. Fasting in this month is an act of worship, a chance to get closer to God, and a way to become more compassionate to those in need.
Apart from the spiritual benefits, fasting has multiple health benefits as well. Many research studies have reported that fasting helps in gut cleansing, controlling blood sugar and blood pressure levels, reducing inflammation, reducing weight, etc.
However, despite all of these beneficial effects of fasting, many times you must have seen the opposite happening with you. You might be gaining weight, feel bloated or lethargic during Ramadan. Why is this so? Is there anything that you were doing wrong?
Let's look at some wrong practices that we tend to do do during Ramadan knowingly or unknowingly. And for each one of them I will be giving you one swap or a hack to fix it.
Mistake #1. Breaking your fast with fried or sweet items:
Iftar is the meal which breaks the day's fast. You are hungry all day, you are craving to eat and you are probably used to eating fried items in iftar since childhood. But it is never late to understand that it is not healthy. After long hours of fasting, our stomach is empty and yearns for something that will provide us quick energy. Something which will also be nutritious at the same time.
If you break your fast with something very sweet, for example: sherbet, juices, custard etc., there will be an immediate rice in your blood sugar levels. Sudden spike in your sugar levels will leave you feeling more hungry.
If you break your fast with something fried, for example: pakode, samosa, etc., your stomach will take time to digest the fat. Hence you will not feel satiated soon and you will overeat in that moment.
So what you eat immediately on breaking your fast is of utmost importance, as the body will immediately react to it. Dates are a good option to break your fast. They have simple carbs which give you quick energy and are also rich in fiber. But remember not to have more than 1-3 dates at a time. Following this, have a glass of water and a bowl of fruits. Apple, pear, oranges, papaya, watermelons are the best as they are rich in fiber and have high water content. Then, you can take a small break, offer your prayers and then sit and eat till your stomach is 80% full.
Mistake #2. Not having enough protein in your iftar and suhoor
Our body need approximately 1 gram per kg of our ideal body weight on a daily basis. This stands true even in Ramadan. In fact, we have to be more cautious of this during Ramadan, because our eating period is smaller and we have to get the required proteins within that time for the whole day. Many of the iftar and suhoor items like pasta, pakode, pulao, sandwiches, custard,etc. have none or very little amount of proteins.
Make sure that there is adequate source of proteins in your iftaar and suhoor. Before planning your meals, decide of a source of a protein and then think of dishes you can make with it. Here are some examples.
Some ways to add protein in your iftar dishes are as follows:
chicken/mutton/eggs: cutlets, kebabs, baked samosa, sandwich, khichda/haleem
pulses: chana chaat, chole masala, ragda chaat
milk products-: dahi vada with lots of dahi and 1-2 vadas, buttermilk
Suhoor, the pre dawn meal should be wholesome and nutritious. Having a source of protein in suhoor will keep you full for a long time. Avoid eating simple carbs like rice in sehri as this will easily make your stomach full for that moment but will get digested easily by the morning.
Egg- Omlette, boiled or scrambled. Have it with whole grain or millet roti instead of bread.
Chicken/Mutton - gravy with roti instead of rice
Pulses- Khichdi along with some curd
Milk- Oats porridge with some nuts
Having a handful of nuts in suhoor will get you some proteins and omega 3 fatty acids. Chewing something hard will also help to reduce mouth odour.
Mistake number #3. Drinking your Calories
Another most common mistake we all do is drinking lots of sherbets, juices, soda or cold drinks at night because we are thirsty. These drinks are loaded with sugar and empty calories without any nutrients. Do not fill your stomach with junk. Quenching your thirst with these sugary drinks is not what your body deserves. The best way is to avoid buying them. If its there in your cabinet, you will be tempted to make them. So this Ramadan, cross out these drinks from your grocery list.
Sip on 1 glass of water every two hours. You can even have black tea with lemon, also known as the sulaimani chai. This tea also helps to relieve indigestion, hence have them after 1 hour of iftar. Since, ramadan is in summer this year, you can soak basil seeds (sabza) and have it milk. This will help in reducing the body heat. Avoid having roohafaza and sugary syrups everyday. If required, then try to have it only once or twice a week. You can even try a lemonade or buttermilk.
Avoid salty or fried foods in suhoor as they are high in sodium. This will make you feel more thirsty. So add some potassium rich food in your suhoor as they retain water and suppresses your thirst For example: a small banana, dates, beans or a handful of nuts.
Points to take away:
To start reaping all the benefits of fasting, we should observe fasts in a proper way, a way that doesn't change it into feasting. It is hard to correct all the habits at one go. But you have to start somewhere right? No matter how small that habit is. So, for this Ramadan I want you to try the following changes:
1. Not to hog everything at once at iftar. Begin with dates or fruits and then have the rest of your meal after a short break.
2. Make sure that there is a source of protein in your iftar and suhoor meals.
3. Avoid all the sugary drinks and replace it with plain water, buttermilk, lemon water or fruit infused water.
4. Wherever, possible use cooking methods like steaming, grilling, baking or pan frying instead of deep frying.
5. Remember, that young children learn from you. So teach them the actual purpose of Ramadan, which is fasting and worshiping and not feasting. Make them develop good eating habits of Ramadan from an early age.
May the holy spirit of Ramadan lighten your souls and nourish your body!!
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