Ramadan is a sacred time of reflection, and even though the usual eating routine changes for the month, it is possible to stay healthy. In fact, during Ramadan you will be fasting on average for 15 hours and eating for 9 hours. This type of intermittent fasting raises your growth hormone levels, lowers your insulin, and reduces sugar cravings, so you are already making healthy choices. In order to make it an even healthier Ramadan, below are some easy and simple tips to keep in mind.
Break your fast the traditional way
Yes! We all agree that dates and water are the best way to break your fast. Dates are a good source of fiber which regulate your glucose levels and offer a source of minerals and vitamins. Drinking water is recommended to rehydrate your body and make you feel full.
Add soup to your menu
Soups are a great source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and can also hydrate your body. When it comes to picking a soup, go for lentils, chicken/meat with veggies or mushroom soup. These soups provide proteins, carbohydrates and iron to your body.
Swap with healthier alternatives
Use light cooking cream instead of full fat, cook with vegetable oil instead of butter, and make your own soups and broths instead of buying ready-made ones. These simple swaps will make a huge difference on your health without compromising the deliciousness on your tastebuds.
Choose your greens
Fuel your body by making salads with vegetables high in water content such as lettuce, rocket leaves, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Drizzle your homemade dressing made from lemon or balsamic vinegar mixed with olive oil. Remember to be mindful when adding the latter (stick to 1-2 teaspoons per serving) and try to avoid the additional salad toppings such as corn, bread, and avocado. As a general rule, build your salads with as many greens as possible.
Keep it simple
When it’s Iftar time, we often tend to diversify our options and end up overeating. To avoid this, keep it simple by only preparing 2 main dishes rich in carbohydrates like whole-grain rice, potatoes, burghul, or quinoa, topped with lean proteins such as chicken, beef, or fish cooked with vegetable oil instead of butter and margarine. Don’t forget to add your low-fat yogurt for extra probiotics and calcium.
Fruits (raw or dried), homemade sweets such as ‘Meghli’,’Rez bil halib’, and raw nuts are all ideal options for snacking. It is ok to indulge yourself with your favorite sweets in moderation; just make sure it’s 2 to 3 hours after iftar to avoid bloating and delayed digestion.
Water comes first as it is crucial for increasing energy levels, maintaining brain function, relieving fatigue, and flushing toxins out of the body. Daily recommendations are 8 to 10 cups of water while limiting caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee, sodas and energy drinks.
Avoid sugary drinks
Swap drinks that are highly loaded with sugar such as sodas, ‘kamar el din’, fruit juices, ‘Jallab’ with sparkling water, infused water with lemon or mint, homemade lemonade, or some herbal teas.
Make it a healthy Suhoor
Treat your Suhoor as your Pre-Ramadan breakfast. Balance your carbohydrates (rolled oats or whole grain bread), proteins (white cheese, eggs, nuts, and fava beans) and vegetables that are potassium- rich to prevent thirst.
Doing a low to moderate intensity exercise is advised. We usually suggest brisk walking, jogging, cycling, and light weight exercises. Working out before Iftar or 2-3 hours afterwards is highly recommended to avoid any gastrointestinal disturbances and to regulate energy levels.
Wishing you and your loved ones