Ramadan has a great importance in the life of Muslims. This month is dedicated to making ourselves a better Muslim, which makes us a better human being. We abstain from everything that would cause us to disobey God. These things also include taking care of our body. As Muslims we are instructed to take care of our body in every way as it is a gift to us from God. These ways include cleanliness, healthy eating, exercise, abstaining from bad habits. In this article we will focus on healthy eating as a part of our Ramadan schedule.
Often when we break the fast we get carried away with the pakoras and samosas. We need to have self-control and take care of our body by consuming a balanced diet in Ramadan so that this regime can actually be beneficial for us instead of being harmful. You need to keep in mind a Ramadan health guide to keep yourself and your family from getting sick and unable to fast any further, or unable to enjoy Eid.
Your overall day should include if not all, then most of these things:
Checklist for a Healthy Ramadan
Whole grains (oats, browns rice, wheat)
Benefits: You need whole grains as you stay hungry for hours, and a lack of fiber can cause constipation which is very painful. Whole grains protect against not only constipation, but heart diseases and obesity as well.
Ways to consume: You can take whole grains in form of oatmeal for sehri, wheat based cereal like wheetabix, or brown bread. Whole wheat bun can be used to make burgers for iftar.
Whole fruits consist of complete, proper fruits, not just the fruit juice. So why do you need the entire fruit?
Benefits: Skin – The skin of the fruits contain pigments such as carotenoids and flavonoids. These pigments nourish the body and protect against cancer and UV rays. So add them to your diet.
Pulp: Pulp is the main source of fiber, and it’s what makes the fruit. It’s there for a reason, make sure you eat it.
Juicing the fruit would rob it of its nutrients and pigments that are extremely important for nourishment of the body.
Ways to consume: Fruit salad (or fruit chat) is the most common way of having fruits in Ramadan, usually at iftar. We suggest you have a bowl of fruit chaat for sehri as well. Or even a few dates, a banana, a pear or a peach for sehri. It will cool your body in the summer heat and provide you with the sugars needed to keep you up during the day.
Benefits: It’s no news that vegetables are a source of vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc. The list can goes on. Vegetable contains potassium which with balance your blood pressure. They have low calories and less cholesterol which in itself is a win-win. Vegetables contain folate which helps in making red blood cells, desperately needed during fasting. Vitamins A and C help in keeping your skin and hair healthy. The water content in vegetables and fruits will lower your risks of dehydration.
Ways to consume: Vegetables can be consumed a while after iftar, at night in the form of vegetable soup. All you have to do is boil the vegetables and form a good broth, add some lemon, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper in it, and you’ll have a good healthy soup.
You can also make a salad for iftar and add dressings to it in form of healthy yogurt chatni.
Lean meat and proteins
Benefits: Lean meats have proteins that build up tissue. It has vitamins which produce stress hormones, improve nerve function and reduce inflammation. Muscle loss can occur during fasting if one is malnutritioned. Protein will help you maintain your body functions whilst staying hungry.
Ways to consume: Lean meats do not include nihari or paye. If anything, these foods should be avoided. You can have protein in form of yummy omelets in sehri, or a “home-made” chicken karahi or korma with fewer spices. You can have a tuna fish sandwich or any other form of fish. Egg gotala is another amazing way to make eggs more delicious for yourself and your family. If anything, simple kababs do wonders to make a meal delicious and healthy. Just make sure they are fried in olive oil and not deep fried.
You can bake or grill the meat which consumes less oil. You can add pieces of chicken or fish to pasta.
Foods to Avoid
- Deep fried pakoras and samosas (you can bake the samosa after applying a thin layer of oil on the surface)
- High sugar sweets on a daily basis i.e: rasgullas, gulab jaman etc. (replace them with homemade rasmalai, barfee or puddings)
- High fat curries with too many spices. (Curries using olive oil and less spices can be used)
- Soft drinks or high sugar drinks (replace them with homemade lemonade, or watermelon blended with a little added brown sugar and water)
Prefer shallow frying instead of deep frying and use brown sugars and homemade juices if needed. Baking can also replace frying to a great extent.