We often find in Ramadhan, the time spent in the kitchen increases, funnily enough, because we open our fasts with ridiculously huge feasts. Essential foods for Ramadhan are missed out while fried foods, fizzy drinks and large meals take their place. The concept of Ramadhan and spending the month fasting is not to have a massive meal at the end of it; our bodies should be looked after in this month to help us gain the most out of it.
When a long period of fast ends, your body is in a starvation state. It has not received food for a long period of time and uses stores of carbohydrates and fats along with the food eaten during the night to provide energy throughout the day. We need to consciously be aware that what we eat will fuel our bodies the next fasting day and have a direct effect on our energy levels as well as concentration. It is of upmost importance to eat foods that are of nutritious value. Perhaps include in your goals for Ramadhan to be more aware of what you are eating .
No doubt, this is an area where it can be difficult to comprehend what foods should be consumed, simply because not much is taught on this subject. Though the eating pattern in this month are different because we eat less meals, it is essential to maintain a balanced diet. It is essential to eat at the prescribed times, particularly suhoor:
Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Take Suhoor as there is a blessing in it.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Suhoor is our meal for the day; the food we eat for Suhoor will be the main form of energy throughout the day. Many people often go without suhoor and this can lead to the dangerous situation of simply not having enough carbohydrates to fuel you through the day, subsequently leading to an unhealthy weight loss. Though some may see this is as a positive thing, this weight loss will also include deficiencies in key minerals and vitamins – which is not good!
Complex carbohydrates are foods that the body digests slowly which allows a slow, steady release of energy. Brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, wholegrain based foods – these all are examples of complex carbohydrates which means they release energy slowly over a long period of time, unlike refined sugars that give you a quick boost. refined carbohydrates are found in process foods such as cakes, biscuits, sweets as well as sugar and white flour. Foods with empty calories i.e. foods that do not have a nutritional value such as biscuits, cakes and other processed foods, should be avoided at all costs. These foods also have a high fibre content; fibre is essential for the diet, helping to keep you fuller for longer and maintain a healthy bowl habit, something else that can be effected by Ramadhan.
With long summer days, our bodies will be losing water throughout and not receiving any new hydration. This can often lead to mind dehydration so it is crucial to drink water upon opening the fast. Eating foods that are fluid rich, such as soup, fruits and vegetables is also suggested in order to aid replacing lost water. It is also important to avoid foods that are high in salt; salt stimulates thirst.
Fibre is an example of a complex carbohydrate however is it not digested by the human body. It plays a role in keeping the digestive tract healthy and keeps you feeling full for longer, essential for Ramadhan! Fibre does not give any calories yet plays an essential role in our diet. Ramadhan is a time many find themselves constipated, so ensuring you eat plenty of high fibre foods will help tackle this problem. Fibre is found in fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, pulses and wholegrain foods.
Healthy fats have a protective factor on the heart, provides a back up source of energy and is essential in absorbing vitamins and minerals. Foods such as avocado, eggs, fish are sources of healthy fats. Oils such as coconut oil and olive oil also contain healthy fats.
Protein is an essential part of a balanced diet as it formulates the basis of many parts of the body such as muscles, hair, nails, skin and even bones. Fish and chicken as well as egg, beans and nuts are great ways to get a large quantity into your diet. Be mindful of how you cook these; grilling and baking are preferred over frying. If you chose to fry, ensure to use healthy oils such as coconut oil to keep the fat content low.
What else would you include in this list? Leave a comment below!