Including foods to stock up on and ones to avoid.

Fasting during the Holy Month can get difficult, especially during the peak of summer. Follow these tips to ensure you have a healthy Ramadan and avoid health problems.

1. Don’t skip meals

Avoid skipping meals, especially Suhoor. Eating slow carbs as you wake up will give you lasting energy throughout the day. If you don’t have a large appetite early in the morning, a glass of milk, a few nuts and dates are recommended. For those who eat heavier meals in the morning, wheat kaboos with hummus or chicken is ideal.

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Remember to drink at least two to three glasses of water before you begin fasting to avoid feeling dehydrated during the fasting hours.

2. Go slow when you break your fast

Coconut-coated dates with laban, avocado juice with fruits or dried fruit or soups are the perfect choice of foods to opt for when you break your fast. A good mix of carbs, proteins, fruits and vegetables should be included in your meals.

3. Load up on B complex vitamins

Having a B complex vitamin like neurobion at Suhoor has shown to keep energy levels up during the fasting period.

4. Foods to be avoided

Fasting can often increase gastric acidity levels in the stomach, causing a burning feeling and heaviness in the stomach. This experience can be avoided by eating foods rich in fibre. It’s also important to avoid fried foods, very spicy foods, salty foods and foods containing too much sugar. Sweets can cause health problems like indigestion, heartburn, and weight problems and should not be part of your diet, especially on an empty stomach.

Too much salty food make your body retain water and give you the feeling of being bloated, while spicy foods also induce thirst. Sweets and sugary foods are fast burning and will only last for three to four hours. Incidentally these will turn into fat, increase cholesterol levels and make you gain weight.

5. What to drink

Drinks with high caffeine content (coffee, tea, chocolate, sodas and even decaffeinated teas and coffees) should be avoided. Caffeine percolates calcium from your system, which makes you feel less full all the time. Avoid drinking tea at Suhoor, as tea increases salt excretion in the urine, which is needed for your body during fasting. The ideal beverage would be water, or if you’re feeling more dehydrated than usual, try adding a slice of lime, strawberries or even mint to your glass of water.

6. Work out (mildly)

Light physical activity is also recommended and will keep your body supple and fit. During the summer, your body can also mistake the lack of water for hunger, and could cause you to ingest more than your body can handle. Ensure to drink plenty of water when breaking your fast. Click here to discover a gentle routine perfect for the Holy Month.

7. Self-Discipline

As Ramadan fasting is basically an exercise in self-discipline, for those who are chain smokers, food nibblers or caffeine addicts etc, it is a good opportunity to break the habit, hoping that the effect will continue when the month is over.

Ramadan is the time to practice self-restraint, a time to cleanse the body from impurities and re-focus on one’s self. Let this Ramadan bring about the changes that will last a lifetime for you.

Be safe and healthy this season – Ramadan Kareem!

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Words: Alexandria Gouveia
Health tips by Dr Atul Aundhekar, Chief Medical Director, iCARE Clinics