Healthy food habits for Ramadan | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 23, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:42 AM, May 28, 2017

A note on nutrition

Healthy food habits for Ramadan

It is common knowledge that fasting has myriad health benefits. Besides increasing immunity, endurance, and the ability to face challenges, fasting contributes to our outward physical appearance by getting rid of excess fat. 

It alleviates a number of diseases, including chronic stomachaches, inflammation of the colon, liver diseases, indigestion, and conditions such as obesity, arteriosclerosis, hypertension, asthma, diphtheria and others.

For obvious reasons, it is important to maintain a proper diet in the coming days of Ramadan. As most of us will be fasting all day, a well-balanced intake of food and fluid is important between dusk and dawn. 

Sehri should be wholesome and moderate— filling as well as supplying sufficient energy till iftar. It is recommended that the meal should be light and include slow digesting food. At iftar, have plenty of fluids rich in vitamins (sherbet, juices or if you prefer, whole fruits). 

Following Prophetic tradition, it is customary to open the fast with dates, which is unique in its nutrient content — a unique blend of glucose and fructose (for short and long term energy); high level of potassium (about 64 percent more than bananas), and a special blend of carbohydrate that ensures hydration above and beyond water alone. It also has beta-D-glucan, which is a soluble fibre that gives the stomach a 'full' feeling. 

The thumb rule of diet during the entire month should be to include foods from all the major food groups:

Fruit and vegetables

Bread, other cereals and potatoes

Meat, fish and alternatives

Milk and dairy foods

Foods containing fat and sugar

Food to be avoided 

Fried and fatty foods like pakoras, samosas, parathas, oily curries and greasy pastries, etc.

Foods containing too much sugar

Over-eating especially during sehri

Too much tea at sehri. Tea is a diuretic, that is, it increases urine production, which results in the loss of minerals. 

Food to be taken 

Complex carbohydrates during sehri so that the food lasts longer in the stomach making us less hungry

Haleem is an excellent source of sugar, fibre, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium

Almonds are rich in protein and fibre with less fat

Bananas are a good source of potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates. 

Drink

Drink as much water or fruit juices as possible between iftar and bedtime so that the body may adjust the fluid levels in time.

Healthy alternatives

Whole grains, such as chickpeas, samosas (baked instead of fried)

Chapattis made without oil, baked or grilled meat and chicken 

Milk-based sweets and puddings

Cooking methods to be avoided

Deep frying

Frying

Curries with excessive oil

Healthy cooking methods

Shallow frying (usually there is little difference in taste)

Grilling or baking is healthier and helps retain the taste and original flavour of the food, especially with chicken and fish.

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