A fasting person needs good, nutrient-rich food that provides the energy necessary for the priorities of daily life and no other time of year is that more important than during Ramazan when we’re fasting for long hours, some of us in very hot climates or in the summer season.
Eat Real Food, Not Processed and Junk Foods
Sure, processed foods can seem convenient, but they’re usually filled with unhealthy things like high-fructose corn syrup, MSG (to enhance flavor), lots of sodium and typically all the wrong heart-clogging oils. If you’re in a hurry, there are healthy and halal-convenient options that are particularly good for breaking the fast, so get to know the halal food businesses that make and serve them
Junk foods like chips, candies, and more are basically void of nutrients and should not be used as a side dish.
Avoid “White” Foods
White foods (i.e., white bread, white rice, white sugar, etc.) can fall into some of the above categories, but they’re worth the mention for what not to eat. White breads are made from white flour, which is processed and stripped of the nutrition that should be in bread and the same goes for rice and even the type of sugar you use. Instead, choose breads from whole grains and organic brown rice (even basmati). Surprisingly, they don’t have to break the bank, either, since much of this is available in bulk at quality grocers like Whole Foods.
Know the Foods That Hydrate Your Body
When fasting, we’re slowly being dehydrated over the course of the day, so once we break our fast and during the non-fasting period we need to have foods that put water into our body, not deplete it further. It can be difficult to eat a lot of watermelon or squash, even though they’re super-hydrating foods, but you can make juices out of the fruits and soups out of the vegetables to give your body the additional water it needs. Avoid salty spice mixes and condiments that sneak their way into our rice and meat dishes only to leave us wondering why we’re so thirsty afterwards. A great way to break the fast is to enjoy your favorite dates, of course, but also consider having coconut water, or making smoothies, coolers and fruity drinks which are super-hydrating. They can be consumed at the Sehri (pre-dawn meal before the fasting day begins) or at the Iftar (meal at the time of breaking the fast) followed by soup to preface your main meal. Consider limiting coffee and tea which are very dehydrating to the body, to about half of what you normally drink. Since you don’t get to drink water while you fast during the day, you must make sure that you get enough fluids at Iftar and Sehri. Drink plenty of water between Iftar and Sehri to replenish the body.
Avoid Fried & Sugary Foods
In an effort not to spoil any cultural traditions in Ramadan foods, I’m not advocating that everyone forgo their favorite samosas or pakoras at Iftar. We should know that it’s possible to bake them instead of fry, so consider that an option. Fried foods are heavy in oil and that makes them harder to digest, especially when they’re the first foods to be eaten after a long fast.
Let’s save the sweets for ‘Eid ul Fitr (the celebration that comes after the month of fasting) and try to hold off on as many desserts as possible to avoid any sugar crashes later in the day. If you must have something sweet, make it natural — use real honey or natural raw cane sugar in your recipes, or eat fruits that are a bit more on the sweet side to satisfy the craving… naturally.
Go Easy on the Carbs
While I love a good bowl of pasta, a hefty portion of potatoes or rice with meat, these are all carbohydrates to minimize during Ramadan. Carbohydrates are converted into sugars and can eventually take their toll on your body way after you’ve finished eating. When you do have your carbohydrates, be sure to pair them with protein-rich foods like beans, meat or eggs to balance the meal. May everyone who observes the blessed month of Ramadan have a peaceful, healthy and happy time with family, friends, and community?
The sun is roaring and it’s killing all of us.
Here are some tips to prevent heat stress:
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation makes you less energetic and increases the risk of heat stress. According to health experts, it is important to have plenty of rest at night, especially if the person abstains from eating and drinking during the day. Don’t even think of skipping Sehri. Look at the sun and imagine yourself standing right under the harsh UV rays. Fainting already, no? Skipping Sehri and lack of sleep are major contributors that can cause heat stroke. Skipping Sehri would make fasting very difficult for you and won’t let you concentrate on work or prayer.
Increase Fluid Intake
Since you don’t get to drink water while you fast during the day, you must make sure that you get enough fluids at Iftar and Sehri. Drink plenty of water between Iftar and Sehri to replenish the body.
Avoid Sun As Much As You Can
Skip sunbathing and turn on your air conditioner as soon as the calendar says it is Ramadan time. You don’t need to go out for a regular dose of vitamin D, lock yourself in an air-conditioned room. Don’t even go out to get your hands on the traditional Ramadan gifts before iftar.
Have a Balanced Diet
Avoid fatty or fried foods. People are also strongly advised to maintain a diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, yogurt, protein, milk, and some saltine snacks to stay strong and healthy while fasting. Fresh juice is also a really good option which will refresh you and blow away all your tiredness.
It is not advisable to consume large meals for some time right after breaking the fast. Your brain needs at least 20 minutes to realize that food has been consumed and it then sends signals to the rest of the body. Until then, consume lots of water to avoid water deficiency throughout the day.
While Pakistan hits either 40 degrees or 50 degrees, following these simple steps will help each and every one of you to stay healthy throughout the month of Ramazan so you could buy best Ramadan gift items for your friends and family and do your Eid shopping without passing out.