Ramadan is coinciding with the summer equinox, meaning we’d be fasting during the longest days of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere). I've taken this opportunity to collate some dietary advices that will make those fasts easier for us and help us achieve the health benefits of fasting, inshaAllah. Fasting can be very good for our health if done correctly. So, let’s do it right. Have two meals a day & don’t skip Suhoor
With the night being so short, some people develop the habit of having just a single meal when breaking fast. That is wrong! Have at least two meals a day – the pre-dawn meal (Suhoor) and a meal at dusk (Iftar). [Source: NHS]
 Balanced Diet
Dr Razeen Mahroof , an anaesthetist from Oxford, says your food intake should be simple and not differ too much from your normal diet. It should contain foods from all the major food groups:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Bread, cereals and potatoes
- Meat, fish or alternatives
- Milk and dairy foods
- Foods containing fat and sugar
 Foods to avoid
Foods to avoid are:
- Fast-burning, heavily processed foods that contain refined carbohydrates (sugar and white flour
- High-sugar and high-fat foods (such as cakes, biscuits, chocolates and sweets such as Indo-Pak mithai)
- High-fat cooked foods – such as parathas, oily curries and greasy pastries
- Deep-fried foods - such as pakoras, samosas and fried dumplings
It's also worth avoiding caffeine-based drinks such as tea, coffee and cola. Caffeine is a diuretic and stimulates faster water loss through urination.
 Suhoor Ideas
Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, should be a wholesome, moderate meal that is filling and provides enough energy for many hours.
“Suhoor should be light and include slow digesting food like pitta bread, salad, cereal (especially oats) or toast, so that you have a constant release of energy,” Dr Mahroof says.
Suhoor is probably more important than Iftar because it helps you get through the day. Here are some great Suhoor ideas on Buzzfeed. Do visit the link, it contains some very useful and yummy ideas. Like this:
It is important to maintain a frequent intake of water: A good two litres or eight glasses of fluids a day will suffice, and it can be broken down like this:
- Two glasses at iftar
- Four glasses in between iftar and suhoor- not more than one glass per hour
- Two glasses at suhoor
Keep in mind that caffeinated drinks such as coffee or black tea do not count and it would be best to avoid these diuretic drinks all together. Instead, herbal teas make a great alternative to water and may aid your digestion.
Also, see the amazing advices on Buzzfeed on how to stay hydrated. Summary of the article is: No Juice at iftar, Stick to water, and seriously no juice!
 Want to lose weight?
Ramadan can be the perfect opportunity for the new healthy beginning your body has been craving. Short advices:
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
- Avoid types of food mentioned above
- Stay active
- Don’t skip Suhoor
- Have a light, balanced iftar (like a normal dinner) – Don’t have a feast
- Break your fast with dates, water and starters. And have a break for maghrib before maincourse
[Details can be found here: Al-Arabiya]
 Ramadan Workouts
If you're looking to continue working out during Ramadan then you're going to have to adapt the workouts you're used to doing. For muscle retention you'll probably want to limit your workouts to 2/3 times a week and keep them on the shorter side (within 30/45mins). Try to focus on the compound exercises, lifting maybe 80% of your maximum and reduce volume (reduce the number of reps).
Given the times we have to fast in the UK, you might consider working out after breaking your fast but might need to find a gym that opens late. See this link for an example of Ramadan workout time and exercises.
You'll also want to eat calorie dense foods to make sure you're not at a caloric deficit (while avoiding overeating), examples are peanut butter, olive oil, nuts, dried fruits, pasta, bread, juice, chocolate etc.
Ramadan shouldn't be all about working out, try to let the gym fall into the background. By limiting the number of workouts and their length you should have time to focus on other things during this holy month.
 A Healthy beginning
Ramadan can be an excellent opportunity to leave those unhealthy habits that you’ve been struggling with. If you’d been looking at getting into shape Ramadan might be an excellent opportunity. If you want to quit smoking, again Ramadan is an excellent opportunity. Ramadan also helps in fighting depression and stress.
 Consult your GP if you need to
It is really important that if you have a medical condition, you see your GP before Ramadan starts to discuss treatment options that do not interfere with your fast.
 Prepare yourself
Last but not least, some of us think we will suddenly be ready when Ramadan starts, but planning will make the transition a lot easier.
Happy fasting, not feasting! J