This year’s Ramadan is a long one. This is not only because of the long hours — with fasting expected to last nearly 15 hours a day — but also because of the scorching summer heat.
Especially now that we have entered into the second half of this sacred month, people are really starting to feel those hunger pangs, and finding it harder to maintain healthy eating habits. Here are some tips on how to healthily get through these long days of fasting and make the best of this month.
1. A word on dates
It is customary to break the fast with dates, which give a spike in blood sugar and a burst of energy. Therefore ensure you drink plenty of water before the dates to re-hydrate and fill up so that you don’t overindulge.
2. Start with a salad
After ending the fast with dates and milk, comfort your stomach by eating a fresh fruit or vegetable salad to enhance your digestive ability. Vegetable soups are ideal too.
3. Eat slowly
Eating your food slowly at iftar will help ease your digestive system into processing food and prevent you from overeating.
4. Grill, steam, poach
It is best to avoid hot and spicy dishes as well as high-fat foods, as they increase thirst. So opt for dishes cooked in healthier ways such as grilling, baking, broiling, steaming and poaching.
5. Don’t forget proteins
Pair carbohydrates with protein. Carbs are converted into sugars and can eventually take their toll on your body once you are done with iftar. Combine them with protein-rich foods like beans, meat or eggs to balance out an iftar or sehri meal and help with your workout efforts.
6. Choose complex carbs
During sehri, focus your meal on slow-releasing carbohydrates to stabilize blood sugar levels, such as sweet potatoes, and also eat lots of nutritious fruits like berries and plenty of vegetables.
7. Shop fresh, not processed
One way to ensure you are well hydrated during the month is to include a balanced amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet. This needn’t be a chore, since healthy, tasty fruits can easily be combined into recipes, or eaten as a light pre-sehri or post-iftar snack.
8. Don’t skip sehri
An essential meal, sehri helps in preventing tissue breakdown, while offering the strength needed to last the long Ramadan days.
9. It’s not survival its revival!
If you are thinking of surviving in Ramadan, then you’ve got it all wrong. Get your basics right by understanding the true spirit and intention of fasting. Once you get that in place you will look forward to it, be happy with it and cherish every day. Think of it as a blessing and that changes almost everything.
10. When to exercise
One of the most commonly asked questions in the lead-up to Ramadan is ‘Should I be exercising or not?’ The answer: with adequate thought, planning and preparation, exercising and fasting will keep your goals on track and could even give your results a boost. If your goal is fat loss, then the best time to train is before sehri, and it should be 30-45 minutes, moderate intensity.
11. Load up on supplements
During Ramadan, your face doesn’t need to suffer. Skin supplements are usually a group of several vitamins and antioxidants that can enhance its well-being. Take supplements before sehri, as you are able to get the benefits of these supplements during fasting hours, which are usually when the skin is exposed to all environmental factors.
12. Brush and floss regularly
It is imperative to maintain healthy oral hygiene even during Ramadan. There are some simple ways to ensure our teeth, gums and mouths remain unaffected while fasting. This includes drinking plenty of water from iftar until sehri. Brush teeth and clean gums twice for two minutes, use dental floss to avoid the accumulation of bacteria, and use a tongue scraper as it helps reduce bad breath.
13. Stay hydrated
You should be drinking plenty of water between iftar and sehri to stay adequately hydrated during the holy month. Don’t drink large volumes over a short period, as this can lead to water intoxication; regular small sips are what’s needed.