Since the holy month of Ramadan has started, everybody is busy planning for this blessed and spiritual period. A month where the whole family gathers on Iftar tables sharing not only meals, but also warmth, generosity, and peace. A sentiment that will bereflected across the homes of Muslims all around the world, each displaying an element of uniqueness depending on the specific habits and details that vary from country to house.
Whatever is your way, I encourage you to get good nutrition and stay healthy all through this blessed month – which happens to be a bit different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic happening around the world – but we can still make it special!
Fasting has been shown to improve your immunity and health, only if you make sure to follow the below steps that keep you and your family in good shape:
- Drink enough water and fluids from Iftar to Suhur to keep your body hydrated and prevent constipation. Women need around 2 liters of water per day, while men need around 3 liters. Avoid having too many juices or sugary drinks, and or soft drinks to prevent thirst, and adding extra unneeded calories. A smart way to have a good lemonade is to add some apple or kiwi juice to lemon juice instead of sugars. It will neutralize its sour taste.
- Sleep 6-8 hours a day to get sufficient mental and physical rest and allow the body to recharge for the following day of fast.
- Have a balanced and varied Iftar meal that includes all major food groups: whole grains, proteins, fruits, and vegetables, dairies, and healthy fats. Avoid eating large amounts of food to prevent extreme fullness.
- Limit the availability of appetizers and starters or sweets to prevent weight gain. Choose baked appetizers instead of fried.
- Keep on exercising by engaging in light activities like walking and stretching.
- Make sure to have a light Suhur meal to fill your body with lasting energy that helps regulate your blood sugar levels during the following day. Choose whole grains and lean proteins. An example would be granola with yogurt and fruits or goat cheese with vegetables on whole-grain bread.
- Avoid foods high in salts such as pickles, salty crackers, and nuts, or canned foods as they might make you thirsty.
- Eat and chew slowly and engage in conversations with the people around you.
It is quite easy to gain weight during this month! Therefore, I have prepared a list of tips for you to keep that weighing scale happy during this period. All you have to do is prepare and eat from fresh ingredients, cooked in a healthy and nutritious manner.
- Choose fresh vegetables as they contain higher amounts of vitamins and minerals. If cooked, steaming, grilling, sautéing (with healthy oils), roasting, and microwaving are ways to retain those nutrients.
- Choose fresh fruits instead of juices to prevent excess sugar intake and get more fibers. Make sure to eat the peels which help you fighting constipation. Dates are a good option too, however, try not exceeding the amount of 2 to 3 dates per meal.
- Opt for low-fat milk and dairy products. Nut milk is a good option too.
- Instead of butter or ghee that are high in saturated fats, substitute them with healthy vegetable oils in moderate amounts. Olive oil and avocado oil are great options. We need to keep this heart pumping!
- Try using lean meat like veal or cow meat, fish and skinless chicken breast, and prepare them by grilling, boiling and baking rather than frying. Seafood like salmon, seabass fish and tuna are options to boost immunity and memory as they provide you with omega-3 fatty acids.
Last, I would like to highlight on the importance of being mindful and aware during this month to get out of it as stronger, healthier, and happier people. Choose wisely your foods, use healthy cooking methods, control the size of your portions, and vary what you eat.