With the month of Ramadan just around the corner, I’ve heard many people wanting to eat healthy and avoid weight gain. Ramadan brings with it a feast of dishes, lots of sweets, and late evening meals. With the long fasting hours, nutrient-rich foods are needed to provide energy for day-to day activities. Choosing the right foods will help give optimum energy while remaining healthy.
Follow these 5 tips below for a healthy Ramadan:
Moderation is Key
The traditional Iftar involves, dates then water or yogurt, followed by soup, salad and a main course, which are all based on foods to replenish your energy stores. However, eating too much of any single food will accumulate and lead to weight gain throughout the month. Try to eat in moderation, go for 1-2 dates only to break your fast leaving room for the rest of the food items, which will also give you energy. Try to control your portions at the main dish and eat one main dish instead of many or these will add calories.
Avoid Fried Foods
Pastries, cheese rolls, fatayer, sambousak…these appetizers are always available at any Iftar table and may be hard to resist. Instead of frying them, bake them to reduce the amount of oil and eat them in moderation. Similarly, avoid fried sweets. Fried foods are high in fat, not only do they add calories but they are also hard to digest especially after a long fast.
Limit the Sweets
Try to limit the dessert when possible and this will save you from a huge amount of fat, sugar and calories. Save the sweets for Eid! Similarly, try and avoid sweet juices and beverages such as jallab and apricot syrup, which are high in sugar. Many of us are under the assumption that we need the sugar for our bodies. However, you can get natural sugar from other sources that will also give you nutrients. Fruits are great options for the sweet tooth, similarly dried fruits-dates, dried apricots, prunes, and raisins that are readily available during this month. Just don’t forget about the moderation!
Hydrate your Body
Fasting leaves your body dehydrated, therefore it’s important to drink at least 8 cups of water to re-hydrate your body. Soup, salad, and fruits are also good sources of fluid that add to hydrating your body, which is why these foods are traditionally part of every Iftar. Watermelon is a great summer fruit rich in water. Limit salt, condiments, and spices that leave you thirsty.
Choose the Right Sohoor
Sohoor is also a meal that provides additional nutrition. Avoid foods that add fat and leave you thirsty and with a sugar crash the next day like ‘manakeesh’ or junk foods. Choose foods that will provide slow release of nutrients to keep you full for the next day such as a sandwich made with whole wheat bread, low fat yogurt, or dried fruits and raw nuts. Remember to hydrate!
Although, Ramadan involves a change in routine, following the tips above, you can stay in control. Why not assess your nutritional status before fasting begins and set your goals for the month? Pre-planning and organizing your meals will help keep your health in control.