Ramadan can be the perfect opportunity for the new healthy beginning your body has been craving. 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 Ramadan when we’re fasting for long hours, some of us in very hot climates or in the summer season.

Here are my top tips for eating healthy during that short time of day when we can eat and drink:

Have a light iftar

The iftar meal isn’t supposed to make up those hours you spent without food. Forget that you haven’t eaten all day and imagine you have sat down for your dinner meal and eat accordingly.

Break your fast with dates as they are a quick source of the sugar your body needs after a fast. You don’t need to have more than one date. Then, go for a small portion of soup, such as a vegetable or lentil soup. If you want to lose weight then avoid cream based soups. Follow it with a mixed vegetable salad.

When you are done with your starter, it is important to take a break. You don’t want to overwhelm your digestive system. Complete your prayers, take a five minute walk, or hold a conversation. When you’re ready to resume your meal, choose only one main dish, choose wisely. Although you need carbohydrates such as rice, bread and pasta for energy, try to make them as nutrient-dense as possible. So have more of a vegetable and (meat) strew with less rice than usual, because the vegetables and then meat are more nutrient-dense than rice. Also, avoid fried dishes and processed foods.

Avoid processed foods

Processed foods can be convenient, but they’re usually high in fat, salt and sugar, everything we need to be limiting in our diet. Junk foods like chips, sweets, chocolate, and more are void of essential nutrients and should not be used as a side dish. Finally control your portions, one plateful of food with a small dessert should be enough.

Don’t skip suhur

Suhur is the pre-dawn breakfast before the fast, will help you get less hungry the next day. Again, choose what to eat wisely. Make your suhur more complex carbohydrates based with a good source of protein such as yogurt and eggs. Complex carbohydrates are foods that help release energy slowly during the long hours of fasting. They are found in foods such as barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils and wholemeal flour. Fibre-rich foods are also digested slowly and include bran, cereals, whole wheat, grains and seeds, potatoes with the skin on, vegetables such as green beans, and almost all fruit, including apricots, prunes and figs. This combination will ensure you have a stable level of glucose in your blood so you get less hungry the next day.

If you are having breakfast cereals make sure they are low in sugar and salt. Limiting your salt intake will help you avoid getting thirsty the next day. Most importantly try to not skip suhur.

Avoid caffeine

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.

Avoid adding salt

Try to avoid adding salt to your food and eating salty food as this can make you feel thirsty.

Drink plenty of water

This is the obvious one that is sometimes forgotten.

Wishing you a healthy Ramadan!

About Gem Hunter Kawther Hashem

kawther gem hunter

Kawther Hashem is a registered public health nutritionist and a researcher for CASH (Consensus Action on Salt and Health) and its international arm WASH (World Action on Salt and Health), a charity organisation concerned with the health effects of a high salt diet.