Fasting in Ramadan is one of the five Pillars of Islam, which are the most basic tenets of the religion. Every adult Muslim is expected to fast during the month for 29 (or sometimes 30) days, except those who are exempted due to a stipulated number of conditions.
So, during Ramadan, Muslims make some changes in their daily routines including their eating and sleeping patterns.
Due to those alterations, their biological system also undergoes a series of changes both physically and mentally, which necessitates eating the right diet at Sahur (dawn) and iftar (dusk).
Here are some of the types of food recommended for both Sahur and Iftar:
What to eat during Sahur
Foods that are high in protein are especially recommended for Sahur due to their ability to take longer time to digest and therefore help a fasting Muslim stay less hungry.
Foods such as eggs, beef, lamb, poultry, fish, seafood, milk, etc are high in protein and other nutrients and can be made or cooked in different ways to suit one’s preference.
Fiber is incredibly an important source of nutrition, but what makes it particularly important during Sahur is its ability to leave your stomach undigested for many hours.
Certain types of fiber may also promote weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, and fight constipation. Examples of fibre-rich foods include: avocados, berries, apples, whole grains (such as wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and oats), green beans and peas, nuts, vegetables, etc.
Calcium and vitamin-rich food
High calcium foods include milk, yoghurt, cheese, leafy greens, beans, and okra. So adding a yoghurt smoothie or a vanilla milkshake to your Sahur meal can’t be a bad idea, as it can help one stay full and hydrated throughout the day.
What to avoid during Sahur
Simple or refined carbohydrates
These foods such as sugars, white flour, pastries, doughnuts and cereals provide satisfaction for only three to four hours and are low in essential nutrients. So they’re highly discouraged during Sahur.
An imbalance of sodium levels in your body makes you very thirsty while fasting, so try to avoid salty or highly seasoned foods, as well as food that contain soya sauce.
Drinks that have caffeine lead to insomnia and restlessness. Drinks such as coffee, green tea, energy drinks, etc have high caffeine content. They are discouraged during Sahur because they don’t hydrate the body and they can leave a fasting Muslim thirsty the whole day.
What to eat during Iftar
Drink as much water or natural fruit juices as possible between iftar and bedtime to avoid dehydration.
Potassium is necessary for the proper function of the body system. Some of its key roles include minimizing cramps and maintaining the fluid balance in the body. Foods that are high in potassium include beans, dark leafy greens, potatoes, yogurt, oranges, and bananas. Dates are nutrient powerhouses that are a good source of potassium and an excellent food to break your fast.
Cucumbers, lettuce and other vegetables are high in fibre and water. They not only help your body feel cool, but are also a great choice for keeping your skin healthy and avoiding constipation during Ramadan.
What to avoid during iftar
Avoid drinking processed beverages and carbonated drinks (such as Milo, Bournvita, Fanta, Coke, etc) which are usually high in sugar, increasing your risk of overweight and obesity, and can cause bloating and gas, leading to indigestion. Stick to regular water or natural fruit juices to quench your thirst.
High-sugar foods such as sweets and chocolates should be avoided as they contain very little nutritional value and are high in calories. They contribute to weight gain and can lead to health issues if consumed every day.
Oily and fried food, such as fried beef, samosas, pastries etc should be avoided or at least minimized as they are loaded with fat and stored in the body as fatty tissue. Eating fatty foods after long hours of fasting causes acidity and indigestion.
- What to Eat and What to Avoid During Ramadan by Dr Ismet Tamer, Member, Nutrition Advisory Board
- Ramadan food tips: What to eat and what to avoid by Khaleej Times