Zoyna Khatri is one of Grow Fit’s diet specialists who is also observing the Ramadan fast. These are her recommendations:
“Ramadan is a holy month for purifying your heart and soul. Through fasting, you attach your soul more to Allah. I have a few ideas to make your Ramadan healthy, so you can make your soul more attached to Allah through mindful eating. Binge eating leads to fatigue and low energy and hinders our ability to offer peaceful namaz and recite the Quran. Ramadan is a great opportunity to bring back a balanced and healthy lifestyle not only to purify your soul, but also to cleanse your system and adopt a healthy lifestyle.”
“As we all know, in Ramadan, the day is divided into suhoor (pre-dawn meal) and iftar (dinner) in terms of eating.
Suhoor: The prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) has emphasised a lot on having suhoor. Why is that? In Ramadan, you can consider suhoor as breakfast. It may be very difficult to get up and prepare a wholesome meal, but don’t forget that suhoor is the most important meal of the day and during Ramadan, it’s the meal that will help you to sustain for the rest of the day. So what type of foods should be consumed for suhoor? Complex carbohydrates which are slow-digesting like barley, whole wheat, oats, millets, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour, basmati rice, jowar, bajra and brown rice. Avoid bread, vermicelli, rava, pav, buns, naan, and baked goods. Drink fluids to keep you hydrated. The best thing to add is milk or a casein-based protein supplement. It lasts for more than 3 hours in the stomach, leading to slow gastric emptying and also makes the meal protein-rich.
Some options for suhoor:
- 1 bowl porridge with milk + a handful of nuts
- wheat-based cereal with milk + a banana/other fruit
- 2 roti + sabzi + 1 glass milk + a fruit
- roasted chicken or egg (bhurji) with 2 roti + 1 fruit
- 1 cup kheer + 2 roti + a fruit
- stir-fried brown rice with 1 cup curd
- 1 glass mango milkshake without sugar (also called aamras) with 2 roti
- 1 bowl raita + 1 cup brown rice + 1 cup pulses or sprouts
The body enters a fasting state 8 hours or so after the last meal. After the fuel is used from suhoor, the body will utilise the glucose, which is stored in the liver and the muscles and is the body’s main source of energy. In the latter part of the day, once the stores of glucose run out, fat becomes the next stored source of energy for the body. In normal fasting, the next fuel which will be used is proteins from the muscles, which leads to fatigue and muscle loss. But as Ramadan fast only extends from dawn until dusk, there is ample opportunity to replenish energy stores at pre-dawn (suhoor) and dusk (iftar) meals. This makes fat loss the main source of energy, thereby preventing the breakdown of muscle for protein.
Iftar: The most commonly consumed foods by the prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) were milk, dates, lamb/mutton and oats. Healthy foods mentioned in the Holy Quran are fruit and vegetables such as olives, onions, cucumber, figs, dates and grapes, as well as pulses such as lentils. Iftar is the time you replenish energy levels, so every effort must be made to consume foods from all major food groups – fruit and vegetables, rice and alternatives, as well as white meat and alternatives (which include dairy).
Some options for iftar:
- dates + fruits + 1 cup channa chaat + roasted chicken + 2 roti
- dates + fruits + 1 cup boiled chicken soup + 1 cup curd/1 glass milkshake
- dates + fruits + 1 glass badam milk + roasted kababs (chicken) + 2 slices whole-wheat bread
- dates + roasted chicken shawarma + 1 glass falooda without mawa
- dates + pita bread with chicken, salad and hummus + fruits with custard
- dates + chicken with boiled rice, vegetable curry and mixed salad, followed by fruit salad
- dates + whole-grain pasta cooked with vegetables and chicken and fruits with custard
- dates + 1 bowl of kheer + 1 cup ragda + fruit salad
After iftar is done, most people have a cup of tea immediately. Try and avoid that as it can hinder the absorption of many good vitamins and mineral and instead, make it a cup of green tea.
Second meal before sleeping: This can be as light as a evening snack or a mid-morning or bedtime meal because after this, you will sleep. So make it more rich in protein and replenish your fluids and muscle mass.
- Avoid foods high in fat, salt and sugar
- Choose a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, beans, lentils, rice and grains
- Drink plenty of fluids and avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, energy drinks or cola
- Break the fast with a healthy snack like dates – a nutritious burst of natural sugar
- Speak to a health professional before changing medication regimes for Ramadan
- Avoid excessive exercise during fasts – if you want to go to the gym, consider doing so after iftar
Ask your Grow Fit nutritionist for a Ramadan package or, if in Bangalore, order the Ramadan meal delivery from Grow Chef (www.getgrowchef.com).