As the holy holidays are upon us, many of us and our friends are preparing to fast for Ramadan, Paryushana, Mother Mary’s Feast and other occasions. Such experiences are not only healing for the soul but can also be good for the body. However, many come through these experiences actually gaining unwelcome kilos and damaging their health.
Dr. Vinay Bhardwaj of Grow says: “Intermittent fasting has recently been advocated in various health circles for not just losing weight but also prolonging life. We can take inspiration from these protocols to ensure that religious fasting also contributes to health.”
When breaking your fast this season, try and follow these broad guidelines and recommendations:
Step 1: Cut sugar. Feast and famine experiences can actually damage the body. Fasting during the day should not be followed by bingeing on sugary foods. However hard it may seem, we must resist the desserts that have become as much a part of our festivals as the fasting. Break your fast with plenty of liquids, dates and nuts instead and fortify yourself with coconut water before and after the fast. Excess sugar wreaks havoc on your insulin levels, which, in turn, makes the next day of fasting more difficult and tiring.
Step 2: Eat fibre. On breaking your fast, avoid the maida-based foods (even if they are baked). Oil is not your enemy as much as high-GI (glycaemic index) fruits and foods. Instead, reach for fibrous and low-sugar fruits such as guavas, melons, pears, prunes and apples. It’s a good idea to have a fibre supplement like Isabgol (psyllium husk) to keep yourself regular and feeling full during the fasting season. Take some before going to bed with plenty of water.
Step 3: Avoid bingeing. After a hard day of fasting, you may want to jump on the delicious biriyani or plump puris. Instead of eating a very large meal, eat a number of smaller meals and make sure you are drinking plenty of water.
Step 4: Eat fat. We are of the opinion that fat is not the enemy, sugar is. If you can cut out the maidas, rice and sugar, then it is okay to consume nuts, avocados and healthy fats. Nuts, seeds, chicken breast, fish, etc. have the healthiest mixture of fats in them.
Step 5: Avoid breaking your fast with a heavy meal. Try and break your fast with liquids and plenty of electrolytes (like coconut water) and wait 10-15 minutes before having anything solid. Your brain will be less likely to make you binge.
Step 6: Take a multivitamin. Finally, for those of you who are not used to fasting and only do it during the holidays, it might be a good idea to take a multivitamin for the duration of the festival season. Any good one-a-day multivitamin will help make sure that the special festival menu and fasting don’t interfere with the absorption of crucial vitamins and minerals.
Ask your Grow Fit nutritionist for a Ramadan package or, if in Bangalore, order the Ramadan meal delivery from Grow Chef (chef.getgrowchef.com).