Health Watch

09 Jul 2015
POSTED BY Y Magazine
During Ramadan, it’s important to keep an eye on your body and adjust to the month-long changes

Ramadan is a special occasion for worshipping and praying. It is also a time when families prepare their favourite traditional foods and sit down together with relatives and friends to enjoy them.



While we have entered the fourth week of Ramadan, many are still following bad eating habits and routines. Dr Anita Gupta, a clinical dietician, and Dr Deepa Nair, a general practitioner at Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi, part of the group which has clinics in Muscat, have drawn up some guidelines to follow during the month of Ramadan to keep in tip-top health.

  • During the hottest part of the day, stay in cool areas (indoors or in the shade) and limit your physical activity. Rest if possible.
  • Eat Suhoor just prior to dawn. This morning meal is generally recognised as the single most important meal of the day. Avoid overeating, taking heavy meals before sleeping will put the body under stress.
  • Changes in your eating and sleeping habits can put the body under stress. Plan your schedule and meals ahead of time in order to make sure you get the necessary nutrients, hydration, and rest that your body needs.

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  • Take foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates and protein, fruits or vegetables, and plenty of water. For example: an egg on whole-grain toast, a few crackers with peanut butter, some orange slices, and two glasses of water. Take care to include mineral rich foods such as banana, raisins, cheese, yoghurt, beans and spinach in your diet.
  • Break your fast with dates and either milk, water, or fruit juice. After the Maghrib prayer, continue with a light starter such as soup and crackers or a handful of oats. After a long period of fasting, you need to bring your fluids and blood sugar level up without overdoing it.
  • During the early evening (after Maghrib), make sure you have a well-balanced dinner, which contains items from each of the food groups such as bread, cereals, fish, chicken, meat, vegetables, fruits and dairy products. Eat your meals slowly. For the bread or cereal group – especially for Suhoor – choose from whole grains, seeds, oats, semolina, beans, lentils, rice and wheat, as these are slow digesting foods. They can last up to eight hours and help keep you going and prevent constipation.

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  • Different coloured vegetables and fruits will provide you with the phytonutrients and antioxidants necessary for your body’s protection against certain diseases
  • Fasting can often increase gastric acidity levels, leading to heaviness in the stomach, burning sensations or a sour mouth. To avoid this, it is better to eat foods rich in fibre such as whole wheat bread or cereals with milk, beans, hummus, vegetables and fruit for Suhoor.
  • Do not overeat, and be sure to drink a few more glasses of fluids. Water flushes out toxins from our body and prevents dehydration. Sip on water throughout the evening. Aim for eight glasses by bedtime. To help you keep track, fill and refill a water bottle with a measured amount of water, and be sure to finish it.

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  • During the evening hours, resist the temptation to drink tea, coffee, cola and soda. When visiting friends or family, ask for glasses of water.
  • Serve yourself, your family, and guests a dessert of fresh fruit and nuts. There are lovely choices available in this season and they are much healthier than chocolates and candy.
  • Light exercise, such as walking for 15-20 minutes, is best done in the evening hours. Do not over exercise.

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  • Avoid fried and spicy foods as they may cause heartburn or indigestion. Also avoid salty food, as this can make you feel thirsty during long hours of fasting.
  • Poorly controlled diabetics, diabetics on insulin, diabetics on oral medication, severe hypertensive and cardiac patients should not fast without previous consultation with the doctor.
  • Continue to brush and floss your teeth several times a day for good dental hygiene.

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  • Wash your hands regularly, and avoid those who cough or sneeze. This is important to prevent the spread of viruses (such as seasonal flu and H1N1) and bacteria, which may cause illness.
  • Organise your schedule so that you get enough sleep.
  • Plan your menu so as to avoid constipation, acidity, kidney stones, lethargy, dehydration, muscle cramps, headaches and low blood sugar, which are the most common health problems during Ramadan.

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