Top tips for a healthy Ramadan

30 Jun 2016
POSTED BY Alvin Thomas

Ramadan is a special occasion for worshipping but it is also a celebration for families to prepare their favourite traditional foods to share and enjoy with relatives and friends. However, many of us follow poor eating habits and routines during Ramadan. Below are some tips, provided by Dr Francy Pullikan, a specialist in internal medicine at Burjeel Hospital in Al Khuwair, to follow during the month of Ramadan:

  • Changes in your eating and sleeping habits can put the body under stress. Plan your schedule and meals ahead of time to ensure you get the necessary nutrients, hydration, and rest that your body needs.
  • Eat Suhoor just before 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.
  • Take foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates and protein; fruit or vegetables, and plenty of water. 
  • During the hottest part of the day, stay in cool areas (indoors or in shade) and limit your physical activity. Rest if possible.
  • Break your fast with dates and either milk, water, or fruit juice. After the Maghreb 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 Maghreb), have a healthy and balanced dinner that contains items from each of the food groups.
  • Different coloured vegetables and fruits will give you 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 wholewheat bread or cereals, with milk, beans, hummus, vegetables and fruit.
  • Do not overeat, and be sure to drink a few more glasses of fluid. 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.
  • During the evening hours, resist the temptation to drink tea, coffee or pop. 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 this season, and they are much healthier than chocolates and sweets.
  • Light exercise, such as walking for 15 to 20 minutes, is best undertaken in the evening hours. Do not over-exercise.
  • Avoid fried and spicy foods as they may cause heartburn or indigestion, and 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 the dental hygiene.
  • Organise your schedule so that you get enough sleep.
  • Plan your menu so as to avoid constipation, acidity, kidney stones, lethargy, dehydration, muscle cramps, headache and low blood sugar, which are common health problems during Ramadan.

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