Nutritionist and clinical dietician Lama Al Naeli gives you her top 10 tips on fasting during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Follow these easy and healthy tips to stay fit during the Holy Month. The rule of thumb is to avoid gorging or “binge eating” at night. Studies show that gorging once a day is the fastest way to gain weight.
As soon as you break your fast, concentrate on getting rehydrated by drinking plenty of water. This will help prevent overeating. Drink at least eight glasses of water in small quantities to avoid bloating.
Moderation is key. Having three meals is still important during the Holy Month: Iftar, a light evening snack, and Suhoor.
Break your fast with no more than two to three dates. Remember that dates are high in calories so moderation is required to maintain a healthy weight during Ramadan.
Start your Iftar meal with a warm soup as this will comfort your stomach after a long day of fasting. This will also replenish your body fluids and prepare your digestive system at the same time.
Limit your intake of sweets i.e. fried and fatty foods such as bread and baked items; salty food such as nuts and pickles, as well as canned and processed foods as these will make you thirsty during the fasting period.
Ensure that you eat a balanced meal during Iftar. Eat carbohydrates such as brown rice, brown pasta or burghul, accompanied with some form of protein like beef, chicken or fish, along with cooked vegetables.
Control your intake of appetisers such as Sambosa. This is because deep-fried food is high in calories and fat that could increase cholesterol levels in the blood. Instead, stuff them with low fat cheese and bake them!
If you are a coffee drinker, try to reduce your intake two weeks before the Holy Month of Ramadan to avoid headaches and sleepiness.
Do some exercise just before Iftar if you feel up to it, such as going for a brisk walk. Exercising before Iftar increases your metabolic rate. Remember to hydrate yourself immediately after and eat slowly to replenish fluid and nutrients. Alternatively, you can exercise after Iftar if you feel more comfortable in doing so.
Suhour is an important meal in Ramadan. It gives you strength and vitality for the day while keeping your fast easy and tolerable. Make sure this meal is rich in slowly-absorbed carbohydrates like wholegrain bread along with a good source of protein such as labneh or cheese. Such combinations will ensure you have a stable level of glucose in your blood and won’t make you hungry during the day.