The holy month of Ramadan is a crucial month for the Muslim community across the world, both physically and spiritually with practicing restraint as one of its key learning. During this period the community observes Roza i.e. fast, which involves its members abstaining from eating and drinking, right from sunrise until sunset.
While fasting during Ramadan is a good way of improving one’s health, doing it the right way is imperative. Moreover, it can pose a challenge for people with dietary issues to practice it for the entire month. Therefore, eating healthy and ensuring the consumption of all nutrients during this period is essential.
Health tips for Ramadan: Dos and Don’ts
Following are a few tips suggested by Dr Iqbal Bagasrawala, Associate Director, Medical Affairs, Saifee Hospital, Mumbai, to help you observe a healthy and fit Ramadan fast.
Don’t miss Sehri: Also popularly known as ‘Suhoor’, this is considered to be the most important meal of the day, similar to breakfast. Sehri is the pre-dawn meal that contributes to a large extent in storing up nutrients to replenish the body’s requirement until Iftar (evening meal). Unfortunately, several people tend to avoid this meal by eating heavy dinner instead, as waking up early becomes a challenge. However, skipping Sehri can cause digestive discomfort and make your body sluggish throughout the day. Therefore, indulge in a nutritious meal that includes fibre-rich foods (figs, bananas, dates, cereals), complex carbohydrates (grains, wheat, oats), and high-protein foods (cheese, eggs, meat).
Keep your body hydrated: This is one of the most essential tips to keep in mind during the month of Ramadan. One needs to balance the consumption of liquids to compensate for not drinking 8 glasses/2 litres of water. Dehydration can lead to constipation, splitting headaches, and lethargy, and therefore, hydrating yourself before the fast begins with two-three glasses of water is critical, as is sipping on water on breaking the fast, between Iftar and your bedtime. Unhealthy drinks that contain caffeine including coffee, tea, aerated beverages must be avoided. People who cannot function without coffee can have a cup post 1-2 hours of a healthy balanced Iftar. Consuming water-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and soups are highly recommended to meet the daily water intake.
Ditch processed food, opt for healthy choices: When breaking the fast during Ramadan, it is essential to abstain from consuming fried/excessively oily or processed foods as they comprise lesser nutrients and more fat, leading to instant acidity and nausea, as well as potentially causing heartburn and indigestion. One should consume food cooked with lesser oil like soups, fresh fruits and vegetables, grilled meat, and braised dishes. If you are travelling when it’s time to break your fast, instead of having junk or packaged food, opt for healthier alternatives like dry fruits that include dates and nuts.
Limit exercising: As the entire month demands long hours of fasting, your body tends to get dehydrated, and therefore, it is recommended to not go overboard with your exercise regime. Light workouts are okay following fasting hours as they aid in regulating body functions and keep it hydrated.
Hope, these simple tips will help you keep a check on your health during the holy month of Ramadan.