Check out some expert tips to stay nourished during Ramadan!
Every year, Muslims around the world observe the Holy month of Ramadan which is the 9th month in the Islamic calendar. During Ramadan, the revelation of the Quran is commemorated which makes it one of the holiest months of the year. Muslims devote their time to spiritual discipline, self-improvement, and increased charity. Similar to many other Muslim households, I look forward to decorating the table with colorful lanterns, enjoying traditional food, as well as experiencing an atmosphere filled with a special kind of warmth and love.
One of the great acts of worship that healthy Muslim adults participate in is fasting from dawn to dusk during this month. This can make it important to focus on healthy eating choices to replenish nutrients and reduce health concerns like fatigue, excess thirst, and headaches during the fasting hours. I like to plan out my sahoor(pre-dawn meal) and iftar meals (evening meal) to make sure I meet my nutrient needs as well as keep up my energy while fasting during Ramadan. Check out some of my mindful nutrition tips to practice during sahoor and iftar that can help you make the most out of your Ramadan experience this year!
Consider Your Health Needs
Fasting can be an important part of Ramadan but it is important to consider your health needs before you begin fasting. Certain health conditions or situations may make it difficult to fast. It is important to discuss your dietary needs, medication schedule, and risks with a licensed healthcare professional. For example, individuals with diabetes need a consistent eating and medication schedule which can make it difficult to fast in many cases. Making sure that your health condition or situation is stable to continue with fasting is a crucial step in preparing for Ramadan.
Select a Nutrient-Dense Sahoor
Sahoor(pre-dawn meal) is the most important meal to consume since it can provide you with sustained energy to get you through the fasting hours. Eating a meal with fiber-rich carbohydrates as well as protein and fats can help you power through the day. Fiber sources include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Some great protein options for your morning meal can be beans, eggs, or other lean meat. Adding a dose of fats from nuts, avocados, and seeds like chia can be a perfect addition or side to your meal. Take a peek below for some meal ideas!
Keep Up With Hydration
Drinking water and eating hydrating foods can help you meet your daily hydration needs during Ramadan. Instead of chugging down water at once to meet your needs, spread your water intake out between the iftar and sahoor meal. Additionally, adding hydrating foods to your meals like cucumbers, leafy greens, tomatoes, zucchini, berries, dates, and melon can be a great idea. For example, have a date along with a cucumber and tomato salad as part of your iftar starter.
Consume a Balanced Iftar
Breaking your fast with a meal that includes different foods groups can help you meet your nutrient needs, replenish energy, and maintain electrolyte stores. While meal planning for Ramadan, I like to list out meals that include whole grains, protein, veggies, fruits, and healthy fats. Breaking your fast with water, dates and fresh fruit can be a great choice. For your main meal, choosing complex carbohydrates like brown rice, whole grain pasta, bulgur, or quinoa can provide a sustainable source of energy. You can also add a roasted vegetables or a fresh salad to your plate to replenish vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Making sure to include high quality protein like fish, eggs, yogurt, skinless chicken, beans, lentils, tofu, can help you maintain muscle mass. A general way to begin is to fill 1/2 your plate with colorful vegetables, 1/4 of your plate with protein, and 1/4 of your plate with complex carbohydrates.
Incorporate Mindful Eating Habits
Excess hunger after a long day of fasting can make it tempting to dive into a delicious plate of food. Practicing mindful eating habits can be important to prevent bloating, gas, reflux, and other uncomfortable symptoms due to overeating or quick eating. Some mindful eating habits include showing gratitude to God before eating. You can also chew your food slowly and tune into your hunger-fullness cues. Halfway between finishing your meal, pause and check into yourself to see if you are getting full. You can download my free Mindful Eating Checklist for a reminder!
Consider Healthful Cooking Methods
Some traditional Ramadan foods like samosas, egg rolls, and pakoras can be fried and greasy. These foods can be enjoyed occasionally or in moderation throughout the month. But, some healthy ways to prepare these traditional foods without frying them in oil everyday can be to bake or use an air fryer instead. Additionally, flavoring your meals with fresh herbs, spices, ginger, and other aromatic veggies can be a healthier choice compared to using excess table salt. You can also use various other cooking methods like grilling, roasting, and braising to prepare your meals!
Veggie & egg omelette with whole grain toast, and fresh fruit of choice
Oatmeal topped with nuts/seeds, high protein Greek yogurt, and berries
Mediterranean wrap made with whole grain flatbread, hummus spread, chopped avocado, scrambled egg or a lean beef/chicken patty, and bell peppers
Cucumber and arugula salad with olive oil vinaigrette, grilled salmon, and brown rice
Chapati made with whole grain flour, veggie and lentil curry, side salad
Crockpot soup filled with veggies, whole grains, beans or lentils with a side of whole grain bread roll
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