Everyone agrees this is going to be a hot Ramadan. Temperatures are soaring just as fasting is starting. But not everyone agrees on the best way to take care of your body during the month-long fast. So we’ve reviewed the nutritional literature online to bring you the healthiest tips with the most consensus.
1. What to eat when breaking the fast?
Avoid the temptation to grab the richest, heaviest dish you can reach at sundown. Eat slowly, starting with a light soup, and ease into larger meals. Make your meal colorful – bright green veggies, orange fruits, brown breads – to get the most vitamins and minerals. To prevent muscle breakdown, you should include ‘energy food’, such as complex carbohydrates (these release energy more slowly than refined carbs) and a moderate amount of unsaturated fat. Grilled meat and fish, dried fruits, yogurt, fattoush and hummus are good choices.
2. What foods should be avoided?
Steer clear of syrupy fruit juices as they are very high in sugar. Also push away fried and oily foods, like French fries, samosas and sambusak. Skip caffeinated and soft drinks altogether because they are diuretics, which will further deplete your body of fluids and nutrients.
By the way, DO NOT avoid the pre-dawn Suhoor. Some people skip it, but the meal is vital to maintain energy and wellbeing through the daylight hours.
3. H2O is the way to go.
Water is vital for many functions in our body. Keep in mind that your body loses water and salts through sweat, urine and even breathing. Replenishing water prevents common symptoms of dehydration: dizziness, fatigue, headaches, muscle cramps and disorientation. Slowly sip at least 8 glasses of water before bedtime. Many experts say water at room temperature is better for your body than ice water. But all agree that you need it.
4. Avoid excessive physical exertion and exposure to the heat.
You can continue to exercise, just be smart about your efforts. Working out at a time where your energy levels are high and rehydration is possible can guarantee a “good workout” where your performance is not affected. An hour or so after Iftar can be an ideal time to exercise or engage in some sort of activity. Be sure to avoid high-intensity sports or activities during the day as they could increase risk of dehydration. Considering the heat in this part of the world, seek shade whenever you go outside. Yes, it is ok to swim during Ramadan, as long as you are confident that no water will enter your stomach through your nose or mouth.
5. Practice good hygiene.
Since you aren’t eating food, you may forget to wash your hands throughout the day. Hand washing is vital in preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria. Oh, one more thing, don’t forget to floss and brush your teeth during the day (just make sure you don’t swallow the paste or water). Fasting can lead to halitosis, aka bad breath, because of dryness in the mouth. A tooth stick, or miswak, is also excellent for oral hygiene.
We wish you meaningful – and healthy – Ramadan.