Food & Fasting
Ramadan fasting has spiritual, physical, psychological and social benefits.
“Fasting during Ramadan can be good for one’s health and personal development,” says Jishy Seby, diet consultant at Kims Oman Hospital
This year fasting becomes tougher as the holy month falls during the hot, long days of June. Good hydration, fruits, vegetables and low fat foods should be the main source of energy for those who will be fasting.
The diet during Ramadan should not differ from normal balanced diet and should be as simple as possible. It should include all five food groups (cereals, pulses, meat and fish, dairy and fats).
Metabolic function slows down during fasting. Body and dietary fat is utilised during this period. People who are overweight can reduce their weight by healthy fasting; others can maintain their weight.
Over eating or feasting should be avoided during iftar, dinner or suhur.
Slow digesting foods with fibre like wheat, oats, unsalted nuts etc should be consumed for suhur. Refined carbohydrates like sugar rich and white flour based foods should be avoided. This meal should never be missed since it provides sufficient energy needed for the day time.
Dinner can be with more complex carbohydrates, vegetables, yoghurt or laban, fish and chicken, and with reduced red meat and refined foods. Fruits can be taken as a snack after dinner but not immediately to prevent bloating. Fibre-rich foods like fruits and vegetables will help prevent constipation during Ramadan.
Drink sufficient water between iftar and suhur to avoid dehydration during fasting time. Avoid caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee and colas. These drinks are to be reduced one week before fasting begins. This will help reduce headaches caused by fasting. After dinner it is always good to engage in light exercises like stretching or walking to aid digestion.
The body’s immediate need at the time of iftar is to get easily available energy source in the form of glucose particularly, for the brain and nerves. So it is always good to break the fast in the traditional way with dates and fruit juice. Dates provide the energy in the form of sugar. Juice helps maintain water and mineral balance in the body. It can be followed by soups and cereals. Oily, spicy and deep fried foods can be avoided to avoid acidity and bloating, which are the most common complaints during fasting.