The traditional Pakistani iftaar is not at all healthy. The way we eat could actually reverse the physical benefits that are derived from fasting, such as detoxification of our body and regulation of our metabolism.
To achieve optimum physical benefit from fasting in Ramadan we need to include foods that are low in carbohydrates and rich in proteins, good fats and fiber. In addition, we should opt for plain water and fruit juices rather than soft drinks or drinks with artificial sweeteners.
It is advised that our suhoor and iftar ‘dastarkhwans’ should be organized to minimizing the intake of fried and spicy foods. For suhoor it is recommended that foods such as eggs, porridge and wheat should be eaten. These are digested slowly by the body and thus have the ability to sustain us all day long.
On the other hand, the fast should be broken with dates and water or fruit juice. These items quickly restore the body’s glucose level. You can follow these up with a “fruit chat” and white or black beans and one fried item.
According to experts a single samosa or a couple of pakora’s are enough to fulfil your daily requirement of oil, which is around three tablespoons.
It is also recommended that we should have a light iftaar and then have a full meal an hour later to better take advantage of the whole day’s fast.
Staying Hydrated during Ramazan
As a rule of thumb, it is highly recommended that an adult should drink eight to ten glasses of water a day. In Ramadan we have only a few hours to match this amount as not taking in enough fluid can lead to stones in the kidney or lethargy due of the fall in blood pressure.
We should plan our water intake prudently as well. At suhoor we should try and drink three glasses of water while at iftaar and afterwards, we should plan to consume at least 2 liters of fluids be it water, lassi, milk shakes, or fruit juices.
Fruits and vegetables are also a good source of hydration and should be made a part of the iftaar and suhoor diet plan. Especially fruits such as watermelon, grapefruit, apples, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce etc.
One important note here is that even if you are managing your diet, weight loss in Ramadan could just as well be due to dehydration and not because of actual loss of fat, which is why we need to be careful.
Weight Gain and Exercise During Ramazan
A lot of us think that eating a ton of pakora’s is negated by the day long fast. This is not so. In fact eating a lot of fried foods during Ramadan generally leads to weight gain. This is why if you are aiming to lose weight you need to not only control your diet but also do a bit of exercise.
It is however, the perspective of some doctors that the five daily prayers and taraweeh amounts to enough exercise.
Some Useful Tips
To conclude, the following is a list of useful tips which will help us enjoy not only a spiritually rewarding, but also health Ramadan:
- Eat food items that are digested slowly, such as fibrous foods and foods rich in complex carbohydrates.
- Don’t stuff yourselves thinking it will last the whole day. Try eating proteins for suhoor, as protein calories take longer to breakdown.
- Eat sweets after eating your iftaar and drinking water.
- Shun the late night snack. It will most probably be stored as fat.
Here’s to enjoying a safe and healthy Ramadan!