Have a healthy Ramadan

Ramadan is expected to start around 2nd April 2022. This month of fasting during daylight hours is observed by Muslims around the world. Here are some tips, from the British Nutrition Foundation, for having a healthy Ramadan.

Iftar – when first breaking the fast go for plenty of fluids, low fat, fluid-rich foods and foods containing some natural sugars for energy (avoid consuming a lot of foods or drinks with added sugars). Below are some examples:

  • Drinks – water, milk, fruit juices or smoothies – water provides hydration without any extra calories or added sugars. Drinks based on milk and fruit provide some natural sugars and nutrients – these are also good to break the fast but avoid drinking a lot of drinks with added sugars after breaking the fast as these can provide too much sugars and calories.

  • Dates – traditionally eaten to break the fast since the time of the Prophet Muhammad, dates are a great way to break the fast as they provide natural sugars for energy, provide minerals like potassium, copper and manganese and are a source of fibre. You could also try other dried fruits such as apricots, figs, raisins or prunes, which also provide fibre and nutrients.

  • Fruit – a traditional way to break the fast in South Asian cultures, fruit provides natural sugars for energy, fluid and some vitamins and minerals.

  • Soup – traditional in many Arab countries, is a light way to break the fast and provides fluid. Traditional soups are based on a meat broth and often contain pulses, like lentils and beans, and starchy foods like pasta or grains, providing nutrients and energy.

After breaking the fast – meals vary between different cultures and traditions but try to make sure the foods you eat provide a balance of starchy foods, including wholegrains where you can, fruit and vegetables, dairy foods and protein-rich foods like meat, fish, eggs and beans, as shown by the Eatwell Guide. For example you could have a range of curries including fish, meat, vegetables and pulses, served with rice, chapattis and yoghurt, and this would include all the key food groups within the Eatwell Guide. Find more information on the Eatwell Guide on this NHS page.

After a long fast it’s natural to want to treat yourself but try to keep the amount of fatty and sugary foods and sugary drinks you have to a small amount. Remember that you only have a relatively short time each day to eat and drink to provide your body with all the essential nutrients and fluids it needs to be healthy, so the quality of your diet is especially important during Ramadan.

If you can, once you have had a chance to digest your food, you could try doing some light exercise such as going for a walk. If you attend Taraweeh prayers (special night-time prayers for Ramadan) in the evening, perhaps you could walk all or part of the way there.

Suhoor – drink plenty of fluids, choose fluid-rich foods to make sure you are well hydrated for the day ahead and go for starchy foods for energy, choosing high fibre or wholegrain varieties where possible as these can help keep you feeling fuller and can aid digestion, helping to prevent constipation. Below are some examples:

  • Oats - these are wholegrains, and you could choose porridge, which will also provide fluids as it’s made with milk or water, muesli with milk or yogurt or overnight oats. You could experiment with fresh or dried fruit, nuts or seeds as toppings.

  • High fibre breakfast cereals – these provide plenty of fibre and are often fortified with vitamins and minerals, providing extra nutrients. Because they are consumed with milk, you also get fluid and nutrients like calcium, iodine and b vitamins from the milk.

  • Starchy foods like rice, or couscous – you could try rice pudding with fruit or experiment with couscous or other grains with dairy or fruit. If you go for savoury dishes at suhoor then it's a good idea to make sure these are not too salty, or they may make you very thirsty during the fast.

  • Yoghurt – this can be a good food to include at suhoor as it provides nutrients like protein, calcium, iodine and B vitamins and contains fluid. You could combine it with cereal and fruit as in the examples above.

  • Breads – go for wholegrain options as these provide more fibre, for example wholemeal toast or chapattis. Avoid combining bread with salty foods like hard cheese, or preserved meats. You could try nut butters (without added salt), soft cheese, or banana. As bread is fairly dry, make sure you drink plenty of water or other fluids alongside or you could have fluid-rich foods such as a lentil soup, which is a traditional food at suhoor in some countries. 

Source: British Nutrition Foundation

If you find you lose weight during Ramadan, and you want to use this as a kick start to moving towards a healthier weight in the long term, then it could be a good idea to plan ahead and think about how you are going to eat healthier and be more active once Ramadan is over. Why not look at the NHS Better Health website to get some advice on how to go about this.

 
By registering with Live Well Stay Well, you can gain access to advice and support on how to reach and maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet, become more physically active, quit smoking and live a healthier lifestyle. Click the register button to find out more.
Have a healthy Ramadan