Pick the best food for Ramadan – A Guideline

If you have clicked on this blog then there is a good chance that either you are planning or already keeping the Ramadan fast this year. Ramadan or Ramazan is the holy ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar when billions of Muslims all over the world keep fast throughout the day for a month. Okay, but what to eat at night? After a 13- 14 hrs of fasting what are the best foods for Ramadan? Do you know Ramadan fast along with correct food choice can help you to regain your deteriorating health? Yes, your much-awaited goal of weight loss (actually you mean fat loss) or having better blood parameters can be possible with the help of this religious fast.

Food for Ramadan 2

Before getting into the best foods for Ramadan lets understand the benefits of fasting

Religious fast is not only restricted among Muslims but in every religion for a specific day or for a specific period of time. Moreover, every religion suggests their followers keep fast for cleansing body and soul. Science has also proved the benefits of fasting for better health. If you are aware of current health trends you must have heard of intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is the concept where eating and fasting go hand in hand in a cyclic manner. You need to restrict your eating within a particular time frame and the rest of the time you go on fasting. For example- Suppose you have finished your dinner tonight at 9 pm, if you are planning to keep 12 hrs fast, you again start eating tomorrow at 9 am. Isn’t exactly like any religious fast, at present just like your Ramadan fast?

All the benefits of intermittent fasting come from the core mechanism “autophagy”. It is an inbuilt mechanism where our cell disassembles all the stored unnecessary component and recycle them to make a new cellular part. In a simpler word, it is like decluttering your room and then making some DIY items with that clutter.
Intermittent fasting is like natural detoxification which helps to recreate the hormonal balance. As a result, we get a steady insulin response, increased the release of human growth hormone, boost metabolism, reduce inflammation, improve brain health, prevent cancer, etc. The list is really long.

Okay, now all about picking the right food for Ramadan

A typical day during Ramadan fast generally gives you the opportunity to eat 3 square meals a day. Yes, few may think the timings are little odd but that’s how the month-long fast is being kept by the Muslim community. The day starts early in the morning and before dawn, you have your first meal or the pre-fast meal called Suhoor. Then after 12-14 hours of fast, after sunset, you will break your fast with your post fast meal – Iftar. And finally, you will have your dinner at the end.

All the benefits of this religious fast can be ensured when you will also eat right. Yes, that is why choosing food for Ramadan is extremely crucial. As I have repeatedly mentioned in my earlier blogs the keys of right eating are –

• good in quality
• moderate in quantity
• suitable in frequency

I am fasting throughout the day so I can eat anything at any amount.

No. No matter whether you are overweight or not. No one should eat “anything at any amount”. Mindful eating is MUST for a sustainable healthy life. Focus on quality food. During Ramadan fast as the eating frequency is less (maximum 3 meals) pay extra attention to the food quality. Enjoy good food with your friends and family in moderation.

Food for Ramadan 3

What should I eat during Suhoor?

It’s early in the morning. Many of you may not feel like eating particularly this point of time. There are many who keep a dry fast during Ramadan. Therefore Suhoor is the time when you must eat and drink a small to medium size of a wholesome meal. This will keep you energetic and hydrated throughout the day.

• Start your day with a few glasses of water. Foods which take time to get digested are best to consume at this time to ensure energy for a longer period.

• Avoid drinking tea/coffee at this time specifically for two reasons-
1. Tea/coffee has a tendency to dehydrate
2. During Suhoor, the window for eating is comparatively less. You need to eat a nutritious meal now. Drinking tea/coffee disturbs the absorption of essential nutrients (especially iron and calcium).

• After water, take a few pieces of local and seasonal fruits. If nothing is available, have one banana. Prefer having whole fruits instead of fresh fruit juices.

• Consider any complex cereals like oats (preferably steel cuts oats) / dalia (broken wheat)/ sooji(semolina) / homemade breakfast cereal/ragi/ whole wheat chapati/roti or even rice if you want. If you are blessed with good digestion you can even think of having brown rice at this time.

• Add vegetables and pulses to your cereal and make it a wholesome meal bowl.

• You can include one whole egg along with the meal

Foods to have Foods to avoid
1. Fresh local whole fruits

2. Steel cut oats

3. Dalia (broken wheat)/ sooji (semolina)/ ragi/ roti/ chapati (of whole wheat)/ rice (white or brown)/ homemade breakfast cereal

4. Whole egg

5. Milk

1. Any packaged fruit juice

2. Instant oats

3. Packaged Cornflakes/ muesli/ granola/instant soup/ Instant noodles

4. Processed meat


Suhoor – Meal idea

Here is some balanced meal idea you may consider during Suhoor. No these are not all. You may customize your meal per your convenience and choice.

Option 1
1. Water

2. Few slices of fruits/one banana

3. A small bowl of steel cut oats/dalia/ sooji with chopped vegetables

4. Boiled egg and/ or fistful of sprouts

Option 2
1. Water

2. Few slices of fruits/one banana

3. A small bowl of homemade breakfast cereal with milk/curd or overnight oats

4. Boiled egg and/ or fistful of sprouts

Option 3
1. Water

2. Few slices of fruits/one banana

3. Bread / roti with homemade peanut butter/butter/ jaggery

4. Boiled egg and/ or fistful of sprouts

Option 4
1. Water

2. Few slices of fruits/one banana

3. A small bowl of rice with pulses and vegetables

4. Boiled egg and/ or fistful of sprouts

Food for Ramadan 4


How do I break the fast during Iftar?

Fasting has multiple benefits which are only ensured when you break your fast the correct way. After a long day of fast when your body is screaming for nutrition, you need to feed them the right food. Drink water first. You may drink some lemon water or coconut water followed by having 3-4 dates as per your rituals. You may have a few pieces of fruits and /or a fistful of dry fruits at this time. That’s it.
Don’t jump into food immediately. Wait for a while for about half an hour and then have a well-balanced dinner.

What should I have for dinner?

Generally, as per tradition, the dinner is lavish during community gathering with mouth-watering biriyani, kebab, halim, firni, etc. But remember these are for special gathering not for every day.
After fasting for 14 hrs, don’t ruin its goodness by eating anything and everything. This is the most crucial time when you need to stay focused on the quality of food.


• Have plenty of water after a day long of a dry fast. Keep your body well hydrated for the next day.

• Summer offers numbers of juicy fruits -watermelon, pineapple, mango, etc. Eat fruits rather than fresh fruit juices to get complete nutrition.

• Enjoy rice/roti along with pulses, vegetables, salads.

• Take home cooked fish/ chicken/ meat

• Make sure one-fourth of your plate should be covered with rice/ roti and the rest ¾ should contain dal, salad, vegetables, and fish/chicken/meat.

• Eat everything but control over portion size and concentrate on food quality.

• Avoid all sort of packaged/processed/ instant foods and focus only on homemade foods.

Food for Ramadan 5

Can I lose weight by Ramadan fast?

You mean fat loss, right? Yes, you can lose some fat during this month-long religious fast. Any type of intermittent fasting reduces the eating window, you automatically eat less and consume less calorie. Now since you eat less, you manage to achieve lower and steady insulin level and increased growth hormone which in turn allow increased secretion of norepinephrine (a fat burning hormone). This new hormonal situation, boost your metabolic rate. The study suggests that intermittent fasting can be a powerful weight loss tool for many of us which also helps to reduce your belly fat.

So if you are focusing on fat loss, you need to eat a balanced meal during the eating window, which should be –
• calorie dense as per your age and activity
• highly nutritious not just an empty calorie
• provided with sufficient carbohydrate to support your activity level
• having high-quality protein (either animal or plant source)
• added with good fat to fill the rest of the calorie gap

Bottom Line

Religious fasting is great as these are nothing but intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting has great health benefits which can be only ensured when you eat right during the eating window. Therefore choices of foods for Ramadan is crucial in terms of keeping yourself healthy and well nourished. No, it is not difficult. Don’t gorge on every food. Focus on quality, control your portion size and your Ramadan fast is already taking care of the eating frequency. What else you need? Eat mindfully.

 

 

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