Fasting is the willingly restriction or reduction of a few or all drinks, foods, or both together, over a period of time. More than 1400 years ago Muslims were directed to fast during Ramadan, while the prehistoric Greeks advocated fasting to heal the body, and at present time many medical researchers are recommending a modified fast for mental and physical well-being.
“The best of all medicines is resting and fasting”. ~Benjamin Franklin
Fasting during Ramadan can improve one’s health, it increases cognitive performance by increasing focus, prevent obesity and its interlinked long-lasting diseases, minimize inflammation, is good for cancer patients, lower cholesterol level, hypertension, reduce heart disease and slow down heart rate, lower blood sugar level and improves insulin sensitivity by lowering fat cells, but if it is not done in a proper way it can cause more harm than good. So always pay cautious attention while choosing foods during suhour and iftar.
Good Food Options to Include in Suhour:
Eat wholesome and hydrating foods during suhour to stay energetic and hydrated during the course of fasting.
1- Include whole grain cereals like wheat, oat, and barley due to the fiber content they provide long-term satiety effect.
2- Protein-rich foods (yogurt, egg white, lentils, beans, minced meat) that are highly nutritious and keep you full the whole day that is also a good option for diabetic and overweight patients. But don’t eat >40% of the protein in your suhour meal as it needs more water for digestion.
3- Add potassium-rich foods (dates banana, green leafy vegetables, potatoes, etc.) as potassium helps to endure pain and keeps water and electrolytes in balance.
4- Drink plenty of water and other fluids and fluid-containing foods, for instance, buttermilk, yogurt, etc. but not too much as overloading of water cause dilution of acidic contents in the stomach and cause bloating and indigestion.
Foods that Should Avoid in Suhour Meal:
1- Avoid sugary foods as they cause acidity and the urge to eat more due to lack of satiety.
2- Avoid too many salty foods and caffeine as salty foods increase thirst and caffeine causes loss of water from your body and causes longing for water the whole day.
FOODS TO EAT IN IFTAR
1. It is sunnah to breakfast with dates. The saying of the Prophet (PBUH) is also endorsed by nutritional science according to a nutritional point of view, dates are an instant and excellent source of energy, minerals like potassium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin B-complex. So it is a good food to replenish the energy level and minerals lost during the whole day, especially during the summer season. The foods those having a pretty much amount of potassium in addition to dates are banana and cardamom.
2. Make sure to have sufficient fluids intake to avoid dehydration
Good fluid options which also have a pack of good minerals include:
Coconut Water: it includes 95% water a beautiful source of isotonic minerals like Amino acids, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Calcium and phenolic compounds.
Almond Juice: has a healthy source of polyunsaturated fatty acids, protein, Magnesium and Zinc.
Lemonade: lemon + water is a traditional drink containing vitamin C that is good for the digestive system and an attractive option for overweight individuals as well.
Peach Juice: is a hearty and nourishing drink that includes an efficient level of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, numerous B-family vitamins, Potassium, Iron, Sulfer, Magnesium and zinc.
Butter Milk: hydrating and an ample source of protein.
Almond and Figs Milk Shake: a sufficient amount of Calcium, fiber, and Potassium. Omega-3 fatty acids, and Amino acids that is a good options to regain lost nutrients during the day.
Barley Water (Sattu): that is an excellent source of fiber, and slowly releases carbohydrates to prevent abruptly rising up of blood glucose levels.
All these options mentioned above are equally good for diabetics, hypertensive, cardiac, overweight patients and patients having high cholesterol and uric acid levels.
3- Have protein salad (grams +beans), meat, egg, lentils and socked raw nuts like almonds to fulfill essential fats, and protein requirements, they help you feel full and in control, without the need to binge.
FOODS TO AVOID
Avoid drinking empty caloric drinks to avoid a surging rise in blood glucose and insulin level and to prevent acidity, bloating, indigestion and risk of diabetes and overweight. Stick to regular water and above-recommended drinks to quench thirst.
Greasy and fried food, such as fried dumplings, samosas, pastries and oily curries, are loaded with fat and stored in the body as fatty tissue. Eating fatty foods after long hours of fasting, on one hand, causes acidity and indigestion and on the other hand, they produce more heat in the body due to the high endothermic effect of food thereby they increase the need for water by increasing thirst.
Written by:- Hina Rafiq (Dietitian/Nutritionist, DHQ Hospital Okara, Punjab Pakistan)