The holy month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and a time when many people across the world fast during daylight hours for 29-30 days. As a spiritual practice, people take part in Ramadan by fasting during daylight hours, eating one meal – ‘Suhoor’ just before dawn and another- the ‘Iftar’ after sunset. The end of Ramadan is marked by ‘Eid-al-Fitr’, the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast.
It is often a common practice for people to overeat or follow unhealthy dietary practices during their Iftar and Suhoor meals. Choosing and following healthy dietary practices during Ramadan is key to have a healthy Ramadan. Since Ramadan falls during the summer, it is common for people who fast particularly children to experience fatigue and dehydration because of the eating habits and timings. It is extremely important to pay attention to nutrition and diet for kids during Ramadan to ensure they experience a healthy fasting experience.
Parents must choose healthy food for their children for all their meals during Ramadan. While choosing food to make a healthy choice so that the daily nutrients requirement are fulfilled in the Suhoor and the Iftar meals.
Suhoor meal is one that needs to be wholesome in order to provide enough nutrients to provide energy that can last the entire day until Iftar. An ideal meal at Suhoor should contain high fibre breakfast cereals like oats, porridge with nuts, green leafy vegetables paratha with low-fat yoghurt, lean meat wholemeal bread sandwiches with fruits. Kids should be given energy and protein dense food like dates and dry fruit milkshakes, fruit custard with dry fruits during their Suhoor meal.
It is recommended to incorporate high fibre fruits and vegetables which digest slowly and gradually release sugar into the body. Watery fruits like melons and vegetables like celery, cucumber and tomato will help to rehydrate body during fast. Drinking plenty of water is key during the non-fasting hours in Ramadan to keep the body hydrated throughout.
Iftar is the meal when an individual replenishes their energy by consuming food after long hours of fasting. It is a must to not give in to temptation and avoid eating excess oily, fried and fatty food as they are only calories. One must consume food from all food groups. An Iftar meal should include more of fluids other than drinking water. Fresh fruit juices with no added sugar will help rehydrate the body. Also include a simple form of easily digested sugar, fresh fruit, lentil soup, chicken soup, veg soup before beginning the meal. Adopt healthy eating option for desserts with a bowl of fruit salad or fruit yoghurt instead of heavy sugar coated sweets, cakes, chocolates and pastries.
Social gatherings are a common concept, particularly during Iftar meals. Unhealthy food choices during and overeating during gatherings can cause acidity and indigestion. It is essential to make healthy food choices even during social gatherings to ensure a healthy stomach.
Apart from healthy dietary practices, moderate physical activity is also recommended. However, it is still advisable both adults and children to stay away from direct sunlight to avoid dehydration.
Aster Hospital Mankhool