How to stay healthy during Ramadan
The Islamic month of fasting got underway on Friday and in the UK it’s one of the most difficult timings there has ever been, with fasts that lasts 17 hours, in increasingly warm, summery conditions.
While the health advice being given out to non-fasters is to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water – this is something those observing Ramadan can’t do. But there are some steps you can take, to ensure you stay healthy during the month so that during the non-fasting hours you are eating and drinking the right things.
5 tips to survive Ramadan
1. State of health
If you suffer from any type of health condition or are on medication, you must speak to your GP first. For example if you are diabetic and normally take insulin or tablets fasting may not be suitable for you. If a doctor says you cannot fast during Ramadan, it is acceptable to make a charity donation instead.
2. Eating before sunrise
It is essential you eat something at this time, rather than skip it and fast from the moment you go to sleep at night. What you choose to eat is also important. Opt for a balanced meal that contains carbohydrates, fat, protein and sugar (fruit is ideal) to ensure your body is getting all the nutrients it still needs in a day.
Complex carbohydrates such as barley, wheat, wholemeal and oats are a good choice as they release energy slowly during the day.
3. Dealing with tiredness
The body becomes tired when it is fasting because blood sugar levels drop which is not being replaced by food. The body responds by telling us to relax to preserve energy. If you do need to take a few minutes to lie down, try and do so and it will have several benefits including making you feel better and giving you and extra boost of energy.
4. Take supplements
If you normally take vitamin tablets continue to take these. If you don’t, it’s a good idea to take a daily tablet or supplement during Ramadan to ensure your body gets all the nutrients it needs from a balanced diet. Your body is only getting two main meals a day so it’s important to ensure these contain everything you need; vitamins will give you an added boost.
5. Breaking with iftar
What you choose to eat when you break your fast will impact on your health. It is not advisable to eat a huge meal after starving your body for so many hours and in fact if you do, this is can contribute to obesity.
Instead break your fast with a small snack like a fruit salad, take a short break and then eat a normal meal. Avoid heavily processed foods like refined carbohydrates such as cakes, biscuits and Indian mithai as they will only give you an immediate energy boost, they will not have lasting nutritional effects. Instead try milky based desserts like rasmali.
As an alternative to fried food, go for healthier choices: so baked samosas rather than fried. Also avoid caffeine as drinks like tea and coffee will dehydrate you unnecessarily.
If you experience any unusual side effects from fasting, speak to your doctor. Ramdan Mubarak!