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Nourishing the Soul

Mar/02/2024 / by Abhijit Masih

Ways to support yourself this Ramadan

As the holy month of Ramadan approaches, millions around the world eagerly anticipate the spiritual journey that comes with fasting from dawn to sunset. But fasting and good health should go hand in hand.  

“Maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet while observing fasting during Ramadan is crucial for good health and well-being,” advises registered dietitian Priyanka Jonnalagadda MS, RD. 

Ramadan typically includes two primary meals: Suhoor (pre-dawn meal) and Iftar (meal to break the fast after sunset). Suhoor should include complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to provide sustained energy throughout the day. Iftar should be a balanced meal that replenishes nutrients and hydrates the body after fasting. To maximize the fasting period and ensure you have enough energy throughout the day, have your Suhoor meal as close to dawn as possible.

Jonnalagadda also recommends these fundamental principles to ensure your best health during this time:

Focus on whole grains. Oatmeal, whole wheat bread, barley, or brown rice are rich in complex carbohydrates that provide a slow and steady release of energy.

Choose lean proteins. Protein-rich foods such as eggs, dairy, lean meats like fish or chicken, legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), and tofu help keep you feeling full and satisfied.

Reach for healthy fats. Add healthy choices like avocado, nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pistachios), seeds (chia seeds or flaxseeds), and nut butter to your Suhoor meal for sustained energy.

Don’t forget the fiber. Fiber-rich Foods: Incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, which are fiber-rich foods that promote digestive health, help you feel fuller for longer, and prevent constipation during fasting.

Stay hydrated. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water between Iftar and Suhoor. Sip water throughout the evening and early morning hours to maintain hydration levels. You may also choose other hydrating beverages, such as herbal tea or infused water. Avoid excessive caffeine and salt intake, as it can lead to dehydration. Instead of consuming large amounts of fluids simultaneously, try to space out your fluid intake throughout the non-fasting hours.

Limit sugar and processed foods. While sugary foods may provide a quick energy boost, they can lead to energy crashes later on. Opt for whole, minimally processed foods that are easier on the digestive system.

Moderate portions. Eating large meals in a short period can lead to indigestion, bloating, and discomfort. Take your time to eat meals slowly and mindfully, chewing food thoroughly before swallowing.

Stay moving. Engage in light physical activity during the non-fasting hours to support digestion. Choose exercises that are light to moderate in intensity, especially if you’re fasting. Activities like walking, gentle yoga, stretching, or low-impact cardio workouts are good options. Instead of long, intense workouts, consider breaking your exercise routine into shorter sessions. Aim for 20-30 minutes of exercise at a time. 
Listen to Your Body. Pay attention to how your body responds to fasting. Consult a healthcare professional for guidance if you experience fatigue, dizziness, or other discomfort.


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