The Holy month of Ramadan comes with its share of challenges. Falling around the 12 of April this year, the sweltering summer month can make fasting tough even after years of practice.
As the Islamic calendar is lunar, Ramzan shifts slightly earlier each year, making the month-long fast come with its share of change. Fasting without a sip or bite during daylight hours requires one to be mindful of what they consume when they can.
Below are two detailed lists which can be tweaked according to your choice and taste.
The Sehri Meal Plan
The meal before dawn is extremely important as it makes for the last hour before fasting begins. During this time, it is essential to drink plenty of fluids, and fluid-rich foods to stay hydrated for the day.
As for foods which help maintain energy throughout the day, one should choose starchy, high-fibre, and wholegrain varieties as these keep one fuller and also aid digestion.
Below are some examples:
- Oats – An oat porridge or khichdi makes for a delicious and healthy option. You can make it high on fluids by adding milk, water or yoghurt as suits your digestion. Sprinkle muesli, dry fruits, or seeds on top for a pump of nutrition.
- High fibre breakfast cereals– Avoid cereals with added sugar as they only add weight and deplete energy. Choose cereals that are high on fibre with milk to consume ample fluid.
- Starchy foods– You can make rice, or semolina pudding with fruit for a high-starch meal. Rice with yoghurt is another great option that keeps one energetic without being too heavy on the stomach. If you are thinking of adding savoury dishes to your Sehri meal, avoid salty items as they would only increase your thirst.
- Yoghurt- The go-to item with a holy grail of benefits. You can make your yoghurt fibre rich by sprinkling it with muesli, nuts, or even fruits to maintain hydration and energy throughout the day.
- Breads– Sweet buns, and multi-grain bread make for good fibre and energy before the fast begins. If you like chapattis, pair it with yoghurt or a low-salt lentil soup. Avoid eating a high-savoury meal for Sehri as it will only increase your thirst.
The Iftar Meal Plan
It’s difficult to not go overboard during Iftar as you are pulled to every food item in front of you. Take time to breathe and choose the items that will help you maintain your health for the entire month- while also keeping the extra kilos off.
First things first, go for plenty of fluids, low fat, fluid rich foods when you break your fast. These foods should contain natural sugars to give you a boost of energy. Avoid going for pastries, and chocolates or any foods with added sugars.
- Drinks– That water bottle that has been staring at you all day long should be the first thing you should rehydrate with. Follow with milk, natural fruit juices or smoothies. These drinks have natural sugars and nutrients to give your body all that it was missing without adding any extra load to it.
- Dry fruits– Dates, being the traditional and first choice from the dry fruit cabinet are a great way to break the fast as they provide natural sugars for energy, while also being high on fibre. Other energy and fibre rich dry fruits can be apricots, figs, raisins or prunes.
- Fruits– Most of the families break their fast with a bowl of fruit chaat to replenish their fluids, nutrients and energy all in one go.
- Soup– Fasts should always be broken with light accompaniments. A meat broth, or a lentil soup are popularly consumed across many countries during Iftar.
Should one stay away from certain foods?
Now that we know of the foods that’ll keep us well-fed and energetic for the rest of the day, it is also important to know the ones that make fasting harder than it should be.
- Super salty foods, especially during Sehri increase thirst
- Excessive consumption of flour-based delicacies like pasta, pizza, burgers, etc. can lead to digestive issues or constipation. Having heavy foods with a 12-13 hour stretch of no water can lead to difficulties
- Not having enough fluids and continuously munching during eating hours can cause headaches, dehydration, and difficulty in concentrating during the time of the fast
- In case you experience heavy discomfort and loss of energy and need to break the fast, have a glass of water mixed with sugar and salt
Ramzan around the world
With a change of country, the food on the table during Ramzan changes as well. Although dates are one item that will be seen across every region.
Here are some of the delicacies enjoyed by people around the world:
Egypt– Al-Khoshaf – a mix of dates, figs, apricots and kamar-din juice, Molokhia, grape leaves, and soup
Sudan– Juice made from maize, wheat, boiled legumes, and porridge
Tunisia– Haririya, grilled veggies with olive oil, rice cooked with dates, and raisins
Yemen– Dates, coffee, shafur– bread and yoghurt and soup of crushed wheat mixed with milk and sugar or meat broth
Turkey– Bread called Bida, dates, cheese
Malaysia– Fatri Mundi, Gatry Mundi meal, Badeq, dates, bananas, and oranges
Pakistan– Bakora made of sweet potato mixed with spices, Rooh Afza juice
Japan- Kaiseki– a vegetable meal made of famous juices and pickles, marine specialities
Iraq– Dates and milk, a drink named Nomi Basra which is said to cure headaches
Afghanistan– Minto, Pulani and Afghan rice- which are pastries mixed with rice and spices
India– Gingi- a soup made of rice flour, a little meat and spices cooked in water, Dahi bhalla
With the Holy month hardly a few weeks away, use your limited time in creating a balanced diet. Provide your body with all the essential nutrients and fluids to stay healthy, and while you might not feel like it, make sure to continue some light physical activity or a short walk after during the month of Ramzan to stay healthy and active. Happy fasting!