Typically, Ramadan means a lot of planning, which truthfully remains as words on paper, or hastily typed words on a touch screen. This time around, Star Lifestyle is focusing on the practical side of things. Our highlight for this week is maintaining proper eating habits while fasting, which can be applied throughout the month, if not the year.
Summer Ramadan fasts in Bangladesh can be up to 14-15 hours, with just around 10 hours left to take care of dietary needs. Typically, common food plans are put on hold during this time as the long fasting hours, combined with a humid summer weather, do not make up the best combination.
But dieters, or people looking to switch to healthier eating habits, can make the best use of this opportunity, and treat the Ramadan fasting as the perfect springboard.
The most common shortcomings, however, are centred on the issue that all careful eating stops right after the fasting ends.
Of course, going for a more suitable diet plan is another matter, but sticking to the acquired good eating habits throughout the year, without doubt, will benefit in the long run.
EXTENDING WATER INTAKE HOURS
The human body requires roughly 3-4 litres of water per day to function properly. After 14 hours of fasting, the absolute worst thing you can do to your body is gulping down water without any consideration.
Instead, set aside a limited amount of water to drink at specified times, maybe at one or two hour intervals. A good practice here would be to take a water bottle to bed before sehri to quench your thirst throughout the night.
Also avoid drinking a huge amount of water right at the end of sehri; it will do you no good.
Follow through with this habit later in the summer by keeping aside water to drink throughout the day.
Of course, when Ramadan is over, you can always sip whenever you feel thirsty, but again, that too in moderation.
While we are on the topic of water, sugary drinks, even marketed juices with the label of “0 percent sugar” should be avoided.
Opt for making juice at home, or flavour your water with lemon wedges and a sprinkle of mint leaves.
PAIRING PROTEINS AND CARBOHYDRATES WITH FIBRES
Carbohydrates have picked up a bad reputation in this decade. But we forget that carbohydrates are necessary to provide the body with necessary energy.
Complex carbohydrates like rice, potatoes, oats etc. are all great choices to include in the sehri meal, along with a choice of meat, fish, eggs, fibre rich beans, plus a side helping of vegetables.
For iftar, this combination can be a serving of flat rice or puffed rice with a mung bean preparation and seasonal fruits, among other things. One great thing about summer, despite the heat, is the wide selection of seasonal fruits, so it’s a no-brainer to make the best use of them.
A full protein serving during sehri, particularly in the summer, will not only make you thirsty easily, but will also lead to bad breath.
As for the post-Ramadan feastings, your own dinner table can be set to continue this line of eating. The rich polao and meat dishes should always be paired with vegetables and fruits. No exceptions!
You do not want to lay waste to the good eating habits developed in a month and for it to last, just one week of careless eating will set you back.
SAY YES TO SALADS AND SOUPS
Before you groan at these ‘clichéd’ diet-foods, think again.
Salads are no longer cucumbers and tomatoes, cut and mixed together with onion slices and chopped chillies.
From homemade Caesar salads to potato salads to full vegetarian apple and mixed-nut salads — everything can be tossed together to make a delectable side dish. While not a recommended meal for sehri, this is an excellent addition (or main course) for iftar.
At the same time, soups too can be a great choice for iftar. Instead of making ‘food-flavoured tea’ from pre-packaged powders, opt for making your own soups. Recipes and ingredients are no longer a challenge and once mastered, it will be one of the quickest meals you can whip up. Both soups and salads are without-a-doubt, great choices for evening snacks, which can be maintained throughout the year.
Just go easy on the salt and sauces!
ANYTHING BUT DEEP FRIED
An iftar is incomplete without the various crispy fried, oily delicacies which we are so accustomed to (and almost always fail to drop from the menu). But there is little to no health benefits for these oil filled chunks of food.
Not only the deep frying, the oil that is used commercially is nowhere near the oil you use at home.
For starters, opt for the baked or grilled versions of similar foods. While making these at home are good choices, the extra heated hours in the kitchen are not a welcome addition while fasting.
If eliminating these cannot be a choice, try limiting the intake to once or twice a week instead of every iftar.
In the same manner, later on in the year, get into the habit of dropping this ‘delicious,’ but deadly item off your eating list.
Then next year, when Ramadan arrives, you will be able to shrug off fried food without a second glance.
AVOID COMBINING IFTAR WITH DINNER
Iftar leading to dinner is seen as time saving and often compared to brunch. But what is ignored is that on a typical day, you are able to eat and quench your thirst as you want.
Just as the afternoon/evening snack on a typical day is not immediately followed by supper, the same goes for iftar and the meal that follows it. Try to have a filling iftar and stay hydrated during the time leading to a moderate supper.
As much as you are tempted to arrange for an extravagant feast, the iftar, dinner, as well as the sehri should not differ much from your daily food, the only difference being that you have less time for your meals.
These are all simple but effective steps that can be followed throughout the month of fasting. Also, a good point to remember is to take lessons from last year’s issues.
Did you suffer from a bout of acidity after chewing down on begunis and kababs for iftar? Or, did you suffer from a bad bout of constipation throughout the fasting days or during the eid days?
Was your throat parched right after waking up in the morning?
Recall these issues and try to avoid what you did (or did not do) for a better Ramadan not only for this year, but every year!