THIS article provides useful advice on how to avoid some common problems encountered in Ramadan. If followed, it would enable you to fast comfortably and enjoy fully the spiritual benefits of Ramadan.
During Ramadan, our diet should not differ very much from our normal diet and should be as simple as possible. It should be such that we would maintain our normal weight, neither losing nor gaining. However, if one is overweight, Ramadan is a good time to shed some weight. With eating only two meals a day, you will probably lose some weight any way. In view of the long hours of fasting, we should take slow digesting foods including fibre containing-foods rather than fast-digesting foods. Slow digesting foods last up to eight hours, while fast-digesting foods last only three to four hours. Slow-digesting foods contain grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, semolina, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour and unpolished rice (called complex carbohydrates). Fast-burning foods are foods that contain sugar, white flour etc. (called refined carbohydrates). Fibre-containing foods are bran-containing foods such as whole wheat, grains and seeds, vegetables like green beans, peas, spinach, fruit with skin, dried fruit especially dried apricots, figs and prunes, almonds, etc. We should eat a well-balanced diet with food from each food group, such as fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, bread, cereals and dairy products. Fried foods are unhealthy and should be limited as they cause indigestion, heartburn and weight problems. AVOID l Fried and fatty foods. l Foods containing too much sugar. l Over-eating, especially at sahur (meal before dawn).
l Too much caffeinated drinks at sahur. Tea and coffee make you pass more urine, taking with it valuable mineral salts that your body will need during the day.
l Cigarettes. If you cannot give up smoking, cut down gradually, starting a few weeks before Ramadan.
EAT l Complex carbohydrates at sahur so that the food lasts longer, making you less hungry. l Dates are excellent source of sugar, fibre, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium. l Almonds are rich in protein and fibre with less fat.
l Bananas are a good source of potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates.
DRINK As much water or pure fruit juices as possible between buka puasa (start of fasting) and bedtime so that your body can adjust fluid levels in time. Aim to drink at least 1.2 -1.5 litres of fluid. During this period, changes need to be made with regard to the diet. The following may serve as a general guide: Suggested schedule 7.28pm (or appropriate time): Break fast (buka puasa) with a light meal, for example, savoury congee and some fruit and dates with a sugar-free drink. This is like a snack.
Follow with maghrib prayers (fourth of five formal daily prayers for practising Muslims).
8pm: Have a breakfast-type meal. Practical examples of good breakfasts are an omelette, a bowl of high fibre cereals and some fresh fruit, baked beans and a little avocado on whole grain toast with a glass of skimmed milk and a handful of raisins or a big bowl of oat porridge with grated apple and a yoghurt. 8.40pm: Isyak /Terawih Prayers (the last of the daily prayers for Muslims.
10pm: Have a lunch-like meal — rice with lean meat, fish and vegetables and followed by a fruit or a low calorie dessert or a pasta dish with salads or just plain old good hot noodles soup. 11.30pm: Sleep 4.45am or 5am: This is the most important meal to start the day. Have a dinner-type meal. The biggest problem is being able to face such foods so early in the morning. But do try your best as the more you eat, the less likely you are to flake out completely in the middle of the day.