Islam has encouraged Muslims to try their best to take up a healthy living lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular mental and physical exercise and a balance between material and spiritual needs.
The blessed Prophet (peace be upon him) has said: “The children of Adam fill no vessel worse than their stomach. Sufficient for him is a few morsels to keep his back straight. If he must eat more, then a third should be for his food, a third for his drink, and a third left for air.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi)
The blessed month of Ramadan is a great opportunity to focus on bringing back a balanced and healthy lifestyle in our life. Our diet should be such that we maintain our normal weight, neither losing nor gaining.
In view of the long hours of fasting, we should consume slow digesting foods including fibre containing-foods rather than fast-digesting foods. Slow digesting foods last up to 8 hours, while fast-digesting foods last for only 3 to 4 hours.
Slow-digesting foods are:
Foods that contain grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour, unpolished rice, etc. (called complex carbohydrates).
Fast-burning foods are:
Foods that contain sugar, white flour, etc. (called refined carbohydrates).
Include: bran, cereals, whole wheat, grains and seeds, potatoes with the skin, vegetables such as green beans peas, sem (papry), marrow, mealies, spinach, and other herbs like methi, the leaves of beetroot (iron-rich), fruit with skin, dried fruit especially dried apricots, figs and prunes, almonds, etc. are foods that contain sugar, white flour, etc. (called refined carbohydrates).
The foods eaten should be well-balanced, containing foods from each food group, i.e. fruits, vegetables, meat/chicken/fish, bread/cereals and dairy products. Fried foods are unhealthy and should be limited. They cause indigestion, heart-burn, and weight problems.
- Fried and fatty foods.
- Foods containing too much sugar.
- Over-eating especially at sehri.
- Too much tea at sehri. Tea makes you pass more urine taking with it valuable mineral salts that your body would need during the day.
- Smoking cigarettes. If you cannot give up smoking, cut down gradually starting a few weeks before Ramadan. Smoking is unhealthy and one should stop completely.
- Complex carbohydrates at sehri so that the food lasts longer making you less hungry.
- Haleem is an excellent source of protein and is a slow-burning food.
- Dates are excellent source of sugar, fibre, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium.
- Almonds are rich in protein and fibre with less fat.
- Bananas are a good source of potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates.
Drink as much water or fruit juices as possible between iftar and bedtime so that the body may adjust fluid levels in time.
Following these guidelines could help through the day and the whole month of fasting. With less time to eat in Ramadan, we must pay attention to what we eat. The food we eat before we start our fast or to break our fast needs to provide the optimal energy so we can accomplish our daily tasks and increase our worship.
For any medical advice, please consult a member of the medical profession.
Note: The views expressed are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect that of ImamsOnline.