Eating Healthy During Ramadan
By Nazima Qureshi
It is that time of year again, when Muslims from around the world celebrate Ramadan and fast from sunrise to sunset daily for a month. Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection as well as a time for communities and families to come together. While it is a very special month for those celebrating, it can be confusing to know exactly what to eat to provide you with enough energy to get you through your fasts.
Eating healthy during Ramadan goes beyond going on a diet or losing weight. Eating the right foods will help you fuel your body the right way so you feel less tired and have more energy throughout the day. Making healthier food choices at suhoor will help you feel fuller for longer and provide you with the nutrients required for your body to get you through to iftar.
The most important tip during Ramadan is to make sure you wake up for suhoor and eat. Considering that suhoor is very early during the summer months, you may be tempted to sleep in and skip suhoor. With long fasting hours, eating during the prescribed timings is essential to fueling your body. Prepare your suhoor the night before so it is ready for you and your family in the morning.
Eating the right types of foods during suhoor can help you feel fuller while maximizing your nutrition intake.
Try these 5 ways to make your suhoor healthier this Ramadan:
- Choose foods high in protein. Eating protein at suhoor will help you feel full while maintaining and building muscle in your body. Include these protein-packed foods at suhoor:
- Greek yogurt
- Select whole grain carbohydrates. The South Asian diet is usually heavily dependent on carbohydrates. While carbohydrates are an important part of your diet, selecting the right type and amount of carbs will help you create a healthy well-balanced meal. Whole grains have fibre, providing you with energy slowly and making you feel fuller for a longer time. Avoid products made with white flour, such as white bread. Try these whole grain carbohydrate options at suhoor:
- Whole grain bread
- Whole grain bagels
- Whole grain naan
Swap your regular breakfast cereal for one of these whole grains. Cereals are primarily made up of carbohydrates that digest quickly, leaving you feeling hungry after a short period of time.
- Fill up on healthy fats. Fat can get a bad reputation but it is actually an important part of your diet to help your body function optimally. Adding healthy fats to your suhoor will help you feel fuller and satisfied. Select healthy fats such as:
- Peanut or almond butter
- Sunflower seeds
- Ground flaxseed
- Hemp seeds
- Add a fruit or vegetable to every suhoor. Fruits and vegetables are high in fibre and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, making it an easy way to up your nutrition at suhoor. Choose fruits and veggies that have higher water content such as watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, and lettuce to keep you hydrated. Change up your choice of fruit or veggie to ensure you are getting a wide variety of nutrients.
- Make drinking water a priority. With very few hours to eat, drinking enough water can be a hard task. Aim to have at least 2-3 cups of water at suhoor. Keep a jug full of water at the table so you can drink more water throughout your meal without having to repeatedly get up from the dinner table.
These tips allow you to eat and enjoy a variety of foods at suhoor while providing you and your family with the optimal nutrition needed for a successful day of fasting.
Here are 3 ideas for suhoor that incorporate all of the nutrition tips:
- 1 cup cooked steel cut oatmeal + 1 Tbsp flaxseed + 2 Tbsp hemp seed + 2 Tbsp peanut butter + 1 sliced banana + 1 tsp Maple syrup (Note: nuts and seeds are good sources of protein and fat)
- 2 egg omelette with ½ spinach and 1 oz. cheese + ½ avocado + 1 whole grain tortilla
- 2-4% fat plain Greek yogurt + 10 almonds + ½ cup frozen berries + 1 Tbsp flax seed + 1 Tbsp hemp seed
Looking for a way to simplify meal planning at suhoor? Check out this free printable suhoor meal planner. Print it out, post it on your fridge, and use it to plan your suhoor for the week!
Note: This post should be used for informational purposes only. Always consult with your physician and registered dietitian before making any dietary changes.
Nazima Qureshi is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Personal Trainer, and Public Health Professional. She uses a non-diet approach (which always includes dessert!) to help others achieve a healthier lifestyle. For more information, visit www.NutritionbyNazima.com or check out her Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
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