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Blog: Feast and Famine

The Blessed Prophet 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, than a third should be for his food, a third for his drink, and a third left for air". Sunan-al-Tirmidhi



Fasting in the month of Ramadan gives us the opportunity to make significant positive changes to our lifestyle and improve our eating habits. However depending on what you eat between Ifthar and Suhoor fasting can worsen your health. What you eat should be simple and should include a variety of foods.


What should I eat?

Suhoor

This meal should be filling and provide slow release energy during the long hours of fasting such as complex carbohydrates and fibre rich foods found in oats, wheat, barley, beans , pulses and most fruits.

Ifthar


Opening your fast with 3 dates and a glass of fruit juice will help normalise your blood glucose levels. This meal should remain simple and not become a feast of multiple foods high in fat and sugar.

Post Taraweeh

It is important to drink plenty of fluid and top up with some healthy snacks e.g. handful of nuts, fruits, a couple of fig biscuits / jaffa cake biscuits or cream crackers and cheese.


Common Health Issues

Heartburn

When we eat a meal the stomach produces acid to help digest the food. So you would expect the acid in our stomach to decrease when we’re fasting but the smell and thought of food can also trigger acid to be released. This is why during fasting we may experience heartburn.

If you routinely take medication to treat heartburn it is wise to continue taking your medicine at Suhoor.


Eating smaller, lighter meals, avoiding oily, fried and spicy foods can also help reduce heartburn. Reducing drinks containing caffeine e.g. fizzy drinks, tea, and coffee can also help. Being overweight can also contribute to heartburn symptoms.


Headache

Many people experience headaches during long fasting hours. Commonly dehydration, hunger, the withdrawal from caffeine or nicotine as well as a busy schedule can all contribute to headache symptoms.


It is important to prepare yourself for Ramadan by starting to reduce caffeine and nicotine. Take adequate rest and try increasing your fluid intake. It is wise to remain fully hydrated before fasting and do not skip the suhoor meal. Regularly taking a paracetamol at Suhoor may help reduce the risk of a headache. Taking breaks from long periods at a computer screen and massaging tense neck muscles may also help.


Dehydration

When we fast our body continues to lose water and salts. If we don’t fully rehydrate our self before a fast, the risk of us becomes dehydrated during the fast increases. Children and the elderly are at a high risk. Common symptoms of dehydration are feeling unwell, tiredness, dizziness, muscle cramps, disorientation or fainting.

It’s important to aim for at least 2 litres of fluid during non fasting hours. Try to include foods with a high water content e.g. soups and fruits to help achieve your fluid target.


Constipation

This is a common problem during fasting when you change your diet to include large meals, fried and sugary foods.

Including whole grains, vegetables, pulses and salads in your ifthar meal can help. At suhoor try and choose oat based cereals and include fruits to increase your soluble fibre intake. Remember to double your fluid intake at each meal.


Finally, changing our eating routines, sleeping routines and types of food we choose to eat during fasting can lead to increased stress levels. Indulging in feasting during non fasting hours may lead to unnecessary weight gain.


Use this opportunity to achieve a healthy and balanced lifestyle by managing our eating habits. Enjoy a blessed Ramadan

For more information take a look at www.simplydiet.co.uk Shamshad Shah BSc (Hons) RD PGCE PCET


Copyright © All rights reserved. For permission to reprint e-mail shamshad@simplydiet.com

For more information take a look at www.simplydiet.co.uk Shamshad Shah BSc (Hons) RD PGCE PCET

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The Muslim Doctors Association is a non-profit, voluntary organisation founded in 2004. Our team of doctors, dentists and allied health professionals work within local communities to empower and support individuals to lead healthier lives. 

Our mission, by using faith and culturally sensitive methods, is to inspire physical, spiritual and emotional well-being amongst local communities and in particular, minority populations within the United Kingdom.

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