Monday, August 1, 2011

Ramadan: A Time Of Healthy Feasts!

          During the holy month of Ramadan, practicing Muslims fast all day. No drinking or eating is allowed from sunrise till sunset. Fasting is an act where Muslims learn patience, spirituality, humility and submissiveness to God. It is a form of sacrifice.

However, no one ever said that they needed to sacrifice their health for that matter! Each and every one of us can practice religion while staying in shape!

What are the eating habits during Ramadan?

The Iftar is the evening meal they have when it’s time to break the fast. It’s a multiple course feast. It starts with dates and sometimes other dried fruits. The drinks are then served. They could be a Jallab, Amareddine or Laban. They are followed by a soup, salad and hot appetizers just before the main course. Finally, come the desserts and fruits.
Right before sunrise, some practicing Muslims wake up and have a meal called Shour. It is sort of a breakfast: Manakeesh, cheese, labneh etc. are served. 

What are the health issues during this period?

The problems encountered by dieters during Ramadan month are numerous. Instead of having 3 meals/day, they are forced to have a maximum of 1 or 2 “not so light” meals, consisting of a large amount of high calorie foods. Besides, they ingest all calories late at night. It also becomes very hard to meet the needs for water, the most indispensable nutrient.
In addition to that, physical activity becomes very rare.  
And finally, they often suffer from constipation.

What is the solution then?

There is no doubt that fasting all day affects each and everyone’s ability to control themselves when they see food. It’s ok! It happens. However, when you’re planning for a whole month of fasting and feasting, some measures should be taken!

1. During Iftar

- Keep the traditional dates as they are highly nutritious. Just limit yourself to 1 or 2.
- Focus more on water or diet soda as a drink. Allow yourself a Jallab, Amareddine or Laban once a week only as they are rich in calories!
- Soups are a great idea. They keep you well hydrated, fill your stomach and speed up the feeling of satiety. However, make sure the soup is home-made and not one of those commercial mixes high in salt and saturated fats. Go for vegetable soups rather than carbohydrate-rich ones such as lentil soup.
Salads are even better. Have lots of them so you can be sure to get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals. But be careful while pouring oil into the sauce.
- Skip the appetizers. They’re usually high calorie pastries, fries, etc. So if you can jump directly to the main course, it would be perfect!
- Cut down on the carbs during the main course. The latter is usually rice with meat. You can put a small amount of rice in your plate and a larger amount of meat. Be careful! Sometimes these dishes are garnished with fried nuts. Try to avoid them!
- Have fruits for dessert. The desserts served during Ramadan are extremely delicious. However, they go straight to your heart and your thighs! Allow yourself one type of dessert once a week. As for the rest of the days, have a fruit rich in vitamins!

2. Between Iftar and Shour: 
After such a heavy meal (Iftar), you can’t help but feel sleepy. Nevertheless, you should make the effort to engage in some physical activity. Go for a walk around the neighborhood or perhaps help with the dishes!

3. Sleep for a few hours before Shour: 
Sleep is very important especially for weight loss. Studies have shown that people who sleep for less than 6 hours or more than 8 have more difficulties staying in shape. So get some rest before Shour time.

4. During Shour:
The 700 calorie Man’ouche is not exactly the best idea after the evening feast. So have a light snack. Go for sandwiches with brown bread (rich in fibers) so it gives u a longer satiety with light labneh or cheese.

5. Drink lots of water:
Even though you won’t feel that much thirst during such a short period of time, try to drink around 1.5 to 2 l of water.

If you follow all of the above, you won’t have to worry about constipation. Fruits, vegetables, and brown bread will provide you with enough fibers so you can have a normal digestion!

          It is very difficult to fast all day and then think of the calories at night, just when you got the chance to finally eat! No one’s asking you to do that! Just try to enjoy those gatherings in their social and spiritual aspect and you will find yourself eating just the right quantity of food!


Paty M said...

Im loving ur posts Nadine!! Very informative & exhaustive!

Nadine Issa said...

Thanks Paty!! :D

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