The divinely ordained season of Ramadan visits us every year to purge us of the unwanted and rekindle our relationship with our deep-rooted Islamic faith and with our near and dear ones.

The mandate to fast makes the holy month a rigorous one, testing the spiritual core of every believer.

Fasting changes our eating patterns and slows our body’s metabolism as meals are limited to the morning and evening hours. We tend to experience discomfort as we abstain from food and drink from sunup to sundown. Some of us even have bouts of dizziness and fatigue due to lowered blood sugar levels.

Eating a balanced and healthy diet for every Ramadan meal will keep all your fasting woes at bay and you can end this Ramadan with a renewed focus on healthy eating and truly maximize the benefits of your fasting days.

The healthy eating plate

The Ramadan healthy eating plate shows the different food groups that you need to have on your plate for a complete and balanced meal. Divide your food into three meals - suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, iftar to break the fast, and dinner. Every Ramadan meal should be wholesome and healthy yet nourishing enough to provide you with enough energy for many hours.

A good rule of thumb is to fill half of your plate with an assortment of colourful vegetables and fruits, one-fourth with complex carbs and the other fourth with protein rich foods such as chicken, fish, red meat, lentils or eggs.

Grains: Complete your Ramadan plate with a serving of food made with complex carbohydrates like whole wheat, brown rice etc. These complex fibre-rich carbs will fuel your body and brain during the long hours of fasting. They release energy over a longer period of time and maintains good glucose levels throughout the day.

Water and Dairy: Remember to up your fluid intake. Drink at least 8-12 glasses of water during the non-fasting hours to stay hydrated. Dairy is also essential for a balanced diet. It’s a good idea to start your suhoor with a glass of low fat milk or yoghurt. Avoid caffeine-based drinks like tea, coffee and sugary colas. Caffeine acts as a diuretic and causes faster water loss through urination.

Healthy Oils & Fats: A small measure of healthy oils and fats like olive oil and canola oil are also necessary in a Ramadan meal. Measure the oil in spoonfuls instead of just pouring it directly from the bottle. To decrease the amount of oil used, opt for healthier cooking methods like baking and grilling instead of deep frying your food.

Always remember that your Ramadan meal should be a balanced meal and not a time to binge eat. Many a time, we go overboard and eat unhealthy dishes and indulge in more than what is needed for our body. Keep it simple with meals from every major food group and you will have a wholesome and healthy Ramadan season with your family and friends.

Vegetables and Fruits: Fill half of your plate with a variety of nutritious fruits and vegetables. You can blitz veggies like carrots, tomatoes and pumpkin into a puree for a healthy and nourishing soup for iftar. Go for hydrating fruits like watermelon to make your juices; this helps in replenishing the water levels in your body. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals and will supply the nutrients that a fasting person needs.

Proteins: Don’t forget to include a protein to your iftar, suhoor and every Ramadan meal. It is ideal to fill one-fourth of your plate with protein as they are essential for your body cells and leave you feeling satiated. Choose low fat source of proteins like lean meat, poultry, fish, beans or eggs.

Source: Nestle