How to eat healthy during Ramzan season

Ramzan or Ramadan is the holy month of blessings which is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. This is believed to be the month that the Koran was first revealed by God to Prophet Muhammad. During this, the followers of Islamic religion fast from sunrise to sunset. The purpose of fasting is to teach self-discipline, patience and spirituality and encourage charitable works.

This year Ramzan will be observed till 7 August 2013, followed by Eid-al-Fitr on 8 August.

The meals consumed after or before the fast or ‘roza’ is basically categorised into the pre-dawn meal, known as ‘Suhoor/Suhur’ and ‘Iftar’ or the meal that ends the day’s fast.

Feasting on a daily basis after the fasting will just lead to a host of health problems, including unnecessary weight gain, so it makes more sense to keep the feasting for Eid.

Say no to fatty foods. They make you sluggish. Pic courtesy: Christine A. Darius/Wikimedia Commons

The trick to eating healthy through Ramzan is to follow your regular food patterns at Suhoor and Iftar. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning out the meals during this Holy month:

  • Include fibre-rich foods: A meal high in fiber stays for a longer time in the stomach keeping you feeling full for a longer period of time. Complex carbohydrates in the meal like whole grains- unpolished/semi-polished rice, whole wheat phulkas, ragi mudde/rotti or jolada(jowar) rotis along with plenty of vegetables in the form of sabzis/sabzi and salads help in releasing the energy slowly throughout the day.
  • Include proteins: Add some protein, not only to balance the meal, but also because protein has been shown to be more satiating than carbohydrates. Choose protein from legumes/pulses like dal, rajma, alasande kalu(black eyed peas), double beans or lean meats like fish or skinned chicken or even eggs.
  • Keep yourself hydrated: To keep yourself hydrated, drink water during these meals and also add water-rich foods like southekai/cucumber, sorrekai/bottlegourd , watermelon, muskmelon and yelneeru/ tender coconut water.
  • Avoid: Fried and greasy foods and snacks like mixtures, samosas, fried chicken as the fat in them makes you feel sluggish.
  • Avoid salty foods (especially during Suhoor): Pickles, papads, chips, ketchups, salted nuts and packaged foods like soup mixes, instant noodles – all these need to be avoided, as this can make you thirsty during the day.
  • Avoid desserts/ sweets: Do not eat them on a daily basis. Instead, opt for fresh fruits to end your meal. Fruits are not only loaded with vitamins, but are also good sources of fibre and water.

Keep your meals light by using less oil, spices and salt, so that they do not cause heartburn/ acidity which can be a problem for some after fasting. If you are already suffering from acidity, then it would be wise to avoid coffee, fried and spicy foods as they tend to increase the gastric secretions and will irritate the stomach lining.

Here is what a healthy meal can comprise of during Suhoor (pre-dawn meal):

Meal 1: Phulkas + Egg curry + Capsicum Sabzi + Cucumber Raita and Muskmelon. Or

Meal 2: Idli + Capsicum Sambar + Kabuli Chana Salad +Buttermilk + Apple. Or

Meal 3: Omelette Sandwich (whole wheat bread) + Mushroom and Beans Sabzi + Tomato, cucumber salad + Ragi ganji/porridge +Papaya

The fast is traditionally broken with dates and water after which you can opt for:

Meal 1: Jolada rotti + Fish curry+ Brinjal sabzi + Mixed veg raita + Banana .Bedtime: Milk OR

Meal 2:Ragi Mudde + Soppina saaru (dal palak)+ Bendekai(bhindi) sabzi + Carrot kosambari + Curd+ Pineapple Bedtime: Buttermilk Or

Meal 3:Rice+ Chicken curry + Cauliflower and peas sabzi + Tomato raita + Mango. Bedtime: Ragi kanji/porridge

Festivals bring families together and there’s nothing better than eating with the entire family. After the fast and sensible eating through the month of Ramzan, the feast of Biryanis and kheer on Eid will be much more appealing to all.

Ramzan Mubarak to all!

About Sweta Uchil-Purohit 14 Articles

Sweta Uchil-Purohit is a dietitian with over 15 years of experience in the field of nutrition and dietetics with a passion for helping people understand the topic.