Here we are yet again, just few days round the corner and the glorious islamic blessed month of Ramadan will be upon us once again.
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Muslim lunar calendar. Healthy adult Muslims fast in Ramadan from dawn until dusk. This includes abstaining from drinking, eating, immoral acts and anger. Other acts of worship such as prayer, reading the Quran and charity are also encouraged during Ramadan.
Different cultures have different traditions during Ramadan, whether it is a special food they must cook, or eating iftar with the extended family. Islamic tenets, such as generosity, inspired most of these traditions, such as sharing food and inviting guests over for iftar.
Why fast in Ramadan? Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. There is also a verse in the Quran that prescribes fasting for all Muslims who are mature and healthy enough to fast for the full day. So, Muslims fast as an act of worship, a chance to get closer to God and a way to become more compassionate to those in need. Fasting is also seen as a way to learn patience and break bad habits.
The festive season of Ramdan is one that’s known for the delicacies that are served to break the fast.
When it comes to eating food after breaking the fast we see people going berserk with food in the evening. Iftar is not some wild party where you only eat, Infact it’s a time to nurture your appetite with devotion and sharing and so the common plate and prayers around it.
Below I’ll share and suggest some ideas on “what and when to eat” during this blessed month of Ramadan.
Don’t worry fasting won’t effect your health: For many people, the key question regarding fasting is whether it is good or bad for your health. The answer to this requires a quick overview of what happens inside the body during fasting: the physiology of fasting.
The changes that occur in the body in response to fasting depend on the length of the continuous fast. Technically the body enters into a fasting state eight hours or so after the last meal, when the gut finishes absorption of nutrients from the food. In the normal state, body glucose, which is stored in the liver and muscles, is the body’s main source of energy. During a fast, this store of glucose is used up first to provide energy. Later in the fast, once the stores
of glucose run out, fat becomes the next store source of energy for the body. Small quantities of glucose are also ‘manufactured’ through other mechanisms in the liver.
Only with a prolonged fast of many days to weeks does the body eventually turn to protein for energy. This is the technical description of what is commonly known as ‘starvation’, and it is clearly unhealthy. It involves protein being released from the breakdown of muscle, which
is why people who starve look emaciated and become very weak. As the Ramadan fast only extends from dawn till dusk, there is ample opportunity to replenish energy stores at pre-dawn and dusk meals. This provides a progressive, gentle transition from using glucose to fat as the main source of energy, and prevents the breakdown of muscle for protein. The use of fat for energy aids weight loss, preserving the muscles, and in the long run reduces
your cholesterol levels. In addition, weight loss results in better control of diabetes and reduces blood pressure.
A detoxification process also seems to occur, as any toxins stored in the body’s fat are dissolved and removed from the body. After a few days of the fast, higher levels of certain hormones appear in the blood (endorphins), resulting in a better level of alertness and an overall feeling of general mental well-being.
What to eat for Suhoor or sehri ( The pre-dawn meal)
Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, should be a wholesome, moderate meal that is filling and provides enough energy for many hours. It is therefore particularly important to include slowly-digesting foods in the suhoor.
Get up early, so that you have lot of time to eat and take a break in between if needed. You can’t just stuff everything at once, Or it will result in you feeling uneasy.
Foods to include: Curd, banana and date shake, roti( Indian flat bread) with sabzi or any simple gravy, dry fruits, fruit yogurt, milk etc.
A bowl full of oats and nuts would do too, and few eggs (very healthy option).
Don’t forget to drink enough water.
Foods to avoid: Oily food, spicy food, store brought stuff, sweets, too much of rice, cold juices, carbonated drinks etc
Note: If taking medicine for any illness consult with doctor if you can have that medicine during suhoor.
What to eat for Iftaar ( the meal that breaks the fast)
Iftar is the meal which breaks the day’s fast. This meal could include dates, following the Prophetic traditions.
Foods to include: Dates will provide a refreshing burst of much-needed energy. Fresh homemade Fruit juices will also have a similar, revitalising effect.
The meal should remain a meal and not become a feast! Try to minimise the rich, special dishes that traditionally celebrate the fast and keep to the advice included in the table opposite.
During iftar, a series of snacks are cooked. Some people prefer to have a few snacks and opt for having a complete dinner after. It usually includes spicy vegetable or paneer fritters, spicy fruit chaat, dal, dates, and sometimes fruit custard. There is this special rosy pink syrup called Rooh Afza, made from a mix of ingredients including coriander, orange, pineapple, carrot, rose petals, spinach, and mint. No Ramadan is complete without a bottle of Rooh Afza. This drink is a staple in most of the Muslim people house for iftar.
Recipe of roohafza sharbet:
1/2 cup Roohafza
1 glass Water
Juice of 1 lemon (optional)
1/2 cup Soaked basil seeds(Sabja seeds)
Just add enough quantity of water in roohafza, add rest of the ingredients. Mix well and sip in the best natural healthy drink.
Foods to avoid: It is impossible to avoid oily food during Iftaar, but you can still try and avoid it, other alternatives of oily food and fritters include, sandwiches, paranthas, dhoklas, idli, poha, Upma etc
You can make pakoras or fritters very healthy by adding green leafy vegetables in it. For example in onion pakoras add lots of spinach and make it more like a spinach pakora
Recipe here: Spinach or Paalak Pakora
You can avoid excess food. Try and have lots of fruits.
What to eat for dinner
Keep it simple.
Idea 1-you can have 1 or 2 rotis with sabzi and dal
Idea 2-Rice + dal + sabzi
Idea 3 -Rice + fish/ chicken + sabzi
Idea4- Veg pulao + raita/
Idea 5- Rice with rajma
Idea 6- Paratha + dahi
Idea 7- appam/ dosai with veggies
Finally if you have some space left in your stomach you can drink a glass of milk before sleeping.
Remember to drink more and more water after Iftaar.
Hope this suggestions would help people who are new to fasting or who have been fasting for years.
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