The quality of your diet is especially important during Ramadan as you only have a short window each day to provide your body with the essential nutrients and fluids it needs.
Here are some tips along with a balanced plate graphic for a guide to amounts per food group:
• Start slowly - Start your meal with nourishing and fluid-rich foods that are gentle on your digestion such as lentil soup.
• Fruit & veg 50% - Fill half your plate with vegetables, choose a variety of colours to get a wider range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. And snack on hydrating fruit such as watermelon and oranges.
• Protein 25% - Choose either lean unprocessed meats or plant-based proteins such as chickpeas, lentils and beans to help stabilise your blood sugars and reduce cravings.
• Carbs & wholegrains 15% - Choose complex carbs instead of the white ones. For example, brown rice instead of white rice, sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. Complex carbs contain essential vitamins and minerals and more fibre for preventing constipation as well as providing energy and keeping you fuller for longer.
• Fat 10% - Essential fats such as avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds and oily fish (salmon or mackerel) are important for healthy cells and hormones as well as supporting absorption of nutrients.
• Sugar - Breaking your fast with dates helps to normalise blood sugar levels and provides a quick source of energy and nutrients. Enjoy other sweets as you wish but be aware that high sugar desserts can make you hungry (and thirsty) again quite quickly.
• Stay hydrated - It's important to replace fluids lost during the day (through urinating and sweating) and to start the next day well hydrated. Drink 1-2 glasses of water every hour throughout iftar and suhoor. Consuming fluid-rich foods, such as fruit, veg, yoghurt, soups and stews is also helpful. Avoid consuming a lot of salty foods as this stimulates thirst.
• Eat slowly and mindfully - not only to prevent indigestion but to really enjoy and appreciate the food and remember why you are fasting. It can be tempting to make up for lost time but your digestion can only manage so much in one go so wait 20 minutes before going in for seconds or thirds as it takes this long for your digestive system to register if you are full.
• Suhoor - Prepare something in advance so you're not faffing about in the kitchen while half asleep. Overnight oats are ideal for this as they provide the wholegrains, protein and natural sugar for energy. Combine oats, yoghurt, nut butter and frozen berries in a jar. Mix together, top with nuts and seeds and put in the fridge, ready to eat when you wake up. for suhoor.
For personalised nutritional support, please book a mini health review to discuss your health goals and explore how nutritional therapy can help you.