Do not stuff yourselves, it is fasting not feasting

It is vital to maintain healthy nutrition especially during the month of Ramadhan. During this period Muslims abstain from consuming food and drink, from dawn until dusk.

This will be about 14-15 hours of fasting depending on the country one is located. The body uses the food eaten during your previous meal and stored as carbohydrates and fats to provide you with energy for daily activities.

This can explain why some people lose weight in Ramadan because they consume a de?ciency of calories during the night and early morning meals and hence the body uses the reserve. The healthiest way to fast

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1. Hydration

With this intense heat, one has to be cautious during the summer, you need to be vigilant with your hydration. When fasting drinking water is the last thing you will think about, but dehydration can occur if we are not careful.

Drinking water is required to rejuvenate our body, keep our blood sugar stable and to prevent symptoms of headache, tiredness, increased thirst, dizziness and difficulty concentrating.

The amount of water is quite individualized but most experts report that at least two litres are required.

2. Break your fast slowly don’t overindulge

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We all crave sugary treats that give us an instant satisfaction this is because the body lacks energy. The ?rst meal taken to breaking the fast should have natural sugars and should provide minerals like potassium, copper, manganese, a good source of ?bre.

A good example is dates and others include dried fruits like apricots, ?gs, raisins or prunes. For those who would usually consume it with caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea, they are advised to switch during this month for a decaffeinated alternative. As caffeine can lead to mild dehydration which would affect the already parched individual in the hot summer.

Avoid fried foods as they lead to extensive bloating and heartburn in three quarter of individual and adds no bene?t to your general health, try bake instead or even air-fry.

3. Avoid splurging

After breaking fast at sunset, foods consumed vary depending on tradition, culture and environment.

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Plan a one-portion meal and aim to stick to it the night before you begin. A level of consistency and moderation is key to maintain balanced blood sugar, weight management and it is also important to regulate bowel movements and energy during fasting.

This can be implemented by balancing the proportions of vegetable to carbohydrates and protein. Putting some protein and ?bre into your stomach ?rst thing may curb your appetite during the rest of the day.

A high protein meal allows maintenance of muscle mass, a moderate amount of carbohydrates and healthy fats for energy and a generous portion of vegetables to provide ?bre which helps in prevention of constipation which is very common during Ramadan. Its advice to eat in than to eat out which will reduce the partaking of processed food and fast foods that contain high sodium and saturated fat.

4. Never skip breakfast

The meal is eaten before dawn is called, ‘Suhour’ which is an important meal.

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Dr David S. Ludwig a nutrition expert at Harvard-affiliated Children’s Hospital Boston in an interview explained “Skipping breakfast throws off the normal circadian rhythm of fasting and feeding. Breakfast is the worst time to Skip a meal.”

This is a pre-dawn meal that helps you stay satiated and fueled up on energy and nutrients until your next meal at dusk. It also deters you from overeating when you break your fast at sunset.

A well-balanced meal at breakfast entails

1) a complex carbohydrate (oats, lentils, grains, which are a slow releasing carbohydrate that helps in keeping your blood sugar steady and provide you with a feeling of satiety).

2) High-? bre foods (apricots, ?gs, bran, prunes and prunes).

3) Protein-rich foods (tuna, salmon, chicken, lean red meat.

Others People who have Type 1 Diabetes are generally advised not to fast. Those that have their diabetes under control by oral medication may be allowed to fast in consultation with his Physician.

Persons who are unwell, elderly, pregnant, children, travellers are advised not to fast.

If any of these individuals want to fast it’s important to get medical advice from their physician to ensure you can do so safely if you do decide to fast.

Bottom line /Take home message Fasting in Ramadan is a religious practice in which one abstains from food and beverages and practice moderation.

Let’s take heed in what Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Moderation in all things, especially moderation.’’ 

Dr Nasra Abdi Ali, Accident and Emergency Medical Officer

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