Mvita Mp Abdulswamad Nassir (standing) joins young Muslim children of Ocean View Nursery and Buhaniya Nursery school eating in snacks at their school in Old Town , Mombasa County. Picture taken on 011th June,2017. This was during breaking of fasting (Iftar) in the ongoing holy month of Ramadhan. [Maarufu Mohamed,Standard]

The month of Ramadan is here again. With the long hours of fasting and a wide variety of sumptuous meals to choose from for Iftar and Suhoor, healthy eating and keeping off those extra kilos can be quite a challenge. However, this need not always be the case. It is possible to maintain healthy eating habits throughout Ramadan.

The following tips can help you eat healthy and keep extra kilos at bay

1.     Break the fast with some dates.

Breaking a fast with dates is an Islamic tradition. Dates are a good source of energy, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Dates are easily digestible making them a quick source of energy and nutrients. This helps satiate you and consequently avoid overeating. The glycemic load of dates is low causing little impact on blood sugar when eaten in moderation. Dates are also rich in potassium and magnesium which aids in restoring the body’s electrolyte balance and hydrating the body. Having two to four medium sized dates with water is a good way to break the fast.

2.     Drink fluids before eating

Most people who fast during Ramadan will experience some form of dehydration.  If one goes straight to solid food, they are likely to fill up their stomach before they get a chance to rehydrate. Water, fresh fruit juices, and clear soups provide the body with essential fluids, reduces risk of dehydration and prepares the body for the main meals.

3.     Moderate your intake

During Ramadan, the window of eating is very small. One may be tempted to eat large meals to compensate for the time one has to stay without food. It is advisable to take at least four smaller frequent meals between breaking the fast and going to bed. Focus on faster digesting proteins like egg whites, fish, skinless chicken and nutritious carbohydrates like fruits and whole grains. Complex carbohydrates and sources of good fats like avocado, nuts and seeds form good sources of bedtime snacks.

4.  Prepare your Suhoor before bed

Due to the small eating and sleeping window during Ramadan, it is better to prepare Suhoor, (the light meal taken before the start of the of the fast) before going to bed. This ensures that you don’t skip the only meal that fuels your body for the next 12 hours. Suhoor should be high in complex carbohydrates, high in fibre, proteins and good fats to fuels the body throughout and keep one energetic and active.

5.     Use healthier cooking methods

Fried foods and pastries often high in sugar, fats and salt are a common delicacy during Ramadan. If consumed excessively, they can leave one feeling fatigued, bloated and with a few extra kilos, and inches around your waist. When cooking your meals, use healthier methods like steaming and stir frying or other methods that use small amount of oil.

Taking care of your diet during Ramadan is very important. It will help you stay energetic and productive throughout the period, and will also help you finish Ramadan without any hiccup.