Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection, Quranic recitations and self-development. But it is also the time for festivities and foods. Lots of Food. Although it is the month of abstinence, we likely eat more junk food in Ramadan than any other month in the Islamic year. The cultural norms that have evolved include day time siestas to buffets for iftar, making this the most unhealthy month for the body. It’s around the corner and it’s never too late to prepare what is coming ahead!
During the state of starvation ( for 19 hours or more if you are in Canada), your metabolism slows down, your glucose stores are used up, your liver switches to use fat and muscle breakdown for energy and your brain is likely on sleep mode. Then, the consumption of fat and sugar laden foods add pressure on your liver to speed up the processing of fat and sugar metabolism leaving much room for not getting rid of accumulated toxins. Sugar readily stays in your blood stream until insulin is activated for a quick uptake of electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium and phosphate) into the cells for energy. This cycle continues every 8 hours you starve, daily for the rest of the month.
With a few days shy of this heavenly month, let’s find out how best to prepare for Ramadan to make it a healthy one for you and put less stress on your body while you prepare your soul for a heavenly abode.
- Make a Ramadan Menu Calendar for your fridge that contains Sahoor and Iftar for the whole month. Leave room for days you want to visit friends, family, visit the mosque or for dining out. Try to incorporate healthy eating including fruits, whole grains and salads to your Sahoor and Iftar. Also do some vegetarian meals such as black bean fajitas or rice and lentils. Do have some “junk” food on the weekends. After all, all things in moderation! Also consider some pot-luck days with family or friends that live close by. This will give you days that you get a “break”. If you are a woman, maybe during your “off” week, cook for your friends and then ask them to reciprocate on their “off” weeks (“off” week usually refers to when woman are on their menses and are not required to fast thus, making meal time management a bit easier.)
2. Make ahead Sahoor Ideas! I do meal preps on Sundays (but, feel free to pick any day you wish!). I usually cut some fruit salad, fruit chaat on hand to use for Sahoor or Iftar. I also make a batter for omelette/frittata, eggs sous vida to use for sahoor so I don’t have to do too much meal prep in the early hours of the night (3 am for us Vancouver, Canada folks!). Frittata, Quiche and Eggs sous Vida can be cooked and frozen. They are easily heated in the microwave as well. Overnight oats are an another option. If you prefer a lighter Sahoor, you can also make a wholesome fruit and oatmeal smoothie (choose your own fruits to add in almond milk or cow milk, smoothie, add oatmeal or chia seeds or peanut butter and blend). Pair it with a couple of Powerballs!!
3. Iftar Intervention! For Iftar, try to make some soup you can freeze. It’s a great way to start your Iftar, head for prayers then eat your full course a little later. Try Thai Lentil Coconut Soup (Vegetarian/Vegan friendly). Or if you are looking for a healthier option, Heart healthy lentil soup.
Eating too heavy may cause drowsiness and take away from your spiritual growth. Have cut up vegetables for quick salad at hand. Don’t let fried foods get in the way of your strength this month. Your liver will thank you for refraining from fried foods. Try to keep fried treats for weekend nights where you can stay up longer to burn and move around. For weekdays, when you have work the next day, keep mindful of your body and health. Alternatively, switch up traditional Sahoor meals for Iftar and vice versa. For example, try having brunch for Iftar with eggs, waffles, french toast, pancakes and hash-browns. Then, for Iftar, try a “lighter” dinner for Sahoor to be energized during the day. Try pasta with my very own Spinach pesto pasta sauce and topped with grilled chicken is a great try!
4. Looking for recipe ideas? For more tips and tricks, visit: Ramadan Special: What does a dietitian eat in Ramadan? Recipes included!!