In the month of Ramadan and sometimes eating healthy can be a challenge during this period. Saying that however, fasting in the month of Ramadan is also a great opportunity to make significant lifestyle changes by creating healthy eating choices. So click through to my channel watch my ‘Ramadan Healthy Meal Guide’ and let’s make this Ramadan season the start to a healthier you.
To the Muslims, it also teaches you to manage and practice spirituality, which include not eating excessively. I’m not a Muslim, however I’ve practice fasting several days before and it can be challenging especially if one has to fast for more than 17 hours a day.
What I’ll be sharing with you today is a Ramadan Healthy Meal Guide: good foods to nourish your body, portion sizes and also foods to avoid, which may defeat the purpose of fasting.
During the fasting month, your metabolism will slow down due to the long hours without food and drinks. To keep a balance, your diet should have less than the normal amount of food, yet enough to keep you healthy and active. In general, your diet should be simple and does not differ too much from your normal everyday diet.
For those of you who are planning on losing some weight, this month is the perfect time to start by making healthier food choices and to learn portion control.
Let’s start with Iftar, the food eaten immediately after sunset to break fast. During this time, you need to replenish your body with fluid and also a quick burst of energy.
So choose 1 or 2 from these 3 types of food:
1) Fruits or dried fruits such as Dates, prunes, raisins etc – Fruits contain high amount of natural sugar for a quick energy boost. (serving size – 1 small handful or 1 piece of fruit)
2) 100% natural Fruit juice or smoothie without any added sugar. You may choose to sweeten it with natural sweeteners like honey. – this contain both natural sugar and fluid to hydrate the body. (serving size – 1 cup)
3) Milk – which contain natural sugar as well and water to replenish the body (serving size – 1 cup)
This meal should be small snack just enough to bring low blood sugar levels to normal levels. Then I believe that the Muslims will conduct your maghrib prayer before having Dinner.
For dinner, this meal shouldn’t differ much for your regular dinner. Have a balanced meal consisting of:
1) Complex Carbs
5) Healthy Fat
So let’s start with Complex Carbs.
FUNCTION: Complex carbs are food that will help release energy slowly, hence providing your body with energy throughout the day.
HEALTHY EXAMPLES: Basmati Rice, chapatti, barley, oats, whole grain bread, lentils, cous cous, potatoes and more.
SERVING SIZE: For female, aim to have 2 servings of complex carbs and for male, you can go for 3 or 4 servings depending on your size.
This one small bowl of rice is 2 servings. Please do watch my “How Much Should I Eat to Lose Weight” video to understand servings sizes in more detail”.
FUNCTION: Because protein takes much longer for the body to breakdown, it will keep you satisfied for much longer, which can also help to keep cravings under control. If you intend to do a short workout session before dinner, then having protein in your meal will help with muscle recovery.
HEALHTY EXAMPLES: Baked or grilled Chicken such as tandoori, lamb, beef, eggs, chickpeas, any types of beans, fish, seafood, tofu, tempeh and more.
SERVING SIZE: For female, you can have 2-3 servings of protein and for male, again add 1 or 2 extra servings.
FUNCTION: Vegetables are extremely low in calories, high in fibre, hence they will fill you up and it is hard to overeat them. If you want to watch your weight during the fasting month, then pack your plate with lots of veggies.
HEALTHY EXAMPLES: This can include green leafy vegetables, onions, olives, cucumber, carrots, cauliflower and more.
SERVING SIZE: Aim for at least 2-3 servings on your dinner plate. You can have more if you want to.
FUNCTION: Nowadays, there are a lot of controversial in regards to the pros and cons of dairy products and some of you might not consume dairy as part of your diet or perhaps you might be lactose-intolerance.
Whatever your stand is on dairy products, consume them in moderation. So if you want to add this as part of your meal, go for 1 serving.
HEALTHY EXAMPLES: 1 glass of milk or buttermilk, 1 small pot of yoghurt or cottage cheese or 1 slice of cheese.
This can be consumed separately or it may be added as part of your cooking.
Examples of healthy fat include: 1 tsp or 1 tbsp of Olive oil, small handful of nuts or seeds, fish such as salmon which is high in omega 3 fatty acid, and half an avocado.Healthy fat are usually added as part of your cooking, so for instance lightly stir fry your dish with small amount of olive oil instead of using butter or ghee. Make hummus, sprinkle your salad with small amount of olive oil, seeds or nuts. Healthy fat is good for you but they are very high in calories, so consume in very small amount.
Now that you know what should be on your dinner plate, your preparation method is key to either make a meal healthy or unhealthy. So choose to cook your meal by grilling, boiling, steaming or baking rather than deep-frying, which will destroy most of the nutrients.
Here’s an example of what dinner can be:
- Complex Carbs: 1 small bowl of Rice
- Protein: 3 oz of Chicken Breast steamed with herbs and spices
- Vegetable, Dairy & Healthy Fat: 3 servings of mild Vegetable curry, in which I’ve used 1 tsp of olive oil and 1 cup of yoghurt
Remember that your dinner should remain a meal, not a feast.
At least 30 Mins after Dinner or before sleeping
After dinner, allow time for your body to digest and register the feeling of fullness. It takes 20 minutes for your body and mind to know that you are full. So don’t rush your dinner and finish the entire meal in 15 minutes, instead pace yourself and appreciate the food you have been blest with.
So 30 minutes after dinner or before sleeping, consuming 1 to 2 servings of fruits to facilitate digestion and prevent any indigestion issues. You may choose to have fruit on it’s own, or make a yoghurt parfait with fruits, nuts or seeds.
If you feel slightly hungry late at night, choose small healthy snacks, which will keep hunger at bay without feeling too overly full. Please watch my “10 Healthy Late Night Snacks” or “Under 100-Calorie Snacks Ideas” for recipes.
As for Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal, aim to consume a wholesome, moderate meal high in complex carbs, protein and fibre, which are filling and will provide you enough energy for many hours.
Here are 10 of my slow digesting recipes which are light but will help to keep you energize and healthy:
1) Peanut butter toast with banana slices
2) Egg on toasts
3) Egg muffins
4) Fruit Smoothies
5) Green Smoothies
6) Yoghurt Parfait
7) Chicken Soba Soup Noodles
8) Chunky Veggie Barley Soup
9) Peanut Butter Oatmeal
10) Overnight oats
These are all very quick recipes which can be prep under 15 minutes or less and they can even be made the day before. All these recipes are available under my Ramadan playlist, which you can click here.
The serving size should be approximately half of your dinner size. So for instance you can choose one solid meal from the list and one liquid meal. For example you can have peanut butter toast topped with sliced bananas and a green or fruit smoothie. This combination will give you enough energy for many hours.
Avoid overeating or consuming heavy meals for Suhoor, as it can make you feel sluggish and lethargic right from the start of the day. And we do not want that.
FOODS TO AVOID
Just like your regular healthy daily meals, the food you want to avoid include:
1) Fast food and heavily processed food such as burger, chips, deep-fried samosas, fried chicken etc
2) Food high in refined carbs, such as white bread or white flour, which may leave you feeling hungry again every quickly
3) Too much fatty and high sugar food, such as oily curries, anything deep dried, cakes, biscuits, pastries, chocolate, traditional sweets and more.
4) You might want to avoid spicy food as it may cause indigestion, bloating and discomfort to the stomach.
5) And avoid or reduce on your caffeine intake, such as coffee, tea or coke, as they contain diuretic properties, which may stimulate faster water loss through urination. If you are one person who drinks caffeine on a regular basis, a sudden decrease in caffeine can cause headaches, irritability and mood swings. So reduce your caffeine gradually 3 to 5 days before Ramadan.
Yes, there will be many occasions when you crave for your favourite naughty food or days where you are invited to feast with your friends and family. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself as long as you practice mindful eating.
Fasting in the month of Ramadan is a great opportunity to make significant changes in your lifestyle such as learning self-control, understanding your relationship with food, listening to your body when you eat, and most importantly to appreciate the food you’ve been blest with.
To conclude, aim to drink lots of water between Iftar and Suhoor to avoid dehydration, eat real food; food in its purest form, eat food that hydrates your body, eat lots of vegetables and fruits and remember that your meals during the Ramadan month shouldn’t differ much from your regular healthy meals.
And Ramadan should not be an excuse for you to stop exercising. In fact, you should continue your regular exercises and keep them between 30 – 45 minutes with slightly lower intensity. The best time to workout is after the evening prayer before dinner or before suhoor.
Let the month of Ramadan be the start to a healthier you by creating positive eating habits, with a heightened level of consciousness and spirituality.