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Tips for eating well and staying healthy while fasting

Ramadan will soon be upon us, and Muslims around the world will be fasting from sunrise to sunset while reflecting, spending time with family, and celebrating the holy month. It’s important to take care of yourself and stay healthy during Ramadan, and for people who are particularly fitness conscious, we have some tips for you.

1. Eat healthy

The window of time in which you can provide your body with all the nutrients it needs is limited, so you should focus on eating high quality foods. Iftar should be a time to drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet of starches, vegetables, proteins, and dairy products for good fats.

Adding these nutrients to your meals helps you stay hydrated and full longer, and may even help boost your immune system, which is crucial during this pandemic. Focus on eating low glycemic foods during Suhur (the pre-dawn meal), such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, including oats, rye, barley, rice brown, quinoa, berries, apples and oranges.

You’ll feel full longer eating these foods and you’ll be less likely to spike your blood sugar. It can also help control your appetite, and you’ll keep going through the day without feeling tired.

2. Things to avoid

Some of the things you need to avoid are salt, caffeine, sugars, and processed foods. When preparing meals for Suhur, it is important to avoid too much salt, as this will dehydrate you and make you thirsty throughout the day. You should also avoid caffeinated beverages, as they have a diuretic effect, increasing urine production, which could also lead to dehydration.

Foods and drinks that contain added sugars and carbohydrates have a relatively low nutrient density, don’t keep you full for as long, and are also linked to an increased risk of disease. Overeating these types of foods can damage the heart and kidneys, slow the immune system, and lead to weight gain.

Instead of fried foods, like samosas, you can substitute them with healthier alternatives like dates and fruit. Similarly, you can replace sugary foods like donuts, ice cream and cakes with fruit salads and yogurts.

Try cooking with a large base of tomatoes and onions, as a large base of tomatoes can help maintain healthy blood pressure and lower blood sugar, and onions are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

3. Exercise

Although you may find it difficult to be physically active, it has significant health benefits. It is important to continue exercising regularly throughout Ramadan.

Please keep in mind that your energy level and patience during the fasting day will not be the same, so avoid weight lifting or high intensity exercise during this time – but you can do these after Iftar for the rest of the evening.

If you want to do light exercise while fasting, try walking, jogging, pilates, yoga, or stretching. Take a walk in the park or garden, cycle or jog. Walking is the easiest form of exercise to incorporate into your day. If you wish, you can gradually increase the intensity of the exercise you do, depending on how you feel each day.

Fasting should not be an excuse to be lazy. Instead, take it as a chance to focus on yourself and your body by doing some activities, and keep your mind! You should also check out our 8 handpicked tips for making a realistic Ramadan plan.

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