In Ramadan, it’s important to eat healthy, nutritious, balanced meals and look out for our bodies. “Many would agree that Ramadan is about a mental challenge as much as a physical challenge. Ramadan is not just deprivation of food and water but rather it’s also about focus; which specialises in kindness, spirituality, and giving to those that are less fortunate. Ramadan may be a great time to begin mindful eating. Fasting is a superb opportunity to strengthen our gastrointestinal system and help adjust our blood glucose and triglyceride levels. After 15 hours of fasting — no water, no food — your mind begins to mess with you. The primary step is to pay attention to where in your body you’re feeling hunger. The most effective way to break your fast is by drinking water with some salt and a pinch of natural sugar mixed in to balance your body’s salt and glucose levels. Two cups of water followed by three small dates and a cup of broth or a green smoothie is a perfect start. Divide your main meal into three parts - half your plate should be greens and veggies, one-quarter of the plate should be lean protein sources and the final quarter should be complex carbs like whole grains as they supply a sustainable source of energy,” shares entrepreneur Thasneem Masood.
Thasneem tells us that during Ramadan it is important to stay healthy and hydrated. “I select fluids that are neither sugary and avoid caffeine. I choose lemon, ginger, cinnamon, or turmeric water, or green tea. Make sure that you don’t drink all of your water in one go, as this may cause an imbalance in your body’s electrolytes. Also, I avoid fried foods during this period. I treat myself to a dessert once or twice every week. If you want to eat dessert daily, two tbsp per day are meant to satisfy you once you practice mindful eating. I prefer to eat fruits to satisfy my sweet tooth,” she explains.
For Thasneem, suhoor (the meal consumed early in the morning before fasting) is analogous to breakfast. “I include fat-free dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese, or eggs, or whole grains like oats or toast, and also sometimes peanut butter or almond butter along with fruits like watermelon or musk melon that helps me stay hydrated during the rest of the day.” She suggests not eat salty or sugary food at suhoor, because this may cause extra thirst and hunger throughout the day.
Afshan Nasser, who runs a cloud kitchen called The Crackling Pan, says that haleem is one of the best dishes to break the fast. “Though it is a Hyderabad specialty, many people in Chennai are making Haleem to break the fast along with dates. It is a stew made with meat, lentils and pounded wheat made into a thick paste. You can also have juices and salads. People used to make fried dishes. But now, some refrain from eating it. One should be conscious about what they are eating during fasting — avoid binge eating,” says Afshan. The home chef also suggests avoiding spicy food.