Ramadan is approaching and it is undeniably one of the most intense times of the year. The warmth of social and family gatherings as well as the enthusiastic atmosphere around us affects our health patterns extensively. From lack of sleep to the sugar overload, we have attributed numerous negative health habits to this holy month. For example, there have been many new trendy versions of endless innovations of ‘Konafa’, during the last few years. They didn’t fail to make an appearance on most dining tables on Iftar, regardless of the fact that many of them consisted of totally unharmonious ingredients. We tend to forget the aftermath: the bloating, weight gain and fatigue.
Let’s aim to adopt a healthier approach to eating this Ramadan. The Kangaroo Mamas is interviewing The Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Vally Hamza for the second time to give us advice about healthy eating in ramadan.
1- How can we plan our meals to avoid overeating ?
Fasting gives our digestive system some rest. Also, the levels of blood sugar and cholesterol decrease during fasting which is a great chance to get our bodies in shape.
The best thing to do while breaking your fast is to gradually introduce foods instead of shocking your digestive system with big amounts of food. It’s better to eat small meals at different times rather and then one big meal.
You can start with dates and water, take a break (pray) then eat a soup or salad then take a break (socialize) and then eat a complete healthy meal, then rest and then exercise if you can.
And of course don’t forget Sohour.
2- You usually target teenagers in your workshops, how would you advise them to eat on Iftar?
Teenagers need to get sufficient nutrients and the proper amount of calories to support their bodies each day. It’s important that they get 3 meals (iftar, snack and sohour)
The meals should contain the right amount of
– Protein: beef, chicken, eggs, nuts and nut butters, cheese, seeds, green vegetables, legumes and lentils, grains like quinoa.
– Carbohydrates: oats, spinach, sweet potatoes, broccoli, beans, zucchini and whole grains (brown and wild rice).
– Good fats: avocados, salmon, oils like coconut, olive, and flaxseed and nuts like walnuts.
– Fiber: Fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts.
It’s important to avoid greasy, fried, salty and sugary foods cause these foods will make you feel good only for a short period then will leave you out of energy after. The most important this is “Drink a lot of water”
3- For athletic teenagers, what foods should they eat during Suhoor to fuel their bodies with energy?
They should never skip Sohour. The body needs it to maintain a good energy level till Iftar. Skipping Sohour makes you feel dehydrated and tired during the day. Consequently, you may end up overeating during Iftar.
For teens who workout:
1- Heavy workout is not recommended before Iftar. The weather is too hot now which can cause dehydration.
2- Drink a lot of fluids after iftar: water, healthy smoothies, juices or infused water.
3- Eat enough proteins during iftar and sohour
4- Even the people who don’t have a sweet tooth tend to crave sugar after breaking their fast. How can we fulfill those cravings without overloading our bodies with sugar ?
As I always say, “there’s always a healthier option” which means that you can make your own healthy desserts like chocolate date balls, dark chocolate, dates, dried fruits also fruits and healthy smoothies and juices, or homemade ice cream. Also I would like to say that it’s ok to have a piece of basbousa or konafa once in a while but not everyday.
Vally teaching her students how to make healthy date balls
5- It is not easy to resist food temptations mainly in invitations and social gatherings, how can we make the healthiest choices in such cases?
1- Always go for the healthiest option like salads, soups, protein, vegetables and fruits.
2- It’s ok to have a dessert once a week on the weekend.
3- You can also bring a healthy dessert or salad if it’s a dish party or surprise your friends with a healthy dessert made by your own. I am sure they will love that you have made it for them.
6- The thirst can be more unbearable than the hunger, which foods keep the body hydrated? Foods that contain high water levels: zucchini, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, watermelons, lettuce and spinach.
It’s crucial to drink a lot of water. Keep your bottle of water with you, you can always add ice or pieces of fruits to the water (infused water) if you want. If you forget to drink water you can use an app on your phone to remind you. Homemade smoothies and juices can help hydrate the body.
Last but not least always remember that Ramadan is great opportunity to change and it helps us to train ourselves with the hope that these qualities will extend beyond this month and stay throughout the year. Enjoy Ramadan with your friends and family.
For more info Vally Hamza will be starting a Ramadan program with another great health coach Yasmine Defouni, Founder of Healthytude to show people how to eat healthy during Ramadan, and what are the best ways to break the fast, and much more.