Nutrition Tips For A Healthy Ramadan

While our Muslim brothers and sisters observe fasting during Ramadan, Malaysians of all religions and races are getting ready to join their friends for both pre-fast (Sahur) and buka puasa(Iftar) meals – not forgetting a leisurely stroll through the nearest Ramadan Bazaar to buy freshly-prepared satay, lemang, kuih, and many other tasty delights. Adjusting to the new hours of daily food intake will require informed dietary habits, so read on for some pointers on getting the proper nutrition.

Developing Healthy Eating Habits

According to the British Nutrition Foundation, your body replenishes energy during the daily hours of fasting by utilizing carbohydrates that are stored in the liver and muscles, followed by the fats obtained from the foods consumed the night before and during Sahur. Developing healthy eating habits will ensure your body utilizes quality nutrients to keep you in the pink of health during Ramadan.

Even more important is your body’s level of hydration. It is quite common to experience tiredness, slight dehydration, and a drop in concentration levels due to lack of water – which highlights the importance of consuming lots of fluids to replace those lost during the day. When it’s time to bukapuasa, concentrate on fluid replenishment first and emulate the habit of eating slowly, in order to ease your body into the upcoming Iftar meal.

Foods To Consume

Healthy Fluids – The optimal fluid is of course water, as it quenches your thirst and hydrates the body without any additional calories. Fruit juices are also ideal as they are high in natural sugars and vitamins. For a quick and convenient option, drop by our grocer and grab a fresh juice to go from Juicebox!

Healthy Fibres – You’ll want to consume foods that are fibre-rich to reload your body’s energy reserves while aiding digestion. Dates and other dried fruits such as apricots, prunes, or figs are best eaten before your main buka puasa meal, as they provide natural sugars and an abundance of nutrients that are easily digestible by your body.

Other examples of healthy fibres are found in beans, pasta, fruits, green vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and pecans. Fill your grocery basketwith vibrant fruits such as apples, bananas, mangoes, and oranges for a nourishing dose of energy and natural fluids. 

High Protein Foods – Protein is essential to keep your strength up as it releases energy slowly throughout the day, a great advantage when fasting for long hours. Plan your meals and Ramadan Bazaar food trips around foods that contain eggs, yoghurt, plant-based protein and lean meat.

Healthy Fats – Eating foods that contain fat is vital to build body tissue and regulate the immune system, particularly as fasting renders you more susceptible to illness. Natural options are avocados, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, nut & seed butters, chia seeds, and free range lean meats. Not only will they keep your body burning fat for energy, but they also reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood!

Foods To Avoid

An article by Health24 advocates eating thoughtfully during the relatively short time you have between Iftar and Sahur, in order to maintain optimal health for the fasting season.

Deep fried & fatty foods – avoid foods such as fried chicken, fried curry puffs or samosa, pastry-based foods, and greasy curries.

High sugar foods and drinks – avoid sugary & carbonated drinks, candy bars, chocolates, and traditional sweets such as baklava, badam halwa, or barfi.

Caffeinated drinks – drinks with high caffeine content provide little hydration and lead to states of restlessness and insomnia.

Salty food and drinks –  a high level of salt stimulates thirst as the sodium levels in the body are out of balance, therefore avoid consuming salted nuts and snacks. 

Stay Physically Active

Emulate the habit of light exercise throughout the day, particularly right before Sahur which will do wonders to build concentration and stamina for the day ahead. Simple activities such as climbing stairs and walking around the neighbourhood are also recommended after dinner. As indicated by the World Food Programme, it’s best to refrain from working out during fasting hours to avoid over-exerting the body. If you do choose to hit the gym however, allow 2-3 hours after food is consumed to ensure proper digestion and stay hydrated throughout the your session.

We hope these tips will help you keep your spirits up during this fasting season. Drop by our grocer for all the ingredients you need to cook a healthy meal for the family. For those short of time, check out our pre-marinated meats from the ready-to-cook range at Barn Butchery, and you’re always welcome you to buka puasa with us over a hot meal at The Grocer’s Kitchen – click here to see our Ramadan Set Menu!  

Wishing all our Muslim friends Ramadan Kareem! Be sure to join us at Ben’s Independent Grocerfor our Raya ‘Ramadan Dihayati Syawal Dirai’ Fair (15 May – 24 June). Check out what’s happening in our stores during the Ramadan season here:

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