What is a Healthy Diet in Ramadan?

As Ramadan is under way, dieticians have shared their “practical tips” for a healthy diet during the holy month.

“The fasting month brings a great opportunity to cleanse our systems of metabolic waste and to become healthier only if done in a proper manner,” Amani Omar, a Jordanian nutritionist told The Jordan Times over the phone on Thursday.

Fasting energises the metabolism, helps lose weight, stimulates new cell growth, improves hormonal balance, increases mental clarity, gives more energy, improves heart health and reduces risks of chronic diseases, in addition to being useful for establishing a proper eating pattern, according to Omar.

“Many people ask why they put on weight during Ramadan,” according to Omar, who pointed out that   overeating when breaking the fast, consuming high amounts of sugar and sweets, eating greasy and fried foods are among the common causes of weight gain.

“It is so important to be mindful of what you eat,” she said.

Regarding Suhoor (pre-dawn meal), Omar said that it is necessary not to skip it and it should consist of nutrient-packed, fluid rich and low-fat foods that help in staying  energetic and hydrated throughout the day.  It also helps in delaying hunger pangs and preventing uncomfortable constipation, she said.

“People could eat boiled eggs, watermelon and Halloumi cheese, Greek yoghurt, dairy products, smoothies, fruits and vegetables for Suhoor,” Omar said.

A lot of people repeat the same mistake each Ramadan and that is to break the fast with foods that are heavy and high in fat, Shaima Taha, a Jordanian dietician told The Jordan Times.

To break the fast, people should start by eating foods that are gentle on the stomach, in order not to overwhelm the digestive system.

Taha advised to break the fast with a date which is a quick source of sugar that gives a natural energy boost and fuels up the body with nutrients and fibre that makes a person feel full and prevents overeating. After that people could eat soup, salad and a little bit from the appetizers if there is any, she said.

Taha said that hydration is key to weight loss, as drinking enough fluids will help keep the body hydrated during the fast.

“In order to gain health benefits, it is very important to have self-control with food, especially during Ramadan when appetising dishes are all around us,” Taha said.

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