Having a balanced iftar is so important, as it’s the meal that replenishes energy stores and helps sustains your fast for the following day. While iftars are an enjoyable experience, they can be a struggle for people trying to maintain good eating habits during this holy month.
Consuming the right foods and nutrients that your body needs can be difficult and many people slip into bad eating habits during this time. Instead, it’s possible to use this month to cultivate good eating habits that can continue long after Ramadan. Here’s a few healthy, tips to help you stay on track with your goals this Ramadan.
Hydrate before eating
Drink plenty of fluids such as water, freshly squeezed juice, or milk. This will prevent dehydration and provide your body with the essential fluids it needs. Water remains your best source of hydration. Drink 1 – 2 glass of water before your meal and not during your meal to avoid delaying your digestion process. Be wary of Ramadan drinks because they contain a lot sugar and calories.
Break your fast with dates
Traditionally, dates are eaten at the start of your iftar meal. Because they are a nutritious burst of natural sugar they fuel your body with much needed energy. If you suffer from headaches during the fasting hours, most likely caused by low blood sugar, begin your iftar with 2 dates or an Essentially nut milk – infused with dates and replenish your sugar levels naturally.
Have a bowl of soup
Soups are an indispensable dish in iftar. They’re rich in water and help you hydrate. Reach out for lentil, tomato, or vegetable soup and avoid cream-based soup. If you don’t enjoy a warm soup during the summer months, cold soups and Gazpachos make a great alternative.
Eat your greens
Vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber and provide so many nutrients in so little calories. The more colorful your salad or juice, the more health benefits it holds. It also provides a feeling of fullness, ensuring you eat less on your main dish. Aim for 2 servings of vegetables per meal. One serving equals a 1/2 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice or 1 cup of leafy raw vegetables. Our Essential Green and Easy Green are packed with up to 1kg of veggies, so they’re a great and easy way to fill up on your greens.
Choose good carbs
Your iftar meal should contain a source of carbohydrates, preferably complex. These include brown rice, whole grain pasta or bread, potatoes or burghul. Complex carbs provide a more stable and sustainable source of energy in addition to fiber and minerals.
Incorporate lean protein
At iftar, you should aim to eat high quality protein that are highly digestible and contain all the essential amino acids. Your body uses these to build and maintain muscle mass. Beef, milk, yogurt, eggs, cheese, fish and poultry are all complete high-quality proteins. Choose lean proteins to get the benefits with little saturated fats. Include fish, skinless chicken or turkey and low fat dairy to have as part of your iftar meal. If you’re vegetarian, you can select other protein sources such as legumes, beans and nuts.
Don’t be in a hurry to finish your food. After being deprived of eating for an entire day, overloading on food may lead to indigestion and other gastric problems. Have a light iftar that includes reasonable food portions. Controlling the size of your portion is key to staying healthy and preventing weight gain. As a rule of thumb, don’t exceed amounts you would have for a typical lunch or dinner meal.
Avoid foods high in fat, salt and sugar
Whenever possible, stay away from heavy meals for iftar that have too much unhealthy fats, salt and added sugar. When cooking, avoid frying to make your favourite Ramadan recipes healthier. Try stewing, baking, roasting, steaming or grilling. Add herbs and spices instead of salt to flavour your meals. Finally, replace sweets and sweetened drinks with naturally occurring sugar in fruits, dried fruits, fruit salads or a fresh juice.