Many people across the globe fast during the holy month of Ramadan, and fasting has numerous benefits. On a spiritual level, it makes us appreciate and recognize the food we have and empathize with the less fortunate. On a physical level, fasting allows our digestive system to heal and detoxify itself from food toxins such as chemicals, colorings, sweeteners, and additives. If fasting is good for our mind and body, why do we tend to feel low in energy, bloated after eating, gain weight, constipated, have poor concentration, and suffer from headaches? How can we manage our food intake to avoid these symptoms?
The symptoms are typically a result of irregular eating habits. For example, not having your morning coffee or tea may result in having a headache. The bloating and weight gain likely comes from overeating during Iftar. The key is to create an “as-close-to-normal” eating schedule as possible to help manage the symptoms of fasting. Below are tips to help you for the remainder of Ramadan – and for Ramadans to come.
Boost low energy: To maintain your energy level throughout the day, it is important not to skip Suhour and to have it as close to sunrise as possible. Suhoor should be comprised of foods high in protein and complex carbohydrates, and low to moderate amounts of fat. Examples of good foods to consume for Suhour include oats, foul, eggs, laban, cheese, and whole grain breads.
Get rid of bloating, constipation and weight gain: People often consume large meals at Iftar in the hope it will keep them sustained until the following day. Unfortunately, this typically leaves people feeling bloated and sleepy – and eventually leads to weight gain. Before breaking your fast with food, focus on hydrating with water and soup. This will nourish your body with the energy and hydration it needs, while allowing you to better control your portion sizes for the remainder of the meal. Aim to consume eight glasses of water from Iftar to Suhoor. Proper hydration will also alleviate constipation. Continue your meal with a salad or vegetables before your main course. Finally, feel free to enjoy your favorite sweet in moderation!
Banish headaches and the inability to concentrate: Headaches are often caused by dependence on caffeine and/or dehydration. Ideally, one should gradually reduce caffeine intake a couple of weeks prior to Ramadan, but most of us don’t plan ahead. If this is the case for you, it is best to limit caffeinated beverages, such as tea and coffee, between Iftar and Suhoor. Caffeine consumption can promote dependence upon this stimulant during the month, disrupt sleep, and potentially give you a headache the following day. If you struggle with hydration, try Gatorade, a scientifically formulated rehydration therapy beverage and always remember to drink plenty of water when you have broken your fast.
Wishing you and your families a blessed Ramadan. Ramadan Kareem from your friends at Quaker!