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Ramadan (Diet and Health Tips).

Byline: Dr M. A. Wajid

My Dear Readers! Assalam-o-Alaikum, Welcome to Ramadan, the ninth and the holiest month of the Muslim calendar. The Holy Qur'aan was revealed in this month and that Almighty 'Allah' opens the doors of the 'Heaven' and closes the doors of the 'Hell'. 'Devil' is chained in Hell so that it cannot tempt or astray the believers on the Earth.

In order to fast comfortably and to fully enjoy the spiritual benefits of Ramadan, we should try to consume a diet and observe a lifestyle that not only maintains an adequate nutrition but also helps maintaining continued good physical and mental state of well-being. Here are a few tips that might help you do the same.

Main Dietary Tip

* The Ramadan diet should be simple and not much different from your normal diet.

* Consume slow-digesting foods (i.e. complex carbohydrates), including, fibre containing foods. Slow digesting foods last up to 8 hours. Fast-digesting foods (i.e. refined carbohydrates) last for only 3 to 4 hours. These are the foods that contain sugar, white flour, etc.

* Slow-digesting foods contain grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, whole meal flour, unpolished rice, etc.

* Fibre-containing foods are bran-containing, whole wheat, grains and seeds, vegetables like green beans, peas, sem (papry), marrow, mealies, spinach, and other herbs like methie, the leaves of beetroot (iron-rich), fruit with skin, dried fruit especially dried apricots, figs and prunes, almonds, etc.

* The diet should be well balanced, containing foods from each food group, i.e. meat/bean, bread/cereal, milk, vegetable and fruits. Fried foods are unhealthy and should be limited. They cause indigestion, heartburn, and weight problems.

* Following the Sunnah do not overeat at Sehr. Eat slow digesting foods (i.e. complex carbohydrates) along with proteins, fruits or vegetable and plenty of water. Haleem is an excellent source of protein and is a slow-burning food.

* At Iftari follow the Sunnah while breaking your fast with dates and either milk, water, or fruit juice. After the Maghrib prayer, continue with a light starter such as soup and crackers. After a long period of fasting, you need to bring your fluids and blood sugar level up without overdoing it.

* At Dinner after the Maghrib, have a healthy and balanced menu containing foods from each group, i.e. meat/bean, bread/cereal, milk, vegetable and fruits. Do not over-eat and be sure to drink a few more glasses of water.

* Contrary to popular belief, you can eat lots of proteins like chicken, lamb, eggs, and seafood. All meat products will decrease your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

* Eat some fibre. Green, leafy vegetables are best for getting your system moving. Eat all the salad you want.

* Eat sufficient fruits as they prevent acidity.

* Take dates, almonds and bananas. They have most of the essential nutrients for maintaining an optimum health.

* During the evening hours, resist the temptation to take tea, coffee, and soda. When visiting friends or family, ask for glasses of water.

* Serve yourself, your family, and guests a "dessert" of fresh fruit and nuts. They are much more healthy than chocolates and candy.

* Drink as much water or fruit juices as possible between the Iftari and bedtime allowing body to adjust fluid levels as needed.

General Tips

* Do not skip the Sehri meal as it is essential for providing nutrition and energy, necessary for concentration, and keeping hunger symptoms like headaches, fatigue, sleepiness and restlessness at bay.

* During the hottest part of the day, stay in cool areas or indoors and limit your physical activity.

* Light exercise, such as walking for 15-20 minutes, best done in the evening hours.

* Continue to brush and floss your teeth several times a day.

* Wash your hands regularly, and avoid those who cough or sneeze.

* Organise your schedule so that you get enough sleep.

* Read Qur'aan and recite one of the Asma al-Husna, number of times, calmly and slowly.

* Attend the Taraweeh prayers.

* Keep the Iftar dinner parties simple.

* Don't forget to consult your doctor before fasting, especially if:

* You are diabetic or suffer low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia)

* You have colon or other digestive problems such as peptic/gastric ulcers

* You are pregnant or lactating

* You suffer any other chronic health condition

It is hoped that by following the above mentioned diet and health recommendations you shall be able to maintain a good health, sustain an active life and attain the full benefits of Ramadan. With a little thought and effort, this can be attained without much trouble, giving you a healthy body and mind.
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Date:Aug 31, 2012
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