BEIRUT: The Holy month of Ramadan is here — a month filled with blessings, giving and fasting. In Ramadan, particularly, it is important to bear in mind that we need to eat healthy, nutritious, balanced meals and take care of our bodies. Fasting is an excellent opportunity to strengthen our digestive system and help adjust our blood sugar and triglyceride levels.
It is important that you do not use Iftar — when you will likely be feeling especially hungry — as an opportunity to overindulge. There may be a variety of foods available — including fried food and sweets — but these will make you bloated, sluggish and uncomfortable. For people who are prone to inflammatory diseases, they will also worsen that condition.
The best way to break your fast is by drinking water with some salt and a bit of natural sugar mixed in to balance your body’s salt and glucose levels. Two cups of water followed by three small dates and a cup of broth is an ideal start.
For your main meal, imagine your plate divided into three parts: Half of your plate should be filled with salad. Fattoush is a great choice because it contains a rainbow of colors of different vegetables. However, any other salad with a variety of vegetables will do.
One quarter of your plate should be made up of proteins. Meat and fish are good choices, but lentils, beans and chickpeas are also good protein sources.
The final quarter of your plate should be made up of carbohydrates. Wholewheat rice, parboiled wheat (burghol), couscous, moghrabieh, quinoa and wholewheat pasta are great selections.
Randa’s tricks and tips:
1. Stay hydrated. Choose fluids that are neither sugary nor contain lots of caffeine. Now is the time to drink lemon, ginger, cinnamon or turmeric water. Do not drink all your water at once, as that might cause an imbalance in your body’s electrolytes.
2. Avoid fried foods. The same food could taste just as delicious when cooked with just a little oil.
3. Try to make dessert a treat once or twice a week. If you really must eat dessert daily, a portion of two tablespoons per day is supposed to be satisfactory when you practice mindful eating.
Suhoor is supposed to be similar to breakfast. It can include dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, or eggs, or whole grains such as oats or toast. It can also contain nut butter — e.g. peanut or almond.
Randa’s tricks and tips:
1. Find a schedule that works for you. If you don’t like to wake up to eat, then eat before Suhoor, as long as you keep your energy up.
2. Be sure to include some fruit in this meal.
3. Try not to eat salty or sugary food at Suhoor, because this will cause extra thirst and hunger throughout the day.
A final word about exercise: Keep on doing the activities you do during the rest of the year. Now is not the time to push harder, but there is no reason to stop your usual exercise routine.