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Friday, July 29, 2011

Maintain Weight During Ramadan

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The month of Ramadan is a great opportunity to focus on bringing back a balanced and healthy lifestyle in your life. Through fasting you begin to learn how to manage your eating habits, how to improve self-control and discipline. This month requires you to give the stomach a break, and by doing so you are able to break down and expel the accumulated toxins from your body.

Balanced food and fluid intake is important between fasts. The kidney is very efficient at maintaining the body's water and salts, such as sodium and potassium. However, these can be lost through sweating. To prevent muscle breakdown, meals must contain adequate levels of 'energy food', such as carbohydrates and some fat. Hence, a balanced diet with adequate quantities of nutrients, salts and water is vital.

People gain weight when their energy intake exceeds their energy output. In other words, this happens when a person consumes calories (eating) more than he/she burns (in physical activity). Watching our weights is necessary for a healthy life. You can easily use the occasion of Ramadan to lose some weight. You don't have to stop eating or avoid going to Iftars. You just have to follow a few guidelines:

  • To remain healthy during Ramadan, normal quantities of food from the major food groups: bread and cereal, milk and dairy product, fish, meat and poultry, bean, vegetable and fruit should be consumed. (Vegetarians and Vegans should amend this list as appropriate). Intake of fruits after a meal is strongly suggested. In actual fact, our diet in Ramadan should not differ very much from our normal diet and should be as simple as possible.

  • Avoid eating too many carbohydrates. Most Iftar dinners are composed of a ton of carbohydrates. Pasta, rice, bread, sweets and sugars are the most common culprits. Try to avoid these. No, your host will not be offended. Instead of eating a ton of rice with the red sauce, try to cut the rice out totally and just have the sauce.

  • Suhoor or Sehri, the pre-dawn meal, should be a wholesome, moderate meal that is filling and provides enough energy for many hours. It is therefore particularly important to include slowly-digesting foods in the suhoor. Complex carbohydrates are foods that will help release energy slowly during the long hours of fasting. Complex carbohydrates are found in grains and seeds, like barley, wheat, oats, millets, semolina, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour, basmati rice, etc. Eat whole wheat or oat cereal or whole wheat bread, 1-2 serving with a cup of milk. Add 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil in a salad or the cereal. Eat 1-2 servings of fruits, as a last item.

  • Iftar is the meal which breaks the day's fast. This meal could include dates, following the Prophetic traditions. Dates will provide a refreshing burst of much-needed energy. Fruit juices will also have a similar, revitalising effect. The meal should remain a meal and not become a feast! Try to minimise the rich, special dishes that traditionally celebrate the fast.

  • Eat fiber-rich foods. Fibre-rich foods are also digested slowly and include bran, cereals, whole wheat, grains and seeds, potatoes with the skin, vegetables such as green beans and almost all fruit, including apricots, prunes, figs, etc.

  • Consuming enough protein during each of your Ramadan meals will keep you feeling full until the next meal, preventing you from eating too many sweets. Good sources of protein include fish, skinless chicken, lean meat cuts, and legumes (chickpeas and beans), nuts and seeds.

  • Drinking of sufficient water and juices between Iftar and sleep to avoid dehydration and for detoxification of the digestive system should be encouraged in fasting individuals.

  • Fried foods, very spicy foods and foods containing too much sugar such as sweets, the delight of many, can cause health problems and should be limited during Ramadan. They cause indigestion, heart-burn, and weight problems. Fasting can often increase gastric acidity levels in the stomach causing a burning feeling, a heaviness in the stomach and a sour mouth. This can be overcome by eating foods rich in fiber such as whole wheat bread, vegetables, humus, beans and fruits. These foods trigger muscular action, churning and mixing of food, breaking it into small particles, and thus help reduce the build up of acid in the stomach.

  • In addition to these eating habits, people should do some physical activity of any kind depending on their health status and preferences. Walking for thirty minutes after iftar, for example, is recommended. Another important point is getting adequate sleep and not exceeding the needed hours.

In addition, diabetics taking insulin should consult their doctor to see if their dose can be adjusted for them to fast during Ramadan. In all cases of Muslim diabetics fasting, they should closely monitor their blood sugar levels especially before and after meals.

source: www.lifemojo.com/lifestyle/maintain-weight-during-ramadan-3081378

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