Dr Elisabeth Makk, medical director at Talise Spa And Wellness, explains how to stay happy and healthy during the Holy Month.
Stay hydrated. Drink at least eight glasses of water every day. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables because they are rich in water and fibre. They stay in the intestines for a long time and reduce thirst. Try not to drink large quantities of water all at once or a lot during a meal.
If fasting, don’t skip breakfast. Even though the thought of sleep may be far more appealing than waking up to force down some food, don’t skip breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and during Ramadan, it’s the meal that will sustain you for the next few hours until sundown. Make sure you add enough protein to your diet as protein slows down the absorption of carbohydrates and this will keep your sugar level more balanced during the day.
If fasting, eat foods that are labelled Low GI. Foods that slowly release energy during the long hours of fasting are essential for staying healthy during Ramadan. Foods include grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millets, semolina, beans, lentils, whole meal flour and basmati rice. Fibre-rich foods include bran, cereals, whole wheat, grains and seeds, potatoes with skin, and almost all fruits are digested slowly and really important for nutrition.
Avoid heavily processed and fast-burning foods. It’s also worth avoiding caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee and cola since caffeine is a diuretic and stimulates increased water loss through urination. Dark chocolate is really ’good mood’ food. It is rich in antioxidants and serotonin, which is the hormone of happiness. Dark chocolate is your ‘healthy sweet’.
Eat slowly. It may seem impossible, but aim for a small iftar with the view to a larger main meal later. You will also feel far more energetic and alert in the evening following iftar. If iftar is your main meal, eat very slowly or eat in two parts. Eat a small plate before waiting 10 minutes and continuing with the meal.
Partake in gentle exercise. If you are fasting, consider something like yoga, which will place less stress on your body and also allows you to relax and meditate during your exercise. If you do need to work out or train at the gym, consider exercising after you have broken the fast.