No Ramadan Diet Plan Is The Best Plan!
RAMADAN is a plan by Allah for us to cleanse our body and soul. Despite that, everyday different people ask me to provide them with a Ramadan Diet Plan.
If we follow the teachings of Islam correctly, we don't need any diet plan whatsoever.
Chapter 20, verse 81 of the Qur'an states:
"Eat of the good and wholesome things that We have provided for your sustenance but indulge in no excess therein." [Quran; 20:81]
And that is why there is no diet plan. Eat good and wholesome foods in moderation; that's the key.
Nevertheless, I would like to give a few pointers, which surely many of you already know, just as a reminder.
We should aim to keep food intake in Ramadan simple, and not very different from our normal day to day diet. This means eating in small portions but to include all major food groups, like fruit and vegetables, breads, cereals and potatoes, meat, lentils and pulses, dairy foods and healthy fats.
Fasting hours across the world can vary and can be anywhere between 11-22 hours.
Therefore, we need to focus on foods which can help us feel fuller for longer and give us energy. The key to feel full and energetic is to include more fibre at Suhoor (pre-dawn meal) and Iftar (fast-breaking meal). The slow release of fibre in our body, keeps us full and energetic.
We can increase fibre by opting for brown bread, whole grain flour, whole grain cereal, potatoes with skin, brown rice, and brown pasta. Focusing more on fruit and vegetables and trying to have them with their skins can optimise fibre intake.
We can try to avoid or limit fast burning foods in the form of sugar and white flour/white bread/white rice.
To avoid indigestion in Ramadan, aim to limit fatty foods, such as pakoras, samosas, bhajias, chips, cakes, biscuits chocolates and sweets. Don't stop having them, rather think of ways to prepare them in a healthier way by using less oil and baking, steaming and grilling food rather than frying it. Also, if you regulate your portion size, include fibre in your diet which will aid in avoiding indigestion.
Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. We always focus on water intake which becomes quite difficult to consume in such a short period of time. Along with water we can have stews and soups, or fluid rich fruit and vegetables to increase water intake.
Reduce salt intake as much as possible, as high intake may make you feel thirsty. Consciously make an effort of putting half the amount of salt than you usually do. Tea and coffee can stimulate water loss, therefore try to limit the amounts or go for decaffeinated versions.
We all know that we should be limiting the amount of sugar in our diet, because sugars are empty calories and will only contribute to weight gain. If you really feel like having something sweet, try to make healthier choices.
If you feel the urge to have cake, rather than having a chocolate cake go for a plain one. If you want to have a biscuit, instead of having a custard cream biscuit go for a plain one. Try going for milk-based sweet dishes such as kheer or vermicelli.
If you feel you really must have that chocolate cake, or that gulab jamun, go for it but just think of the portion size.
This Ramadan think less about feasting and more about nourishing your body, after all it is the month to cleanse our body and soul.
For a nutritionally complete diet in Ramadan we must aim to include all major food groups in the correct portion.
Guidelines To Help You Plan Your Ramadan Meals Accordingly
Choose one from each row.
2 slices of brown bread OR wholemeal chapati/roti (40-80 g) OR Bowl of cereal
2 Kebab OR 2 Chicken Pieces OR 2 eggs OR 5 tablespoons lentil and pulses (can have 2 from this row)
Glass of milk OR 5 tablespoon yogurt OR matchbox-size cheese
Fruit palm-size OR vegetables of your choice
Ideally break your fast with a glass of milk with dates. After Maghrib prayer focus on the remaining food groups.
Choose one from each row.
Wholemeal Roti/ Chapati (40-80 g), Rice (80-160gm), Pasta (80-160g), Potatoes (2 -4 egg sized)
Chicken/lamb/beef/ fish palm size (60-90 g), 5 tablespoon lentils and pulses OR 2 eggs (can have 2 from this row)
Half a plate of vegetables can be cooked, raw, boiled or steamed.
Milk (200ml) Yogurt (125ml), Cheese (matchbox size)
If the above is not enough, you can add fruit.
Fareeha Jay is a Registered Dietitian with a degree in dietetics from Plymouth University, UK. She works for Sentinel Health & Wellbeing (NHS) as a Diabetes Educator. Her passion is to bring awareness about balanced diet, healthy eating and quality living and manages a Facebook group with nearly 150,000 members with the aim of spreading awareness on healthy eating and helping people out with their diets. She also supports health-based charity organisations by giving online lectures.