Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar during which Muslims fast by abstaining from all food and drink from dawn to sunset. During this month, those who are on fasting eat two meals: pre-dawn meal (Suhoor) and a meal at dusk (Iftar). As there is long gap of around 10-12 hours between the Suhoor and Iftar careful planning of meals is required to remain healthy, fit and enjoy the nutrient rich food during these days.
Diet Mantra share some diet tips for healthy eating during Ramadan days.
- Treat yourself with complex carbohydrates, high fibre foods: Including foods such as barley, wheat, bran, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour and basmati rice in the diet help release energy slowly during the long hours of fasting and thus keeping one satiated through the fasting time.
- Focus on lean protein by including eggs, cheese, peanut butter, beans and meat. Inclusion of protein in the pre-dawn will help in delaying hunger pangs.
- Consume sufficient vegetables and fruits at meals: Including fruits and vegetables in the meals would add healthy nutrients and vitamins to the meals. Include fruits in the form of juices.
- Avoid refined, processed, and junk foods that contain refined carbohydrates (sugar and white flour) like cakes, biscuits, chips, chocolates and sweets, rich oily desserts.
- Keep yourself hydrated: During fasting, the body gets dehydrated over the course of the day, so it is important to keep the body hydrated during the non-fasting hours. Drink sufficient water between Iftar and sleep time, eat water rich fruits like watermelon, plums, sweetlime. One can also have fruit and vegetable juices, soups, coconut water, fruit smoothies, coolers in addition to water.
- Avoid too much intake of caffeinated beverages as they dehydrate the body.
- Avoid too spicy and high fat foods like puris, paranthas, samosa as they can cause abdominal distension and gastric irritation.
- Use baking, steaming, grilling, boiling as methods of cooking rather than deep frying. These methods are healthier and helps retain the taste and original flavour of the food, especially chicken and fish.
One can start Sahur with light and wholesome meal like oats/porridge or whole wheat toast with 1-2 servings of milk and some unsalted nuts. 1-2 servings of fruits after 15-20 mins will add good amount of nutrients. Iftar can start with few dates, followed by plenty of water, which helps rehydration and reduces the chances of overindulgence. Main course can be non-veg 1-2 portions, with whole wheat bread or brown rice with vegetables. Fruits can be included in the fruit based desserts.
Most importantly, it is recommended to engage in some kind of light exercise, such as walking, yoga, stretching etc. to maintain the body’s metabolism and good health.
Cinnamon is a super spice when it comes to boosting your wellbeing as it has many health-giving properties. It is obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon:
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower your bad cholesterol (or LDL).
- Cinnamon may help treat Type 2 Diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels and increasing the amount of insulin production in the body.
- Honey and Cinnamon combined has been found to relieve arthritis pain.
- When added to food, cinnamon inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.
- Just smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory.
- Cinnamon fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices.
- Cinnamon has antifungal properties, and it’s been said that candida cannot live in a cinnamon environment.
- Cinnamon can reduce the proliferation of leukaemia and lymphoma cancer cells.
- Cinnamon has an anti-clotting effect on the blood.
- Cinnamon has been found to be an effective natural remedy for eliminating headaches and migraine relief.
- In terms of weight loss, it’s all to do with controlling those post-meal insulin spikes, which is what make you feel hungry.
- It is a great source of manganese, fibre, iron, and calcium.
- Cinnamon bark is widely used as a spice. It can be employed in cookery as a condiment and flavouring material. Sprinkle it on to your breakfast cereal, or maybe mix it into your morning latte.
- It can also be used in many dessert recipes, such as apple pie, doughnuts, and cinnamon buns as well as spicy candies, tea, hot cocoa etc.
Chia seeds are the seeds of the plant Salvia hispanica. They are tiny seeds that come in white, grey, brown and black colours. The ancient running messengers used it as an energy food and so it is also called the “Indian Running Food”.
These little seeds have a longer shelf life than most other seeds including flax seeds. They have phenomenal health benefits as they have unique combination of nutrients.
- Higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than flax seeds: The high levels of omega-3 & omega-6 fatty acids lower the LDL and raise the HDL levels. It is believed that the action of omega-3 fatty acids is almost at par with the statins that are given for this purpose. The seeds also contain long chain triglycerides which are large molecules that help to brush off the cholesterol deposits from the arterial walls.
- Seeds have 20% protein, 34 % dietary fibre, high levels of antioxidants: The protein is a complete protein with all 8 essential amino acids.
- Chia seeds have a fibre content of more than 36% and the remarkable ability to absorb ten times its weight in water, making it a wonderful way to stay hydrated. By hydrating the colon – it makes it easier for your digestive system to move food through the gut and be eliminated in a timely manner.
- High in antioxidants (It has a four times higher ORAC value than blueberries): Chia seeds contain a good amount of quercetin – an antioxidant known for reducing inflammation – which supports a long, healthy life. Eating a plant-based diet can prevent intestinal disease; improve brain function and increase your energy.
- Gluten free and have low sodium, thus making it suitable for gluten sensitive person.
- High in calcium, potassium, iron and vitamin C: Chia contains five times more calcium than milk, twice the potassium content of banana, seven times more vitamin C than oranges, three times more iron than spinach. The presence of boron helps in the absorption and assimilation of calcium. It is food for healthy skin, hair and nails.
- Good for weight watchers: The soluble fibre in chia seeds forms a gel in the stomach and along with the insoluble fibre this adds roughage and bulk. Since the gel slows down digestion and movement of food, it causes the feeling of fullness to last longer thus controlling hunger and overeating resulting in weight loss.
- Good for Diabetics: The hydrophilic soluble fibre in Chia seeds can absorb water, almost 10 times it weight. The resultant gel in the digestive system creates a sort of barrier between the carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes. This results in slower conversion of carbohydrates into sugar. Due to this sugar levels in the blood don’t spike and this benefits in regulating blood sugar levels.
Studies indicate that for adults 2 tablespoons (about 20 grams) of chia seeds mixed in a glass of water and kept for 20 minutes and stirred a couple of times to break the clumping of seeds, make enough gel to last 1 day. Children can be given 1 tablespoon chia seeds per day.