Today is the 4th day of Ramadan in the United States and the hottest Ramadan I've experienced – and I'm not fasting! Unfortunately my surgeon would not clear me to fast, preferring me to wait at least a year after having gastric sleeve surgery to attempt fasting. Truthfully I'm not sure I would be able to do it even if he were to allow me. We begin fasting at 3:15am and the fasting day ends around 9pm. I simply wouldn't have the space or ability to eat enough food or drink enough water in 6 hours to be safe. Right now, it takes me all day to eat 800-1000 calories and drink enough liquid not to dehydrate. There have been times when I have not eaten enough and it's immediately apparent to MarocBaba. He says the color drains out of me and my eyes start drooping. I can feel it, I get very tired, dizzy, and unresponsive, but I didn't realize it was physically so apparent.
Just because I can't fast doesn't mean I'm withdrawingfrom all Ramadan activities. I've been trying extra hard this year to be more patient and understanding. I've been extra “wifely” preparing special iftars and dinners. But, I am also keeping things a whole lot healthier. Summer means lots of fresh produce and I am taking advantage! I am not sure if this is a general trend or one of those “if you are looking for it, it's what you'll see” things, but it sure seems to me that a lot of people are adopting a healthy Ramadan experience.
When I asked my Facebook and Twitter followers what kinds of things they wanted to see this Ramadan many answered healthy recipes and/or traditional recipes made healthier. I think it's great that people are more aware of not just the act of not eating during Ramadan, but also thinking about the foods they are choosing to eat.
Here are my tips for helping you have a healthy Ramadan;
Use Seasonal Fruit
I mentioned this above but take advantage of the produce that's available in summer months. I've made a fruit salad every night. This is a good way to replenish natural sugars and liquids in the body. Chilled fruit is refreshing and a much better “dessert” than a big plate of cookies.
Modify Portion Sizes
There's a tendency to “put out a spread” for iftars, I think it's cultural to some extent, but it also encourages over-eating and waste. Instead of putting out a large plate of sweets, opt for a smaller plate. Cut back the amount of meat that you use, and replace it with vegetables.
When I think of summer I think of grilling. If your house is anything like mine, it's hot to turn on the oven or the stove top. Grilling meats, vegetables, and even fruit is an excellent way to keep the inside temperature down and eat more healthfully. Grilling brings out the natural flavors in foods, and like baking, requires very little added fats to cook food through. Kababs, grilled corn, mixed grilled vegetables, burgers, or grilled chicken pieces are all excellent options. Not to mention, it's a great way to get everyone (by everyone I'm thinking oh…husbands) to help with meal preparation.
Water is of course incredibly important when fasting, but having a smoothie or protein shake for iftar or suhoor is a great way to add nutrition without “eating” it. Avocado smoothies are a big favorite here, and I simply mix in a tablespoon of protein powder when mixing it. You could do something similar with fresh mangos, bananas, or even dates. Mix in some full fat Greek yogurt for even more protein.
Protein for Suhoor
This relates back to the previous tip. Eating protein keeps you full longer. A protein smoothie, eggs, yogurt, and lean meats are all good sources of protein. Aim to get 20g+ of protein at suhoor to keep you fueled and full.
Links and Resources for More
Here are some of the other links and resources I've found on eating healthy during Ramadan.
5 Health Benefits of Fasting – from Nour Zibdeh featured on My Halal Kitchen
5 Tips for Healthy Eating During Ramadan – Yvonne Maffei of My Halal Kitchen
Staying Healthy During Ramadan – from Holly of Arabic Zeal
Iftar Day 1 – Follow Henia of Teal Tadjine for her healthy Ramadan iftars!
Date Nut Bars – Nourition has a great recipe to satisfy your sweet tooth without empty calories.
Chicken B'stila Soup – Swap the traditional Moroccan b'stilla for this soup
Cauliflower “Popcorn” – A great low calorie, low carb snack!
Pindi Chana – from Veg Recipes of India, I love this vegetarian dish that would be great with brown rice and grilled chicken.
What are your tips for keeping Ramadan meals healthy?
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