Ask the Nutritionist: The Month of Fasting or Feasting? - By Afsah Moinuddin
Samosa, dahi baray, chaat, rooh afza!* Some of the mouth-watering foods we treat ourselves to in Ramadan. It has become part of the norm to eat fried, sweet, and salty foods because it is so appetizing. After a long day of fasting, you crave these foods, but is it healthy? Absolutely not. Have you ever wondered why you felt gassy, bloated, nauseous or sluggish after a salty, heavy, fried feast? Or why you actually gained weight at the end of the month of Ramadan even after fasting 15-16 hours without a bite of food or drop of water? It's quite simple. What you put in, effects how your body reacts.
Think of your body as a car engine, if you put a high quality sourced fuel in, your engine will run smoothly and longer. If you put a poor quality fuel in your car, you will be damaging your engine, running on exhaust fumes and a short lived ride.
The high quality fuel is symbolic for the high quality diet. It needs to be rich in vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The poor quality fuel is symbolic for the poor quality diet which consists of highly processed foods, deep fried foods, and junk food which are high in calories but low in nutrients.
A balanced nutritious diet aims to include foods from all five food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, protein, and dairy. Your focus should not be on counting calories, especially in Ramadan, but overall well-being and knowing how to choose the right foods can make it that much easier.
Look below for some of my quick meal options and tricks to making your diet a bit more consistent. It’s never too late to start a good habit, but it takes time to develop and nurture it.
Afsah’s Simple and Easy Ramadan Meal Ideas:
Suhoor / Morning Meal
- Oatmeal with nuts and raisins
- Vegetable omelet wrap
- Yogurt lassi with dates
- Avocado toast
Iftar ideas/ Evening Meal
- Squash soup, baked chicken, mixed spring salad, fresh fruits and fruit infused water.
- Lentil soup, baked fish, brown rice, sauteed veggies, fruit smoothie, caffeine free tea.
- Baked samosas, Chickpea salad, mix vegetable rice, meat curry, fresh fruits and milk.
Afsah’s 5 Quick tips to help you stay on track:
- Stay Hydrated
- On average, we need about 6-8 glasses of water to be hydrated. You can get some of your fluids from soups, fruits, and milk too.
- Avoid Very Salty Foods
- Too much salt will make you feel bloated and swell up your feet, making it difficult to stand in prayer for long periods of time.
- Limit Fried Food
- The occasional samosa/pakora won’t hurt but the calories will add up pretty fast.
- Opt For Fruit Infused Water Instead Of Sugary Drinks
- To quench your thirst, stick to fresh water and fruit. The colas and rooh afzas will make you even more thirsty.
- Choose A Variety Of Foods That Are Full Of Color And Flavor
- Make your iftar plate insta worthy, colorful fruits, vegetables, with a variety of whole grains and proteins.
Terms For Understanding:
*Dahi bade – is a tasty snack that requires you to fry up some goodies in a tasty yogurt sauce
*Chaat – there are different forms of this tasty snack, some require chickpeas and frying up some samosas and pouring various spicy and sweet sauces.
*Roof Afza is a classic drink that is made with a sweet rose water syrup which is mixed in water or milk
Note About the Author: Afsah Moinuddin is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Masters in Public Health and Nutrition from Loma Linda University. She has an eclectic career as a clinical dietitian, nutrition counselor, health blogger, and motivational speaker.
She coaches the Art of Mindful Eating and Building a Healthy and Joyous Relationship with Food and Your Body. Afsah is a mother to 3 and happily married living in California. She enjoys riding her bike, reading books, and cooking healthy meals for her family. Follow her newly created blog at www.nutritivewellness.com and follow her on instagram @nutritive_wellness !