How to keep healthy diet during Ramadan

Diet requires balanced calories divided between Iftar and Suhoor meals

An expert has emphasised the importance of following a healthy Ramadan lifestyle with regular exercise and proper eating habit that helps get adequate calories divided between the iftar and suhoor meals by balanced proportions.

The balanced calories included in the meals could be carbohydrates (45 percent to 50 percent), protein (20 percent to 30 percent) and healthy fats (25 percent to 35 percent), a specialist nutritionist at Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), the UAE’s largest healthcare network, told Emirates News Agency (WAM) on Wednesday.

“Simultaneously, those undertaking long hours of fasting should avoid sugary and fatty foods, and limit processed carbohydrates. These should be replaced with plenty of water and hydrating foods, while restricting intake of sweetened drinks, coffee, tea and surplus soft drinks during and after iftar,” said Nujoud Al Ameri, Clinical Nutrition Specialist at Madinat Zayed Hospital, part of Al Dhafra Hospitals within the SEHA network.

Overeating harms body, hinders spiritual growth

Advising against excessive eating during Ramadan, she warned, “Overeating cannot only harm the body, but it may also interfere with a person’s spiritual growth during the month.”

“Through fasting, you begin to learn how to manage your eating habits and how to improve self-control and discipline. This month requires a diet that is sufficiently balanced to keep a person healthy and active. The diet should be simple and contain foods from all the major food groups,” Al Ameri explained.

Fasting during Ramadan can be a natural and effective way for healthy people to detox their bodies, she pointed out.

Ramadan helps weight loss, drop in blood pressure, cholesterol

By following simple guidelines, many are able to lose weight and decrease blood pressure and cholesterol. Alternatively, over-indulging in iftar or suhoor meals can cause weight gain, she cautioned.

“With long fasting hours, it is very common that changes to your eating and sleeping habits can be disruptive to your body and mind. But if you plan ahead and start to adjust your regular routine, you can minimise this disruption.”

Prioritising sleep

Al Ameri also stressed the importance of prioritising sleep just as much as healthy eating during Ramadan.

“It is important to actively regulate sleeping and waking times, naps or scheduling additional times for rest as your body can feel more tired during the day. This allows for a measure of rest to perform physical activity before or after iftar and suhoor meals,” she said.

The doctor advised smokers to start curtailing their daily habit and even use this period to help give up smoking altogether.

Continuing modified exercise

Al Ameri said people do not need to forego their exercise routine in Ramadan, but it may need to be modified.

“You should consider changing the time you exercise or the activity you do when working out. The intensity of your exercise routine should also be scaled back, swapping high intensity workouts for more moderate regimens.”

For example, she suggested walking in safe, socially distanced settings and aim to reach 10,000 steps every day.

“You can even schedule more time for family sports and hobbies such as football, volleyball, or tennis – these all are great ways to continue being physically active and maintain physical fitness, in addition to enhancing a general sense of wellbeing. To facilitate this transition, plan your workouts in advance to ensure you have adequate energy and hydration levels for exercising.”

The doctor advised patients with chronic medical conditions to consult their doctors before starting any exercise routine – particularly those reliant on diabetes medication, in order to adjust the dose and timings.