During summer, the fasting period is prolonged and people want to eat more than usual when it is time for iftar. However, you should keep in mind that if you eat too much during iftar, it will cause indigestion, hyperglycemia, stomach pain and high blood pressure. Thus, the golden rule for a healthy Ramadan and fasting is eating light, which means consuming foods that are not heavy on the stomach and easy to digest, but give you a feeling of fullness. Here are 10 important points that you should take into consideration while shopping and preparing for your meals during Ramadan.
1 It is easier to digest white meat rather than red meat. Skinless chicken, turkey or fish lack saturated fat while they are rich in polyunsaturated fat and thus are not stored in the bowels as long as red meat. While you are fasting, chicken or turkey enriched with fresh vegetables is a great alternative for iftar tables. You can either cook it in a pressure cooker or saute cubes with various legumes.
2 Milk and yogurt are two of the most important sources of calcium that you should consume during Ramadan. However, you should be careful to choose low-fat or fat-free products. As low-fat and fat-free milk and yogurt lack saturated fat and not heavy on the stomach or the bowels.
3 All cheese is good for iftar meals and should play the leading role on your iftar and sahur tables if you want to have a substantial meal. But be careful to choose salt-free and low-fat cheeses such as quark, string cheese, low-fat white cheese, mozzarella and kashar.
4 Olives are rich in antioxidants. While fasting, I advise you to consume green olives, which are enriched with antioxidants instead of pickled olives. Add flavor to olives with olive oil and pomegranate syrup, as well as spices like chili pepper, dry mint and thyme.
5 Ramadan pide is one of the irreplaceable items of iftar and sahur meals during this holy month. However, I suggest you consume it less as it is made with white flour and has a glycemic index of 100 percent. Do not forget that you can consume a handful of pide during your iftar or sahur meals if you can find special Ramdan pides made of whole-wheat or rye flour. I also advise you to stay away from bad nourishment habits such as putting butter on hot Ramadan pide. When white flour and butter are eaten together it causes digestive problems and can make you feel thirsty the next day.
6 Desserts are the most eaten food during Ramadan. After a long period of hunger, the body might crave sweets. However, as the metabolism slows down during fasting, it is important to choose the right dessert. I recommend you consume low-calorie sweets such as ice cream and milk puddings, which are easy to digest instead of desserts consisting of high-calories and syrup that slows down your metabolism. You can buy ice cream from trustworthy brands and store it in the refrigerator.
7 I also advise you make room for traditional Ramadan desserts at your iftar and sahur tables. "Güllaç" – rice wafers stuffed with nuts – is a fine alternative that you can consume after your main dishes. It is also good to cut down portion sizes and enrich these kinds of desserts with ice cream, in order to balance your blood sugar. You can serve a slice of "güllaç" with a scoop of Maraş ice cream to offer guests a light and refreshing dessert.
8 Consume legumes and vegetable dishes more than normal during Ramadan. Meals prepared with legumes such as lentils or chickpeas, as well as fresh vegetables like eggplant and artichoke, offer you and your guests low-calorie, nutritious and easy to digest iftar dinners.
9 Eggs are the lightest and healthiest protein source. I advise you consume eggs at sahur since one egg has over 50 calories and gives you a feeling of fullness. You can eat eggs boiled or scrambled as long as it is fat-free.
10 Keep your refrigerator filled with fresh and dry fruits during Ramadan. They will help your bowels work, as they contain dietary fibers. From watermelon to strawberries, dried dates and grapes, these little snacks can replace your meal instead of having heavy dishes.