Expert tips for a balanced, healthy Ramadan diet

Published 31.05.2017 23:19
Updated 31.05.2017 23:20
Expert tips for a balanced, healthy Ramadan diet

During the month of Ramadan, when people fast for more than 12 hours, iftar meals are crucial for maintaining a sufficient, balanced diet especially in places where the summer season is in full swing

Iftar, the fast-breaking meal, must be prepared in accordance with a sufficient and balanced diet as in recent years Ramadan has corresponded to the summer months requiring that people fast for long hours, experts say.

The head of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics in the Faculty of Heath Sciences, Associate Professor Elvan Yılmaz Akyüz, talked to Anadolu Agency (AA) and reiterated that daily dietary changes during Ramadan as three main meals reduced to two.

Informing AA about the importance of a well-planned diet with a sufficient, balanced nutritional content in iftar and sahur meals, Akyüz added, "If Ramadan fasters can tame both the body and soul and succeed in self-denial, which are the requirements of Ramadan, there is no need to talk about incorrect and over-eating."

Since blood sugar decreases considerably after experiencing hunger for longer durations of time, people have a tendency to over consume during iftar. Thus, it is a must that Ramadan fasters consume filling foods during the sahur meal. A breakfast consisting of milk, cheese, a little honey, molasses or jam along with boiled vegetables, fresh fruits and dried fruits like peanuts, almonds and walnuts are best for sahur. Also, a combination of soup and vegetable-based and olive oil-based dishes may be an alternative to breakfast, according to experts. To prevent excessive hunger during the day and to keep the stomach full, those observing the fast consume whole wheat, bran or rye bread along with egg, milk and yogurt. Also, avoid over fatty, salty foods and fried pastries that can wear out your stomach.

According to Akyüz, people should consume water, dates, olives, cheese, cucumber and tomato as starters during iftar for good stomach health. He added, "After breaking the fast with soup, take a break from eating for 15-to-20 minutes. Then, consume meat, chicken or fish along with vegetables or an olive oil dish. You should balance the meal with fruit stew, yogurt, ayran and "cacık," a kind of cold soup made of yogurt and cucumber. Also, keep in mind that a piece of pide, or Ramadan pita, is equal to a slice of bread. Therefore, you must be careful while consuming it along with rice, pasta and pastries. To cope with constipation problems, consume fiber-rich foods like legumes, unpeeled fruits, dried fruit and vegetables. Keep in mind that water consumption is very import during Ramadan. You should consume liquids along with your meal to make digestion easier. Water, ayran, sugar-free fruit stew and mineral water should be preferred during a meal. Tea or coffee, on the other hand, mustn't be consumed in the first 30 minutes after a meal."

Akyüz stated that the fasting could consume fruit or milk puddings three times a week as a snack after iftar. Associate Professor Cumali Karatoprak, a member of Bezmialem Foundation University, Application and Research Center's Department of Internal Diseases, reiterated that the fasting stay hungry and thirsty for long hours and eat more but sleep less throughout short nights during Ramadan.

Since the effects of these radical changes that come with Ramadan must be studied, Karatoprak said: "Most studies show that fasting doesn't have a negative impact on a healthy person. On the other hand, fasting results in a considerable recovery with regard to high blood pressure, insulin resistance, blood sugar and cholesterol. Fasting also helps in losing weight and decreases inflammation, giving people a way to feel much healthier. However, keep in mind that fasting may have negative effects on those with chronic diseases. In such cases, patient must ask doctors about the risks of fasting and the patient must always make the decision. Thus, both the psychology and the health of the patient can be protected. Fasting reduces the affects of chemotherapy on patients. Those with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, chronic bronchitis, coronary failure, cirrhosis, renal impairment, peptic ulcers or inflammatory bowel disease, must see their doctors before deciding to fast, and the time for treatment should be arranged according to iftar and sahur hours. Also, if there are medicines that affect them negatively, medicines should be rearranged."

Karatoprak pointed out that the fasting should not eat too quickly or excessively when breaking the fast, adding: "Dividing iftar into two sessions prevents blood sugar imbalance and overconsumption. On the other hand, the fasting should prefer dried fruits rather than traditional desserts. Remember to consume water, milk or ayran an hour after iftar as it is very import to consume enough liquid during Ramadan. The amount of liquid may change according to perspiration, the content of the food and the amount of urine; however, you must consume about 1.5 or 2 liters of water. Keep in mind that as well as insufficient consumption, excessive liquid intake is also harmful for the human body.

Karatoprak said that the sahur meal is a must for those fasting, adding: "It is of high importance to have sahur in Ramadan in terms of daily needs, a balanced caloric intake and effectively keeping the body energetic all day long. You may prefer fat and protein-rich foods like eggs, "menemen," which is a kind of spicy Turkish omlet, olives, carrot, yogurt, salad, peas, and beans along with oatmeal, which is fiber-rich, as well as apple and complex carbs. These nutrients will be useful both for the digestive system and for long-term satiety. On the other hand, avoid salty and fatty food like fried meat, sausage and salami. Also, avoid desserts as they make you feel hungry in a short time during daytime hours. Diuretics foods like watermelon also should not be consumed at sahur."

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