The holy month of Ramadan is here, and Muslims around the world are fasting from dawn to sunset, which means they have to feel full for more than 15 hours. Iftar tables full of family members and friends are among the biggest joys of this holy month, but these lavish iftar tables can be dangerous as well. Since physical activity is usually kept to a minimum and long hours of hunger keep your body vulnerable, people fasting during Ramadan tend to gain weight.
Also eating heavy meals during iftar (the fast-breaking meal) and not drinking enough liquids are harmful habits and do not keep you full no matter how much you eat. The key is to know how much you eat and which foods to include in your diet during Ramadan.
Dietitian Meryem Berrin Ak of Nişantaşı University in Istanbul gave Daily Sabah a few tips on how to regulate your diet for the next 25 days.
According to Ak, it is best to have one or two snacks between iftar and suhoor. "It is wrong to think that if you eat a lot in suhoor you will not feel hungry during the day. The important thing is to eat less and include foods that will keep you full on suhoor tables," said Ak.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so for Ak, suhoor should serve as your breakfast while fasting.
"It is important not to skip suhoor in Ramadan if you do not want to feel extremely hungry during the day," she explained.
For suhoor, it is important to choose food that can be digested easily. The food should be rich in protein and vitamins. Milk, eggs, salt-free cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, nuts and whole wheat bread are perfect choices for a suhoor meal. Or if you want a quick suhoor, a bowl of soup with a slice of whole wheat bread can also be consumed. To tame your sugar cravings, it is always advisable to eat a few dates. If you do not want to feel dehydrated during the day, you should avoid fried foods as well as pastrami, sujuk or salami and salty, spicy and floury foods.
For iftar, the dietitian said it is always good to start with light food, such as yogurt and salad. "After the first few bites, people should start their main meal at least 10 minutes later, giving time to your body to adjust," Ak added.
The most important thing is to make healthy choices to prepare your body for another day of fasting. Iftar tables should have vegetables and meals as well as soup to help you stay hydrated. Also wait at least 45 minutes to drink your coffee to give your body time to absorb the vitamins and minerals you ingest during iftar. Apart from what you eat, it is also important how you eat in Ramadan. Ak advises eating slowly both during iftar and suhoor.
"The feeling of fullness comes after 10 to 12 minutes. If you eat fast to suppress your hunger, you will push your digestive system too hard. In order to prevent that, the key is to eat slowly and stick to small portions," Ak added. To maintain a healthy digestive system in Ramadan, the best thing you can do is consume food high in fiber and drink as much water as possible. Also, instead of consuming fruit right after dinner, spread it out as snacks between iftar and suhoor.
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