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Diet tips for fasting during Ramzan

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October 11, 2007

The month of Ramzan calls for fasting throughout the day, with just a pre-dawn snack followed by a meal only after sunset. For those keeping the fast, here are important dietary tips to keep in mind:

Mornings start early at 4 am, when people pray and usually eat a meal. While some prefer a heavy meal, others keep it light depending on their appetite and habits. This meal usually comprises rotis with phirnee (rice pudding) and some non-vegetarian food like eggs, chicken or red meat. There are also vegetables in some form, fruit, dry fruit and water.

Dietary suggestions
~ You can consume 1-2 servings of cereal in the form of dalia or oat porridge, or even chapattis.

~ A glass of milk with a teaspoon of dry fruit and 1 serving of any non-vegetarian food like 1 egg or 2 slices of chicken, beef, lamb, goat, fish.

~ End the meal with fruit and make sure you drink enough water without it making you feel too full.

~ Eat slowly and chew thoroughly so it gets digested well. Including a mix of complex carbohydrates like cereal and a non-vegetarian item will give you a feeling of fullness and keep energy levels up through the day.

~ Drink water only after your meal. If you drink during the meal, it slows down digestion and can also reduce your appetite temporarily, which will cause you to feel hungry or low on energy later.

This is when the day's fast is broken. It is traditional and customary to have dates first to break the fast and follow it up with a snack before going back to pray. The snacks usually include bhajias, kebabs, malpua, fruit, and falooda with sherbet. After this snack, some people have a good dinner later at 9.30 or 10 pm. This meal usually comprises chapattis, rice and red meat, and vegetables. Others tend to have just water or tea with more evening snacks.

Dietary suggestions
~ The body's immediate need at the time of iftar is to get an easily available energy source in the form of glucose for every living cell, particularly the brain and nerve cells. Dates and juices are good sources of sugars.

~ Dates and juice in the above quantity are sufficient to bring low blood glucose levels to normal. Juice and soup help maintain water and mineral balance in the body.

~ Again, make sure you chew your food well and eat slowly so it doesn't cause a sudden attack of acidity. Starting with dates followed by fruit is a good idea as it will slowly bring up energy levels, be light on the stomach. Fruit will also quench your thirst and build your appetite for later. Avoid drinking too many sugary drinks or adding excess salt to foods as this can actually drain and dehydrate you.

~ It is better to have a normal dinner comprising 2-4 servings of rice or rotis along with 1-2 servings of chicken, beef, lamb, goat, fish or eggs, as well as 2-3 servings of vegetables. This will ensure your body's nutritional needs are being met and, at the same time, you are getting enough fibre which will make you feel full while preventing gas, acidity and constipation.

~Drink sufficient water between iftar and sleep to avoid dehydration.

~ Consume sufficient vegetables at meals. Eat fruits at the end of the meal

~ Avoid foods with too much spice.

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