LIFESTYLE The Ramzan fasting diet should promote health and wellbeing
Fasting during Ramzan is believed to promote health and help those who are overweight shed those kilos. But those who are not careful with what they eat during the pre-dawn and dusk meals, run the risk of gaining unnecessary weight and develop other problems such as high cholesterol and poor control of diabetes.
Feasting during non-fasting hours can be unhealthy and unless fasting is done with discipline, the opportunity to lose weight and improve health would be wasted.
A balanced diet
Those observing the fast should eat at least two meals a day: the pre-dawn meal and the one at dusk.
The meals should be balanced, containing foods from all the food groups — fruits-vegetables, cereals, chicken-fish-pulses, low fat milk products, and limited fats and sugars.
The pre-dawn meal should be wholesome, rich in complex carbohydrates and fibre, so that it is not only filling but also provides energy to sustain one throughout the day. Breaking the fast with dates and plenty of fluids is re-hydrating and provides energy; this should be followed by a meal. Portions should not be oversized.
Avoid oily and fried foods such as samosas, parathas and pakoras, and foods that have a high sugar and fat content such as gulab jamuns or jelebis.
Traditional dishes that are oily and sugar-laden can be restricted for a few days, rather than consuming them everyday.
What should be consumed
Water and dates are a must in the pre-dawn and dusk meals.
Pre-dawn meals: a bowl of cereal or porridge with milk, brown bread toast with cheese, a handful of unsalted nuts and whole fruits.
At dusk: Boiled or grilled chicken with rice, vegetable-sprout salads, curds and fruit custard. Whole wheat pasta, rotis without oil, pita breads can be alternated with rice. Grilled or boiled fish can be included instead of chicken. Limit or avoid consumption of red meat.