Ramadan is a period of fasting; however overindulging in food when breaking a fast can lead to weight gain.
“Fasting, if done responsibly, can benefit your health,” said Mrs. Charina Daniel, Clinical Dietetics Coordinator at Hamad Medical Corporation. “It has been proven that reduced food intake is one of the most effective factors in improving health and longevity. Fasting in Ramadan allows our body to use stored fats and glycogen thereby promoting weight and body fat loss.”
Mrs. Daniel explained that the key to avoiding weight gain during Ramadan is to plan ahead. “Plan your Ramadan meals. You should know in advance the foods you plan to prepare for your Iftar and Suhour meals. Foods should be healthy, balanced and nutritious and include foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber such as whole grains, fruit and vegetables as well as lean meat, chicken or fish and low fat products,” she advised.
Mrs. Daniel also recommended looking for low fat recipes for favorite dishes and experimenting when cooking by substituting high fat ingredients with lower fat alternatives. She said: “Look out for recipes with lots of fruit and vegetables which are delicious but low in calories. You can also include dishes prepared by baking, grilling, steaming or stewing and avoid foods that are deep fried. Decide which high calorie food you wish to include - such as rich pastries, appetizers and sweet desserts - and choose small portions of these.”
When planning for Iftar, Mrs. Daniel said people should start with a light meal such as dates, laban or hot soup. Food for Iftar should include healthy options such as whole grain starches, brown rice or potatoes, brown pasta, lean meat, fish or poultry, and raw or cooked vegetables. She suggested people should substitute desserts with fruit.
For Suhour, Mrs. Daniel highlighted that people should consume complex carbohydrates such as brown bread or whole wheat bread and lean protein such as eggs, grilled chicken breast or low fat white cheese, dried beans or lentils. People can also include low fat or skimmed dairy products such as yogurt, laban or milk and a cup of fresh vegetables and fruit to make their meal healthier and more nutritious.
“Plan to drink enough water when permitted during Ramadan to prevent dehydration. Water plays a role in weight loss and maintenance because it helps to get rid of toxins and reduces hunger. Most of all, the key to avoiding weight gain during Ramadan is moderation. You can always seek help from your dietitian if you wish to get a more comprehensive and individually tailored meal plan for yourself during Ramadan,” concluded Mrs. Daniel.
Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Healthcare Communications in the Ministry of Public Health in collaboration with HMC and the Primary Health Care Corporation has launched a website dedicated to helping the people of Qatar stay healthy during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Visit the website - www.hamad.qa/ramadanhealth - for important information on healthy eating as well as other strategies for staying safe and well during the Holy Month.