Ramadan is a time in which Muslims are required to abstain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. With this comes two significant mealtimes wherein Muslims initiate and break the fast. These are referred to as Suhoor and Iftaar, and it’s important that they consist of healthy ingredients that will sustain the body throughout the day. Since your body will be reliant on the nutrients that you consume in each of these mealtimes, it’s imperative that you get it right. Therefore, at Orphans in Need, we’re doing all that we can to offer guidance about a healthy Iftaar and Suhoor.
The Religious Significance of Iftaar and Suhoor
Suhoor is the meal that is consumed before dawn in order to equip the body to fast throughout the day. Despite this, it also has an abundance of religious significance, as an essential factor of Suhoor is making the intention to fast. On top of this, Suhoor is the third part of the night in which one should pray to Allah (SWT), make Du’a, and seek forgiveness.
In Arabic, Iftaar means “to break”, as this is the meal in which Muslims break their fast. This is a highly significant moment, as it’s the time that Muslims have fulfilled their obligation to Allah (SWT). Traditionally, the fast is broken by eating dates, as this is what the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) did from as early as the first Ramadan.
The Health Benefits of Fasting
In addition to the religious significance, fasting also comes with a multitude of health benefits. These include improved blood sugar management, disease prevention, delayed ageing, improved metabolism, and weight loss support. Despite this, when it comes to breaking your fast, you must eat healthily and in moderation so that you don’t negate the spiritual and physical benefits of the fat.
What a Healthy Iftaar Meal Should Consist Of
It’s suggested that a healthy Iftaar meal consists of two parts; those fasting should eat one or two dates to break the day’s fast, followed by a glass of water and some soup or yoghurt. Despite this, ready-made or cream-based soups should be avoided, as they’re high in calories and sodium alike, which can result in gastric discomfort. This is considered to be the initial part of the Iftaar meal.
The second part should be comprised of a sufficient amount of protein, including beans, fish, chicken, or meat. Alongside this, you should have a side of carbohydrates and vegetables. Each of these parts ensures that you’re replenished after the day’s fast without overindulging, which can have a counterproductive effect.
How to Ensure Proper Nutrient Intake
As previously mentioned, it’s not advised to overindulge during the night in order to account for a day of fasting. During the night, you should aim to meet your needs in terms of vitamins, minerals, fibre, fluids, vegetables, carbohydrates, proteins, and calories. If you eat in excess of your requirements, you’ll likely experience cravings and hunger pangs during the day’s fast.
Why Caffeinated Beverages Should Be Limited
Caffeine consumption encourages the body to lose fluids, which contributes to the danger of dehydration. In an ideal world, Muslims wouldn’t consume caffeinated beverages at all during Ramadan; however, some individuals may be reliant on caffeine. Depending on the individual’s usual intake, one to three cups of coffee a day is deemed a moderate amount. Therefore, as long as plenty of water is consumed to account for the loss of fluids, caffeinated beverages may still be consumed during the month of Ramadan.
Why Sweets Should Be Limited
Sweets merely contain fats and sugars in the absence of protein. As a result, sweets cause a spike in sugar levels, triggering the storage of fats, which ultimately leads to weight gain. Not only can indulging in sweets during Ramadan result in weight gain, but sugary treats are not a sufficient means of sustaining yourself throughout the day. Instead, they provide you with a sudden burst of energy that later turns into a sugar crash. As a result, you’ll crave sweets during your fast as your body will become reliant on the refined sugars.
What a Sufficient Suhoor Should Consist Of
It’s recommended that a healthy Suhoor is comprised of nuts, fruits, vegetables, a complex carbohydrate, and a source of protein. This is because each of these food groups provides the body with slow-releasing energy, successfully sustaining it throughout the day’s fast. Foods that increase fatigue, thirst, and hunger should be swiftly avoided, as these contribute to your likelihood of breaking your fast in the day.
How to Exercise During Ramadan
Although it’s important to exercise during Ramadan, it’s even more vital that you do this safely. As a result, you should do low to moderate intensity exercises, such as walking, yoga, or Pilates. Exercise should be executed within one of two time slots, including an hour or two ahead of Iftar and after Iftar. This is because you can ensure that you’re properly nourished following your workout, or you’ll already feel replenished after your nutritious Iftaar meal.
Healthy Ramadan Recipes
Coming up with healthy Ramadan recipes can be a tricky feat but, thanks to Orphans in Need, you don’t have to! Head on over to our Date Truffles, Yoghurt Dessert, African Berber Tagine, and Couscous Veg Recipes to discover more. Otherwise, you can donate to our appeals to ensure that the needy aren’t going without Iftaar and Suhoor.