August 24, 2009

Ramadan: The Right Way

The Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said, "The stomach is the pool of the body and the veins lead to it. When the stomach is healthy, the veins convey health from it: When the stomach is ill, the veins convey illness."

I fully attest to this. We are what we eat and our and our nutrition takes it’s toll on our bodies so fast. Remember, just because you can’t see what’s going on inside it doesn’t mean that you’re taking care of yourself. It’s better to be safe than sorry…

With that said, being disciplined during Ramadan is crucial, not only as part of the practice but to your health. So many people are under the assumption that just because they’re fasting during the day they can eat whatever they want when it’s time to break fast. It’s quite the opposite.

Eating after sunset should be divided into three parts:

Iftar (right at sunset):

-       3 dates
-       1/2 cup juice
-       A light soup

Dinner (an hour or so later):

-       Protein: 3 – 4 oz
-     Carbs: This is where people overdose. DISCPLINE YOURSELVES! Remember starchy vegetables fall in this category – carrots/ peas/ corn. Keep this to 1 cup. Or your bread intake to 2 slices of toast.
-      Veggies: make sure the veggies take up half your plate! Don’t fill yourself with them, but if you’re still hungry after your carb and protein intake eat more veggies. Make sure you get about 1 – 2 teaspoons of olive oil to provide the body with essential fats.

-      Snack/ Dessert (an hour or so later):

-      Trust me I can hardly resist the blanket of delicious Arabic desserts people cover tables with. Just make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than your stomach. I suggest keeping the desserts to 1- 2 times a week but sticking to 1-2 servings of fruit, it's best and the dietary fiber it provides sustains the body much longer. The sugars in dessert will not satisfy you long enough and you will find yourself wanting more.... The power of sugar... 

Suhoor: (pre-dawn):

-      A balance of protein, carbs and fats (the healthey kind) is best here to keep you energized throughout your fast. Legumes and eggs are great. If you can get your hands on foul (fava beans) you can eat it with eggs and olive oil. If you can get yourself to have some veggies that wouldn’t be bad and a piece of fruit to top it off. If you don’t have time to prepare the meal, prepare it at night before you sleep or make yourself a peanut butter or turkey sandwich.

It is so important to drink as much water as you can when you’re not fasting to to keep your body fully hydrated!

With that being said, I know it’s difficult to follow this lifestyle during Ramadan because most families are so used to eating out or with friends... and well there's usually just such good food around. This year, challenge yourself and try something new - plan ahead and discipline yourselves a little more.