Nutrition and Fasting

Sat Nov 23, 2013 9:13 am




No one doubts the positive effect fasting has on your mental, spiritual, emotional, physical and social wellbeing. Ramadan is considered a golden opportunity for making health care decisions and healthy life style choices for you and your family. Muslims do not fast during Ramadan because of health benefits but because fasting has been ordained to them in the Quran. The health benefits of Ramadan are the result of fasting. Fasting in Ramadan is different from fad diets, because in Ramadan fasting, there is no malnutrition or inadequate caloric intake. Proper fasting involves moderation in consuming foods and calories. When done properly, fasting accomplishes the following: Improves focus, concentration and brain functions. Lowers the level of stress by reducing stress hormones in the body. Empowers smokers to quit smoking. Supports getting rid of excess body weight and helps maintain healthy weight. Supports adopting healthy eating patterns and habits. Improves heart health as it lowers the cholesterol level and blood pressure. Supports controlling appetite as the reduction in food consumed throughout fasting hours causes the stomach to gradually shrink, meaning eating less and feeling full fast. Supports detoxification and cleansing of the digestive system by not eating or drinking throughout the day. Improves nutrients’ absorption from the intestines. Supports self-regulation and control that lasts beyond the end of Ramadan. Improves longevity. Lowers blood sugar and reduces the risks of diabetes. Supports psychological health and enhances safe behaviors, peacefulness and lowers aggressiveness. Supports environmental health as ideally it reduces food waste and saves resources.
Iftar Meal

The body's immediate need at Iftar time is to get energy in the form of glucose. Dates and juices are good sources of sugars to bring low blood glucose levels to normal. Juice and soup help maintain fluid and mineral balance in the body. The Iftar meal should be light, not greasy or sugary or heavy. The Iftar meal should not be considered as compensation for the fasting day, as fasting does not give you the license to stuff yourself with greasy and sugary foods that will negatively impact your health. For starters, a few dates (3 - 5 pieces) and a cup of soup (vegetables, oats, lentils, beans, grains) plus a cup of fruit juice are recommended. The stomach has not been active for the long fasting hours and these foods can help stimulate the stomach to secrete its juices and aid with digestion. It is important not to skip them because fluids (soup and juice) and dates help prevent constipation, which may be one of the consequences of fasting. Salad comes next. Vegetables provide a good amount of vitamins, fiber and minerals. Choose salads and vegetables with light dressings or a little olive oil. Avoid adding large quantities of oil and salt. The main dish can be composed of protein such as meat, preferably lean meat, skinless poultry or fish. Try to avoid frying. Fried foods absorb more oil, which increases calorie intake and may lead to weight gain and poor digestion. It is very important to consume starches, such as whole-wheat grains, bread, pastas, potatoes or rice, which are nourishing and filling. These items should not be prepared with too much fat or salt. Sweet foods are composed of high fat and sugars, thus providing a lot of calories. Sweets should be consumed in moderation. As a substitute, fruits are recommended due to their content of fiber and vitamins, and low calorie content in comparison to sweets.
Healthy Snacks Between Iftar and Sahoor Meals

Beverages, such as unsweetened fruit juices, vegetable juices, decaffeinated coffee and green tea, instead of regular soft drinks and sweetened drinks. Vegetable or whole grain soups instead of creamy ones. Whole-wheat bread, whole grains and cereals. Baked or grilled or steamed lean meat, skinless poultry, sea food and to include salmon fish in the main dishes. It is better to avoid fried dishes and sausages. Baked whole flour pastries, Samboosa and vegetable rolls. Low fat/nonfat dairy products. Oat meal cookies mixed with almond or walnuts. Mixed green salads. Low fat/nonfat dressings. Selection of fresh fruit cuts/salads. Light desserts/fruit desserts instead of fatty sweets. Whole-wheat sandwiches, such as tuna or low fat cheese.
Sahoor Meal

There are many health benefits of fasting during Ramadan, physically and mentally, as fasting is a golden opportunity for making health care decisions and is the ticket for better health. Fasting supports shedding extra weight for obese people, boosts brain functions, improves lipids profile, controls appetite, supports cleansing the body and detoxifying the digestive system, helps in nutrient absorption, improves blood sugar levels, and supports developing a healthier lifestyle that can be sustained after Ramadan. Fasting during Ramadan can also lead to a long-term commitment for healthy eating and living. The SAMSO Healthy Eating Advisory Team says that Ramadan meals should be healthy and well balanced, and the Iftar meal should be light, not greasy, sugary or heavy. The Iftar meal should not be considered as compensation for the fasting day, as fasting does not give you the license to stuff yourself with greasy and sugary foods that will negatively impact your health. The Sahoor meal (pre-dawn meal before the fast begins) is very important and has many advantages for health. The SAMSO Healthy Eating Advisory Team recommends the following nutrition tips for the Sahoor meal to capitalize on its health benefits: Take the meal at predawn time, not at midnight. This will sustain you more during the long fasting hours of the day. Make it a well-balanced meal by including fresh or dried fruits, vegetables, low fat or nonfat dairy products, complex carbohydrates (such as baked potatoes, oat, barley, whole-wheat bread or cereals, cooked beans or lentils or hummus), lean meat or skinless poultry or baked fish, and a little healthy oil. The glycemic index of this meal is low, meaning that it will make you feel full during the fasting hours and will not raise your blood sugar quickly. The foods in this meal will release the energy slowly during the fasting hours, reduce your hunger, increase your metabolic rate, help you to avoid muscle break down, and keep you active while fasting. Take adequate fluids with the Sahoor meal, such low fat grain, vegetable, lentil or oat soup. Drink water, but hydration should take place between Iftar and Sahoor meals. Reduce your caffeine intake, as it is a diuretic and will deplete your body of its water and make you dehydrated. Caffeinated drinks are coffee, tea, cocoa and cola. Reduce your intake of sugary drinks and sweets, as these foods are unhealthy, increase your blood sugar, induce hunger, increase lethargy and fatigue, and lower your metabolism. Don’t sleep immediately after the Sahoor meal. Give yourself 2 hours to digest the food.

Exercise Plan during Ramadan

Ramadan is not an excuse for not practicing regular exercise. It is important to continue exercising during Ramadan to maintain the metabolic rate, fitness level, and proper function of the body’s systems. Exercise helps to avoid weight gain, loss of strength, and supports maintenance of muscle mass. There are many health benefits from exercise during Ramadan, where fasters are advised to increase their daily activities during fasting hours and to practice moderate and regular activity after fasting breaks. All of these efforts will support achieving the health objectives that are set during the Holy Month of Ramadan. Activities during Fasting Hours: Set simple exercise goals, such as walking to the Mosque instead of using the car and using the stairs instead of an elevator. Stretch your muscles several times during the day. Park your car at a comfortable walking distance from your office or the supermarket. Avoid strenuous exercise during fasting hours, such as running or weight lifting. These will lead to dehydration, fatigue, low blood sugar and muscle breakdown. Activities after Breaking your Fasting: Practice brisk walking, jogging or swimming for 30-45 minutes a day. Wait for 2 hours after your Iftar meal or before Sahoor meal to give your body the chance to digest the food. Limit consuming fried foods or too much at an Iftar meal, as these will make you feel sleepy, fatigued and unable to do exercise. Stretch your arms and legs before and after Taraweeh prayer, as it involves long periods of standing. Hydrate your body and drink adequate amounts of water. Limit your intake of caffeine-containing drinks, such as coffee, tea and cola, as these will deplete your body of water. Divide your meals into small and frequent. Consume light and low fat meals and increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Avoid smoking (active or passive), as this will limit your exercise ability and cause serious health problems. Be motivated and practice exercise with friends and/or family members, and enjoy the experience.
Tips to Avoid Dehydration

Water makes up around 70% of our bodies, and it’s vital for all the organs and processes of the body, such as eliminating wastes, transporting nutrients, digestion and circulation. Ramadan days this year are long and hot, and when we sweat, our bodies can become dehydrated, because we lose water. Dehydration is risky and affects our daily activities, leaving us fatigued, dizzy and constipated; and causing headaches and poor concentration. To prevent dehydration during Ramadan, here are some helpful suggestions from SAMSO: Be salt cautious. Salt increases water requirements by our bodies, makes us feel thirsty, and puts an extra load on our kidneys to get rid of it, and when doing that, it depletes the body of water. To avoid this, reduce your salt intake and limit your intake of salty foods, such as olives, pickles, salty cheeses, ketchup, dressings, sauces, etc., Instead of these salty condiments, try herbs, spices, garlic, onion, and lemon. These can be added to food to enhance its taste and flavor. Gradually drink water and other fluids after the Iftar meal. Hydrate your body between the Iftar and Sahoor meals, rather than drinking a lot of fluids at Sahoor time, as this action will make the kidneys remove excess water quickly. Try to limit your intake of sugary drinks to avoid consuming excess calories, instead add low fat soup to your meal in addition to low fat laban and unsweetened fruit juice. These fluids help replace the lost nutrients and water from your body. Diabetics need to control their blood sugar, as higher levels of blood sugar deplete their bodies of water and cause further dehydration. Be caffeine cautious, as caffeine is a diuretic and depletes the body’s water. Try to limit caffeine-containing drinks at Sahoor time, such as coffee, tea and cola, to avoid dehydration during the day time. Avoid consuming a lot of protein, such as meat, fish or poultry. Our kidneys use the body’s water to eliminate the end products of protein in urine; this increases the need for water and causes further dehydration. Avoid excessive exposure to sun and remain in a cool and shaded area as possible, wear a cap and try to wet your body and head with water, when possible. Practice frequent hand washing with water and soap to reduce the risk of infection. In addition, consume safe foods, as infection and food poisoning cause an elevation of body temperature, diarrhea and water loss.

Tips to Avoid Constipation
Many people during their fasting days may experience constipation, which is the most common gastrointestinal problem during Ramadan. The movement of the food through the digestive system takes a longer time than normal where the feces become hard to defecate and the evacuation becomes irregular and painful. After digestion of food in the stomach and absorption of nutrients in the small intestine: most of the fiber reaches the large intestine, absorbs water and swells, becomes large in volume, fills the bowel, stimulates the large intestine to contract and evacuate the feces. Fiber makes the stool cylindrical in shape, soft in texture and easy to move out. Major causes of constipation: Consuming less food that is rich in fiber. Fiber is found in whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains and cereals, bran, and legumes such as beans and lentils. Consuming more refined foods and low fiber meals leads to insufficient filling of the bowel and constipation. Not drinking adequate fluids, in particular water. Excessive consumption of caffeine containing drinks, such as tea, coffee and cola. Caffeine depletes the body of its water and contributes to dehydration. Sedentary lifestyle and lack of activity during Ramadan, as activity supports the movement of the bowel. Nutritional Tips to Avoid Constipation The below tips help avoid constipation, enrich the dishes with fiber and fluids, make the meals well balanced, add more nutrients, taste and flavor. Consume five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. These will provide your body with antioxidants, many vitamins and minerals, in addition to a good amount of fiber. Choose whole-wheat bread (rather than white) and fiber containing cereals (rather than refined). Fill the Samboosa with vegetables, beans or lentils, rather than meat, chicken or cheese. Add vegetables, legumes, or corn to rice and pasta dishes and soups, such as Mojadarah (lentil rice). Include salads such as Tabbouli, Fatoush, Hummus, Moutable, Baba Ganouch, beans, etc., at your Iftar and Sahoor meals and snacks. Include fiber rich soups, such as grains, vegetables or lentils at your Iftar and Sahoor meals and snacks. These will provide your body with fluids, fiber and many nutrients. Consume adequate fluids, such as water, vegetable juice, unsweetened fruit juice, low fat or nonfat milk, and fat free soups in your meals and snacks. Replace desserts with fresh fruits and make your desserts with whole-wheat flour and fruits.

Tips To Avoid Weight Gain

Fasting during Ramadan is a golden opportunity for weight loss. This can be accomplished since the total caloric intake is reduced and the efforts are made to increase the metabolic rate. There are too many positive lifestyle changes and dietary patterns that support weight-loss during Ramadan which can continue afterwards: Use little oil in cooking. Avoid fried food. Instead steam, bake or grill your food. Try baked Samboosa than fried; replace cream soup with whole grain or vegetable soups. Do not add oil/butter or ghee on the top of Harees or Jareesh. Limit meat portions to 5-6 ounces (same for fish or chicken). Replace sweets with fruits Limit dates to three pieces. Remember that each piece provides 20 calories. Use low fat/nonfat milk and dairy products. Replace Gishda (heavy cream) with low fat labnah. Use nonfat milk to make custard, mohalibiyah or pudding. Steam the rice; do not add oil to it. Nuts are healthy additions to any diet, but they are high in calories. So avoid or limit the amount of nuts added to food. Reduce sugar intake. Add only a small amount to your drinks to replace it with a sugar substitute. Consume fruits, vegetables, nonfat yogurt or laban for snacks. Do not consume a lot of carbohydrates. Mix your steamed rice with legumes or vegetables to add flavor, fiber, and to increase your satisfaction. Limit the amount of cooked rice or pasta to one cup. Increase your daily activity. Practice walking for 30-45 minutes/day, or take a swim, or go to the exercise room. Increase your water intake. Replace sweetened juices, Vimto, Gamardine (apricot nectar) with unsweetened juice or diet drinks if you wish. Increase the intake of vegetables and salads without adding oil or salad dressings.
Tips To Avoid Indigestion & Heart Burn

Many people may experience indigestion during Ramadan in particular after consuming Iftar meal where they have stomach upset with a burning feeling in the upper abdomen. Indigestion during Ramadan is not an illness, but it’s a temporary malfunction of the digestive system, related to unhealthy eating habits, over eating, eating fast, etc. Symptoms associated with indigestion: Some symptoms of indigestion are burning in the stomach or upper abdomen, heartburn, abdominal pain, bloating, belching and gas, nausea, vomiting, acidic taste and sometimes diarrhea. Causes of indigestion: Eating too much at the Iftar meal. Eating too fast without chewing or chewing with mouth open. Swallowing of air when eating. Eating fatty and spicy foods. Fatty foods stay in the stomach for longer time and cause the stomach to produce more acids. This causes heart burn and indigestion that last for 2-4 hours after consuming a fatty meal. Eating under stress. Smoking. Drinking too much of caffeinated and carbonated beverages, such as coffee, tea and cola. Tips for preventing indigestion: The best way to treat indigestion is to prevent it by avoiding the foods and situations that cause indigestion. Keeping a food diary is helpful in identifying foods causing indigestion. Avoid over eating. Eating small Iftar and Sahoor meals in addition to healthy snacks is a good technique. It is healthy to fill only 1/3 of your stomach with food and to keep 1/3 for fluids, and 1/3 for better breathing. Eat slowly and chew your food well. Try not to swallow too much air when eating. Reduce your intake of foods that contain high amounts of acids, such as citrus fruits. Avoid excessive consumption of caffeinated and carbonated drinks. Quit smoking, if you are a smoker, as smoking irritates the stomach lining. Avoid passive smoking as well. Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes as these tend to compress the stomach. Do not exercise with a full stomach. Rather, exercise at least one hour after eating your meal. Do not lie down right after eating your meal and wait at least 2 hours after your last meal before going to bed. Sleep with your head elevated (at least six inches) above your feet and use a pillow to prop yourself up. Practice relaxation. Drink fluids after the meals rather than with the meal. Avoid late-night eating. Reduce your consumption of fatty and spicy meals and replace creamy desserts with fresh fruits. Consult the doctor if you have: Chronic indigestion. Indigestion not related to eating. If your indigestion gets worse. If the indigestion is accompanied with vomiting or with blood in stools. If the indigestion is accompanied with any of the following: severe pain in the upper right abdomen, shortness of breath, sweating or pain radiating to the jaw, neck or arm.
Diabetes and Fasting
The Holy Month of Ramadan is a golden opportunity to take health care decisions, quit smoking for smokers, and achieve weight loss for obese people and better control for blood sugar and blood pressure. It is important that diabetic people consult their doctors before they begin to fast during Ramadan to help them control their blood sugar, avoid complications and achieve their health objectives. General Guidelines for Diabetic People during Ramadan

There is more than one type of diabetes. Some need only diet to control their blood sugar, while others need to take pills or insulin in addition to their special diets. Children and young patients with diabetes depend on daily insulin injections to control their blood sugar, where insulin doses and timing are scheduled to match with their meals. Generally, those patients are not advised to fast to avoid high or low blood sugar, which may cause coma and serious health problems. Patients who are on diet control need to speak to their doctors before fasting. If they would be allowed to fast, they have to follow the same calories, carbohydrates and meal plan, which includes three meals: (evening) Iftar, Fajr (Sahoor) and midnight. The Iftar meal should be taken right after sunset (not to be delayed) to avoid low blood sugar, while Sahoor meal should be eaten as close to Fajr (predawn), as permitted. Fasting diabetics who are on oral pills or insulin are advised to avoid exercise during daytime especially in the afternoon to avoid low blood sugar. Patients may exercise (walking) 1-2 hours after the Iftar meal for 30-45 minutes with doctors' approval. They should carry their diabetic ID cards along with a source of fast acting carbohydrate, such as three dates, to consume in case of a low blood sugar event (hypoglycemia). Diabetics on oral pills who used to take them once a day (long acting) are advised to speak to their doctors as they may change the timing of the pills. General, they are advised to have one tablet at Iftar time and just half at Sahoor time to avoid low blood sugar in the afternoon or daytime. Pregnant diabetics are advised not to fast to avoid low blood sugar, ketosis and other health problems. This might be dangerous and may put them and their babies at risk. It is very important to monitor blood sugar before meals and before taking oral medications or insulin, record the results and discuss them with the medical team. As mentioned, diabetics in Ramadan are advised to carry their Diabetic I.D. cards and some sugar cubes or dates to be used in case of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Some symptoms of hypoglycemia are: (tiredness, weakness, dizziness, shaking, headache, sweating, feeling cold and blurred vision). In case of hypoglycemia, patients are advised to discontinue fasting. With the doctors’ approval, patients on diuretics are advised to take them after Iftar meal rather than after Sahoor, to avoid dehydration and thirst during the daytime and other health problems. Nutritional tips during the Holy Month of Ramadan: Fasting during Ramadan helps to control blood sugar and achieve healthier body weight. The prescribed calories can be divided into three meals, as mentioned previously (Iftar, Midnight and Sahoor). Limit consuming fried foods. Steaming or baking is recommended to avoid consuming a lot of fat and calories. Vegetable soup/grain soups are recommended than cream soup to reduce the intake of fat, cholesterol and calories. Vegetable soup/grain soup is rich in fiber, antioxidants and low in fat and calorie. Meat should be lean and poultry should be skinless. Dates should be consumed in moderation. three pieces are equivalent to one serving of fresh fruit or 1/2 cup unsweetened fruit juice. Milk products are recommended to be low fat/nonfat to reduce the intake of fat, cholesterol and calories. Consume more vegetables (raw or cooked) in addition to fresh fruits. These are rich in fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants and low in salt, fat and cholesterol. Limit consumption of creamy and sweetened desserts and sugary drinks. Fresh fruits are recommended instead. Consume carbohydrates as prescribed in your diet plan. Carbohydrates are recommended to be complex, as these are rich in fiber in addition to their lower impact on blood sugar. One cup cooked Hareese (crushed wheat) may replace one cup of cooked rice. The allowed serving of lean meat or skinless chicken may be cooked with the Hareese. Better to bake Samboosa than fry it. Three pieces of Samboosa may replace the servings of lean meat and bread. Watch out food safety and avoid keeping food at room temperature more than 2 hours. Consult your dietitian to discuss the meal plan during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

Notes for a “Gluten Free” diet

A Gluten-Free diet is one completely free of gluten. Gluten is a protein found in rye, barley, oats and wheat. It is used for the people suffer from Celiac disease (a disease that affects the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food). Foods containing Gluten Basically any product that contains wheat, barely, oat, or rye will contain gluten, such as flour, cakes, pastries, pastas, breads, cereals, pizza crust, cookies, crackers, biscuits, some types of chocolate, ice creams, processed meats, sausages, nuggets, commercial soups thicken with starch, Harees, Jareesh, Margoog, Fatoush, Samboosa, and nonalcoholic beer. Meals without Gluten People on a gluten-free diet can fast safely and eat well-balanced meals without gluten. Plain meat, fish, poultry, rice, fruits, vegetables, potatoes, nuts, soy, beans, lentils, oils, corn and dairy products do not contain gluten, so people with celiac disease can eat these foods at their Iftar and Sahoor meals in addition to snacks. In the recipes; people with celic disease can substitute wheat flour with rice flour or soy flour or corn flour. They also can thicken their soups with potato or corn flour. On shopping; people with celic disease have to read the nutrition facts and ingredients’ list carefully and purchase gluten free foods. They can shop for the following: fresh fruits, unflavored milk and its products, vegetables, tuna, poultry, plain red meat, dried beans, lentils, peas, oils, corn flakes, potatoes, rice (brown or white), olives, tea, plain coffee, coco, spices, salt, pickles, sugar, honey, jam, fruit juice, rice noodles or macaroni. In social events; people with celic disease have to be careful when consuming mixed dishes, stews, desserts, soups and sauces. They should not hesitate to ask the event’s hosts or restaurant’s staff about the ingredients used. People with celic disease also can ask for gluten free meals when traveling by air.
Tips to avoid Food Waste during Ramadan

Ramadan is known as the month of generosity, peace, comfort and modesty, but for many families; they exceed the food budget by shopping and cooking a lot, and serving many dishes at the Iftar and Sahoor meals and banquets. The Islamic and health teachings recommend serving moderate amounts of foods and eating reasonably, avoiding overeating, obesity and food waste. Food waste is a violation of the concepts of Ramadan and a contradiction to the philosophy of fasting. In addition, food waste during Ramadan is accompanied with the waste of resources, such as water, electricity, fuel, time and effort; and is harmful to the health and environment. The following tips are helpful to reduce food waste during Ramadan. Healthy eating during Ramadan starts with proper planning for the Iftar and Sahoor menus in addition to banquets. Prepare your shopping list ahead of time, and try to shop after you break your fast, not during fasting hours, as you may purchase unnecessary food items when you are hungry. Store your food items properly and check expiry dates. Avoid commercials “buy one-get one free.” Don’t overstock your refrigerator or freezer and check the moisture in your dry storage area. Cook the meals by portions, based on your family members, or the number of invited people to your banquet. Cook less dishes and serve moderate portions. Use small plates when possible, especially for children. Turn food leftovers into new dishes for the next meals, such as making leftover rice as a rice salad or a rice soup. You can donate leftover food if you wish. Keep oil bottles in a cool and dry place and close them firmly to avoid getting rancid. Avoid buying large containers or bulk purchase of tomato paste or oil or other foods to avoid waste. Buy long shelf life products as they last longer.
Healthy and Safe Transition from Ramadan to ‘Id Days
The Holy Month of Ramadan was a great journey toward health and served many purposes. The people were hungry and thirsty, which reminded them of the suffering of the poor. They also benefited from practicing self-control, cleansing their bodies and minds, and achieved many health benefits. It was a real opportunity for taking many health care decisions and adapting to a healthier lifestyle that should be maintained after Ramadan. During the Holy Month of Ramadan, our bodies get used to a routine and a schedule for eating and sleeping that was difficult to adjust during the first few days. Then the days went smoother and our bodies adapted. Returning to pre-Ramadan schedules, dietary patterns, food habits, sleeping and awaking times, etc; may be difficult. After Ramadan when people change their dietary and sleep habits, some people may encounter health problems: indigestion, heart burn, constipation or diarrhea, vomiting, weight gain, etc. SAMSO’s Healthy Eating Strategy Advisory team says that there is a need to make a gradual transition between Ramadan days to after Ramadan days, by following these tips for safe and healthy ‘Id days: At the morning of the ‘Id day, take few pieces of dates to keep your blood sugar within normal level and to get some energy before you go to ‘Id prayer. Avoid chocolate or coconut coated dates as they contain fat, which may disturb your digestive system. Avoid consuming fatty and large breakfast meals as this may cause indigestion and heart burn. It’s better to have a light breakfast such as low fat or nonfat milk, unsweetened whole grain cereal or whole-wheat bread, low fat cheese or labnah with a serving of fresh fruit. Take a light snack at the mid-day of the ‘Id and include vegetables, grains, fruits and low fat laban or yogurt. For your lunch meals on the first few days of ‘Id, try to take them in the afternoon as close to Ramadan Iftar time, as possible. This will avoid any shock to your system. Make the meals low fat and avoid consuming a lot of meat and fatty dishes. Make your desserts light, mixed with fruits and made with whole-wheat flour. Keep your dessert portions moderate so you don’t consume too much. Limit your intake of sodas, sweetened drinks, salty nuts and fried foods. Drink plenty of water. Consult your doctor for any adjustment needed for your medications, as you may get the same pre-Ramadan medication timing and dosages. Enjoy Arabic coffee, as it is rich in antioxidants and low in caffeine. Consume with it few pieces of dates. Dates are healthy, rich in fiber, easily digested and absorbed and heart friendly as it does not contain fat or cholesterol. Dates are also rich in potassium, magnesium, iron and other vitamins and minerals. Include dates in your healthy deserts or mix them with nonfat yogurt or consume them with low fat or nonfat laban. Get back to your meals’ patterns as pre-Ramadan of consuming three healthy and light meals with 2-3 snacks. Watch out your caloric intake to avoid weight gain. Practice hand washing more often with water and soap and avoid consuming unsafe foods. Maintain your activity and enjoy your daily exercise with friends and family. Enjoy you social activities and visits with friends and relatives. Share the blessings with the elderly and children in their care centers.
Importance of Healthy Meals

Eat Well … Live Well!

To achieve the health objectives you set before Ramadan, make your decision to consume healthy meals as they are: Well-balanced. Contain all the needed nutrients by your body such as protein, vitamins and minerals. Rich in fiber. Rich in antioxidants. Support your mental health. Support your bone health. Lower your risk for heart disease. Lower your risk for diabetes. Lower your risk for cancer. Support your immunity. Enhance your safety. Support all your body organs to function well. Support your activity, work productivity and energy level. Support you in achieving your healthy body weight and avoiding obesity. Improve your quality of life. Help you live healthier and happier. In the recommended portions select the following healthy meals: Baked Samboosa filled with vegetables, lentils or low fat cheese, instead of fried Samboosa filled with fatty meat. Baked vegetable rolls instead of fried rolls filled with sausages. Baked, grilled or steamed lean meat, skinless poultry, or fish, instead of deep fried or broasted fatty meat, skin-on- poultry, or breaded fish. Low fat or nonfat vegetables or whole grain soups, such as mixed vegetables, lentils, barley or oats, instead of creamy soups. Steamed rice mixed with vegetables, lentils or brown rice, instead of fatty rice, such as greasy kabsa rice. Steamed brown pasta, or pasta mixed with vegetables or tomatoes, instead of mixed with white sauce (béchamel). Less sweetened puddings made with low fat or nonfat milk and mixed with fruits, instead of puddings made with full cream milk with a lot of sugar or syrup. Low fat or nonfat fruit yogurt or milk instead of flavored and sweetened full cream yogurt or milk. Low fat or nonfat milk and its products instead of full cream milk and its products. Low fat or nonfat labnah instead of Gishda. Unsweetened juices instead of sodas, sweetened drinks or nonalcoholic beer. Baked sweets made with whole-wheat flour and mixed with fruits, nuts and/or cinnamon, instead of fried sweets made with white flour and a lot of sugar, honey or syrup, such as Lugaimat, Qataief or Baklawa. Steamed, baked or grilled vegetables instead of fried. Lean meat, skinless poultry or fish or tuna packed in water, instead of fatty, canned or luncheon meat; tuna packed in oil; sausages or nuggets. Whole grains and unsweetened cereals instead of refined pastries made with white flour and sweetened cereals. Moderate amounts of healthy oils such as corn, sunflower, olive or canola, instead of butter, ghee, palm oil or coconut oil. Fat free air popcorn instead of buttered popcorn or chips. Moderate amounts of dates instead of chocolate or coconut coated dates. Mixed spices, garlic, vinegar or onion to flavor foods instead of adding a lot of salt.
Tips To Make Healthy And Heart Friendly Sweets

‘Id is a holy occasion that includes a lot of joy, happiness and sweets. But many of traditional and commercial sweets are made from white flour, syrup or sugar, butter or ghee, nuts and whole milk and its products. These ingredients make the sweets caloric dense, fatty, induce indigestion and heart burn, contribute to weight gain, increase blood sugar, and eventually increase the risks of some nutrition related diseases, and enhance the craving for consuming more sweets and in large amounts. The following tips from the SAMSO Healthy Eating Advisory Team will help you make ‘Id sweets healthier, lighter and heart friendly: Make the sweets in small portions. Reduce the fat and sugar in the recipe to half. Use low fat or nonfat milk and its products in the recipe than using full cream milk or cheese. Use more egg white than whole eggs. Replace each egg yolk with two egg whites. Bake or grill your sweets instead of frying. Add fresh or dried fruits instead of syrup or sugar. You can use noncaloric sweetener if you wish. Use healthy oils, such as corn oil or canola oil, in the recipe — but in moderation — instead of using butter or ghee. Replace half of the oil with apple sauce to give a soft texture and lower calories. Use whole-wheat flour instead of white. Top the sweets with slices of fresh fruits and little nuts, such as almond or walnuts, instead of icing the top or adding cream, chocolate or coconut. Reduce the nuts by half and add cinnamon instead. After the main meals, consume the sweets as snacks and eat them in moderation.


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