Fasting during the month of Ramadan can be good for one’s health and personal development. Ramadan fasting is not just about disciplining the body to restrain from eating food and drinking water from predawn until sunset. The eyes, the ears and the tongue are equally obligated to be restrained if a Muslim wants to gain the total rewards of fasting. Ramadan is also about restraining anger, doing good deeds, exercising personal discipline, and preparing oneself to serve as a good Muslim and a good person during and after Ramadan.
Ramadan fasting has spiritual, physical, psychological, and social benefits; however, manmade problems may occur, if fasting is not properly practiced. First of all, there is no need to consume excess food at iftar (the food eaten immediately after sunset to break fast), dinner or sahur (the light meal generally eaten about half an hour to one hour before dawn). The body has regulatory mechanisms that activate during fasting. There is efficient utilization of body fat, metabolism slows down during Ramadan fasting. A diet that is less than a normal amount of food intake but just as balanced is sufficient enough to keep a person healthy and active during the month of Ramadan.
Diet During Ramadan:
1. Bread/Cereal/Rice, Pasta, Biscuits and Cracker Group: 6-11 servings/day
2. Meat/Beans/ Nut Group: 2-3 servings/ day.
3. Milk and Milk Product Group: 2-3 servings/day.
4. Vegetable Group: 3-5 servings/day;
5. Fruit Group: 2-4 servings/day.
6. Added sugar (table sugar, sucrose): sparingly.
7. Added fat, polyunsaturated oil 4-7 table spoons.
*Drink sufficient water between Iftar and sleep to avoid dehydration.
*Consume sufficient vegetables at meals. Eat fruits at the end of the meal.
*Avoid intake of high sugar (table sugar, sucrose) foods through sweets or other forms.
*Avoid caffeine drinks such as coke, coffee or tea. Three days to five days before Ramadan gradually reduce the intake of these drinks. A sudden decrease in caffeine prompts headaches, mood swings and irritability.
*Smoking is a health risk factor. Avoid smoking cigarettes. If you cannot give up smoking, cut down gradually starting a few weeks before Ramadan. Smoking negatively affects utilization of various vitamins, metabolites and enzyme systems in the body.
*Normal or overweight people should not gain weight. For overweight people Ramadan is an excellent opportunity to lose weight. Underweight or marginally normal weight people are discouraged from losing weight. Analyzing a diet’s energy and nutritional component, using food composition tables or computer software, will be useful in planning an appropriate diet.
*It is recommended that everyone engage in some kind of light exercise, such as stretching or walking. It’s important to follow good time management practices for Ibada (prayer and other religious activities), sleep, studies, job, and physical activities or exercise.
Is a month of self-regulation and self-training, with the hope that this training will last beyond the end of Ramadan.
If the lessons learned during Ramadan, whether in terms of dietary intake or righteousness, are carried on after Ramadan, it is beneficial for one’s entire life. Moreover, the type of food taken during Ramadan does not have any selective criteria of crash diets such as those which are protein only or fruit only type diets. Everything that is permissible is taken in moderate quantities.