13 years ago I had my first Ramadan and it feels like yesterday. The first year I fasted I had to work and Oh boy how hard that was! I remember rushing to buy my Iftar(meal to break the fast) and being half dead while attempting to do so. I think I broke my fast everyday with a subway sandwich, doritos and couple of macadamia cookies. Fast forward to now and how things have changed. This year I will have 2 fasting children In my household so hopefully fingers crossed we will be able to eat yummy healthy food.
Ramadan is one of those things you miss once is over and can't wait till next year to do it all over again. Although we abstain from food, bad habits,sexual intercourse (sunup to sundown) it is a month of reflection,patience and submission. It is a way to get connected with everyone around the globe, because they are muslims in every corner, with more than a billion of us around the world doing the same things at the same time it is really a humbling experience.
So lets get into food, yes food plays a very important role in Ramadan because for some of us food is what we love and what we can't keep out of our minds. Developing healthy habits during Ramadan is key for having a good Ramadan, if you fill your stomach with sugars,fried food, salty foods etc you will end up in this road that you do not want to take. I like to plan my meals ahead of time that way I don't have to stress what to cook the same the day, that actually ensures that I will be eating good food. Everyone is different and we all experience things in a different way, so you really have to listen to your body and see what is best for you.
Suhoor (pre-dawn meal)
A perfect suhoor meal that will make sure your whole day is filled with energy needs to contain slow energy releasing foods; these include wholegrain foods, fruits and vegetables as they have complex carbs and fiber that will make you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Oatmeal with some seeds, fruits and nuts. smoothie with added protein, or toast topped with seeds,nuts and peanut butter are great ideas to start the day with. Make sure you include up to 2 cups of water with this meal.
Warm Seed Mush (serves 2)
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup of chia seeds
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 tsp of cinammon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1-1/2 cups of almond/coconut milk
- dried cranberries
- 1 sliced banana
Add all the ingredients to a pot minus the cranberries and the banana, turn the heat to medium stir until warm but not boiling.Remove from the stove, serve in bowls and top with the cranberries and banana and other fresh fruit of your preference.
Iftar (evening meal)
At the end of the day when the day sets we will break our fast with dates and water like it has been done for hundreds of years. This experience is magical, specially for a muslim convert. I did grew up having family diners but nothing quite like this. Thanking God for every single bite and then realizing how lucky we are to even have the opportunity to break our fast with water and food...and lots of it. Some people will not be that fortunate and thats the beauty of Ramadan, puts it all in perspective.
I break my fast with dates and water every single day. Dates are high in sugar, protein and, when fresh, Vitamin C. They also contain potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber, fat and carbohydrates. Dates are easily digested, making them a quick source of energy and nutrients. And, eating dates after a long day of fasting can help a body’s blood glucose levels quickly return to normal and will prepare your body for the food to come.
It is so easy to over eat once you break your fast,but if you follow this simple guidelines I will ensure you won't.
Start with a soup a chicken or beef stock with some cut up veggies, then followed by a salad with lots of greens, variety of colors,seeds,nuts and a home made dressing. Then a protein and a complex carbohydrate (grains,legumes,dairy)
f you crave something sweet try all types of berries (strawberries,blueberries,raspberries) with some kefir or yogurt ( keep an eye for sugar content) and some variety of nuts sprinkled on top. Other option? A bite of raw chocolate or chia pudding, simple treats that will fulfill your cravings without lots of sugar and lots of guilt.
Getting hydrated during Ramadan can be a very difficult task for many. Some just don't have a water drinking habit so drinking those 8 cups a day can be incredibly hard, specially when we don't even think about water... we just go straight for coffee.
Coming with a plan to ensure those 8 cups is very important that way you can hold yourself accountable and keep track of them. Heres's how to do it!
- 2 cups at iftar
- 2 cups after maghrib
- 2 cups after taraweh
- 2 cups at suhoor
Stay away from carbonated drinks and sodas, they will make you more thirsty, offer you zero nutritional value and delay the digestion process.
If you can't have water straight up try to add some fruit or veggies, you will get nutritional value, no sugars,no excess calories and no artificial flavorings.
DO NOT be a couch potato during Ramadan! Stay active while you are fasting and after breaking your fast.
For some working out right after iftar is best, for some after taraweh. Try the first days to see which schedule works for you and workout 4-5 days every week. Boosting your metabolism by working out is a great way to maintain your weight and boost your energy!
You can walk/jog/run or try relaxing routines like barre3 which is my favorite or yoga you will find those 2 to be incredibly helpful after a long day of fasting. Then the cooking and cleaning up can be exhausting specially for us moms, so take 30 minutes for some me time.
Hopefully after this month you have opted for healthier options that you can carry on forward and apply in your every day life and in the Ramadans to come.
Hope all of you have a blessed Ramadan and a happy Eid.