Healthy fasting tips for Ramadan

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We spoke to Dr Farouk Haffejee about some of the things you can do while fasting during Ramadan…

Millions of Muslims around the world are fasting for Ramadan.

They will not be able to eat any food or drink liquids during daylight hours.

Fasting is compulsory for all Muslims, but exceptions are made for the terminally ill and elderly. Exceptions are also made for small children, pregnant woman, breastfeeding mothers and the sick if fasting will be detrimental to their health.

Dr Farouk Haffejee, from the Islamic Medical Association of South Africa, says it is important to eat the right foods during your pre-dawn meal.  

“Because of the long days with no food and no water, it becomes very important for correct foods to be eaten in the morning and proper hydration.  These foods should consist of Complex carbohydrates (foods made with brown flour, brown rice, and little sugar) which digest longer, together with protein foods (meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, soya products, lentils, legumes, peanut butter, etc) which also digest very slowly over the day.”

ALSO READ: Delicious recipes to break the fast with during Ramadan

Good fats like olive oil, olives, non-hydrogenated margarines and avocado can also be eaten. Dr Haffejee says hydration is very important.

“The fasting day must start with the body well hydrated.  Consuming a high refined carbohydrate diet in the morning will result in hunger felt very early in the day.”

Here are some other tips from Dr Haffejee:  

Consuming tea and coffee which have a diuretic effect (water loss) should be excluded in the morning meal, if possible, as they will drain the body of valuable water through the day.  It should be replaced with a milk drink which will provide added proteins which will be helpful through the day. 

Eating a heavy meal, eating too fast without proper chewing or over-eating at the evening meal will affect the evening prayer, as digestion will take place during the prayer, resulting in a bloated feeling, indigestion, flatulence and heartburn. 

Refined carbohydrates should be consumed in small amounts, more for taste than as food.

– Special attention should be focused on proper hydration overnight.

If you have Muslim friends or colleagues, you can also help get through the day.

Dr Haffejee says choosing not to eat or drink in front of fasting colleagues is a good way to support them.  

If you will be fasting this Ramadan, it might be a good idea to ask your boss if you could adjust your working hours during the period.

“Because of the low energy experienced towards the end of the day which may affect work performance, special arrangements should be made by employers to allow fasting people to start earlier in the day and finish early or reschedule non-urgent work that can be postponed to after Ramadan.”