Ramadan is the Holy Month that Muslims from all walks of life observe. It is a time of fasting and blessings. It brings with it a host of special customs, of which food habits and eating play a big part.
In the Bangladesh scene, Iftar food attractions are elaborate. Restaurants will be vying for their customers' attention with extravagant platter after another. While the attractions at Puran Dhaka take the crown for holding up traditions and would accumulate its usual crowd.
Eating during Ramadan is also about following the right habits for a balanced Iftar. We've all been there – doubled over in pain and grogginess after eating five too many alu paratha, chased down with some zesty borhani, followed by a generous bowl of haleem and all the boras and chops. 'Tis the season of such foods right? Overindulging during iftar is to be expected – it has become a tradition; our iftars rarely exclude these items – and so we end up feeling like a bloated, gassy, hungover mess after iftar and rarely able to be productive. We tend to go overboard with food preparations and forget to actually treat our body well after 14 plus hours of fasting.
Enjoy these Ramadan treats, but try to control the size of your portion to stay healthy and prevent weight gain. During Ramadan, it’s important to make sure our meals are nutritious and full of easily digestible ingredients. Fresh fruit, vegetables, and fish are great to keep hydrated and avoid that lethargic bloated feeling. Iftar is the time you replenish energy levels. It is important to consume foods from all major food groups to ensure a balanced Iftar.
Remember that Iftar and Suhoor help sustain your fast the following day, so consuming the right food is important. And one of the most important and right food are fruits. Since fruits are rich in fiber, they are essentials during fasting as they increase the feeling of fullness and help prevent constipation. They also contain vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are vital for good health. Not to mention fruits contain lots of fluid which we need after fasting for a long day. It is recommended to have 2 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit per day, according to several health boards.
An Iftar consisting of only fried options could prove too hazardous. If you can change your Iftar habit to include a host of fruits and vegetables, you might see an advantage in the long run. After all, the essence of Ramadan lies in breaking away from old habits and obtaining the right ones through sustenance and preservation.
Breaking fast with fruits, yogurt and lots of cooling fluids like sherbets or fruit smoothies is the best way to go. This will give your stomach some time to process and will ensure proper functioning. Then go on to your main course after a while, because when combined with minerals, fats, and proteins present in other foods, it can hinder digestion.
We have to remember that Iftar (and Suhoor) help sustain our fast the following day. So consuming the right food is important. Since fruits are rich in fiber, they increase the feeling of fullness and help prevent constipation. Hence, fruits and vegetables are essentials during fasting.
They also contain vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are vital for good health. Not to mention fruits contained lots of fluid which we need after fasting for a long day. A daily dose of fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Hence developing the habit of fruits at Iftaar will keep illness at bay!
Diets rich in fruits can also have a positive effect on blood sugar which can help keep appetite in check and prevent eating further after Iftar. One to two and a half cups of fruits are recommended each day, depending on how many calories you need. For diabetics patients, this could prevent a drop in sugar levels - which is common - after hours of fasting.
1. Pomegranate – These are staples during this season. It is tasty, versatile and a great source of vitamins. It is three times more powerful than green tea as an antioxidant. Heavy gastric reactions during Ramadan are common. Hence pomegranates should work to reduce it. As pomegranate is great for digestion as well, be sure to have a glass of pomegranate juice after Iftar.
2. Eggplant – Though it’s not a fruit, eggplants prove to be a versatile vegetable, this fills your hunger and also hydrates you. But the way we go about eating it is harmful. “Beguni” or fried in lentil batter eggplants are constants at one’s Iftar table. However, the downside it presents is the fact that it is deep fried in oil. Eggplants made up of 92% water. This hydrating vegetable is also rich in vitamin B, potassium, and folic acid and antioxidant compounds. Keep things low fat and grill thinly sliced eggplants for a great side at your Iftar.
3. Cucumber – One of the best hydrating foods is cucumber, composed of 96% water. What’s more, cucumber is cholesterol and saturated fat-free, packed with vitamins K, B6 and iron. A Ramadan must, add to salads, or make your own yogurt mix.
4. Banana – It is easy to digest and a specific enzyme in bananas actually speeds up the digestion process, to boot. Bananas are also a great source of energy, helping to reduce stress, improve your mood and cure ulcers and heartburn. A must eat fruit for Ramadan, add to a fresh fruit salad for after Iftar.
5. Dates – Traditionally during Ramadan, dates a common staple at Iftar; it symbolizes the breaking of the fast. Besides being an excellent source of energy, dates are also rich in potassium – helping muscles and nerves to function well.
6. Mango - As the 'queen of fruits', Mangoes are widely found in tropical areas of the world. Fresh mango is a very rich source of potassium, which is an important component of cell and body fluids. It helps control the heart rate and blood pressure.
7. Litchi - Lychee or "Litchi" are delicious and juicy, and signals in the arrival of summer. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and contains a very good amount of minerals like potassium and copper.
For Ramadan this year around, not only do we have to fight the raging hunger inside us but also the raging heat wave and the consequent dehydration that would come with it. The day without water makes you feel light headed and every sip of the drink refreshes your senses and quenches your thirst. The weather is hot and you lose more water in the form of sweat.
A nutritious drink can help you to regain your energy at the time of Iftar. These days, e-commerce sites such as Khaas Food brings to you adulteration, additives, and chemical free pure food at your doorstep. Their selection of juices will make consuming fruits even easier if the actual fruits are not to your tastes.
(This story was commissioned by Khaas Food and developed by Storylab, Future Startup’s in-house branded content studio. You can learn more here.)