Drawing input in accordance with the Sunna (the practices of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) and modern research findings, a simple and healthy dietary plan is given below:
1. Bread/Cereal/Rice, Pasta, Biscuits and Cracker Group: 6-11 servings/ per-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.
Juice, 1 serving (4 oz.)
Vegetable soup with some pasta or graham crackers, 1 cup
The body's immediate need at the time of iftar is to get an easily available energy source in the form of glucose for every living cell, particularly the brain and nerve cells. Dates and juices are good sources of sugars. Dates and juice in the above quantity are sufficient to bring low blood glucose levels to normal levels fairly quick. Juice and soup help maintain water and mineral balance in the body. An unbalanced diet and too many servings of kuih and sweets with added sugar have been found to be unhealthy.
Consume moderately foods from all the following food groups:
Meat/Bean Group: Chicken, beef, lamb, goat, fish, 1-2 servings (serving size = a slice =1 oz); green pea, chickpea (garbanzo, humus), green gram, black gram, lentil, lima bean and other beans, 1 serving (half cup). Meat and beans are a good source of protein, minerals, and certain vitamins. Beans are a good source of dietary fiber, as well.
Rice/Bread/Cereal Group: A serving of rice roughly the portion of a Chinese bowl, whole wheat bread, or you may put both in a moderate combination. This group is a good source of complex carbohydrates, which are a good source of energy and provide some protein, minerals, and dietary fiber.
Milk Group: Milk or butter-milk (lassi without sugar), yogurt or cottage cheese (one cup). Those who can not tolerate whole milk must try fermented products such as butter-milk and yogurt or even soya milk. If you have sinus problem, go easy on the buttermilk. Milk and dairy products are good sources of protein and calcium, which are essential for body tissue maintenance and several physiological functions.
Vegetable Group: Mixed vegetable salad, 1 serving (one cup), (lettuce, carrot, parsley, cucumber, broccoli, coriander leaves, cauliflower or other vegetables as desired.) Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil or any polyunsaturated oil and 2 spoons of vinegar. Polyunsaturated fat provides the body with essential fatty acids and keto acids. Cooked vegetables such as beans, French beans, okra (kacang bendi or bhindi), eggplant (terung), bottle gourd (peria), cabbage, spinach, 1 serving (4 oz). Vegetables are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, carotene, lycopenes, and other phytochemicals, which are antioxidants. These are helpful in the prevention of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and many other health problems.
Fruits Group: 1-2 servings of citrus and/or other fruits. Eat fruits as the last item of the dinner or soon after dinner, to facilitate digestion and prevent many gastrointestinal problems. Citrus fruits provide vitamin C. Fruits are a good source of dietary fiber. If you are taking Vitamin C, you may try the C Complex kind, as it packs in more nutrients over the base Ascorbic Acid only C.
Fruits and mixed nuts may be eaten as a snack after dinner or before sleep. You may also try fruity muesli bars for a quick snack on the go as you head out for terawih prayers.
Pre-dawn Meal (Sahur):
Please do try and consume a light sahur. Eat whole wheat or oat cereal or whole wheat bread, 1-2 serving with a cup of warm milk. Add 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil or any other monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats in a salad or the cereal. Eat 1-2 servings of fruits, as a last item. You may just make a really nice sandwich with fresh Bolognese and Afalfa, fresh tomatoes, fresh salads and mayonnaise. You may eat 1 or 2 servings of these. But go easy on the mayo as it contains vinegar, and acidic intake is a must watch during Ramadan.
Blood cholesterol and uric acid levels are sometimes briefly elevated during the month of Ramadan, and contrary to popular thinking, it was found that intake of a moderately high-fat diet, around 36% of the total energy (calories), improved blood cholesterol profile. It also prevents the elevation of blood uric acid level! The normal recommended guideline for fat is 30% or less energy. On weight basis, suggested fat intake during Ramadan is almost the same as at normal days. Fat is required for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and carotenoids. So please do eat as you would always do during Ramadan, don’t cut down on anything normal without a good reason or medical advice. Remember, Ramadan is not a crash diet period. Go at it normally and the waist result would astound you!
Essential fatty acids are an important component of the cell membrane. They also are required for the synthesis of the hormone prostaglandin. Keto-acids from fat are especially beneficial during Ramadan to meet the energy requirement of brain and nerve cells. Keto-acids also are useful in the synthesis of glucose through the metabolic pathway of gluco-neo-genesis. This reduces the breakdown of body proteins for better glucose synthesis. Therefore, the energy equivalent of 1-2 bread/cereal servings may be replaced with a polyunsaturated fat if available.
During Ramadan increased gastric acidity is often noticed, exhibiting itself with symptoms such as a burning feeling in the stomach, a heaviness in the stomach, and a sour mouth. Whole wheat bread, vegetables, beans, and fruits – all excellent sources of dietary fiber helping to trigger muscular action, churning and mixing food, breaking food into small particles, binding bile acids, opening the area between the stomach and the deudenum-jejunum and moving digesta in the small intestine. Thus, dietary fiber helps reduce gastric acidity and excess bile acids. In view of dietary fiber's role in moving digesta, it could be established that it does indeed prevents constipation. It's strongly suggested that peptic ulcer patients avoid spicy foods and consult a doctor for appropriate medicine and diet.
Diabetic subjects, particularly severe type I (insulin dependent) or type II (non-insulin dependent), must consult their doctor for the type and dosage of medicine, and diet and precautions to be taken during the month. For type I insulin dependant, on the advice of your doctor you may have to alter your insulin mix (between Monotard and Actrapid) and you may also have to perfectly time your insulin intake and food intake at iftar. Do not syringe in the insulin from home if you are breaking fast out side say at a hotel or buffet. You may have problem with KL traffic, getting parking and getting a table and finally getting food to feed your insulin filled body! Always go earlier, get a good table, get the food ready and then you jab in the insulin and time it perfectly on your watch to iftar timing. Try talking to your doctor about using the “Pen” syringe kind, over the normal plastic single use only needle and syringe. That would make it easier and more safely hygienic. Remember this: Always spare with you throughout the whole day a serving of fresh red apples, muesli bars, maybe a Mars Bar and 2 bottles of mineral water. If you begin to feel light, chances are you have accidentally gone hypo over activities. So calmly sit down and munch on the food spared. Do not lose this life saving spare kit! PLEASE CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE COMMENCING RAMADAN.
Pregnant and Lactating women
Pregnant and lactating women's needs for energy and nutrients are more critical than the needs of men. There is a possibility of health complications to the pregnant woman and the fetus or the lactating mother and the breastfed child, if energy and nutrient requirements are not met during the month of Ramadan. Governments, communities, and heads of the family must give highest priority to meet women's dietary needs.
Malnutrition and strenuous conditions may lead to medical problems and danger to life.
Under these conditions one must consult a medical doctor for treatment and maulana or shiekh for postponement or other suggestions regarding fasting. Quran Al-Hakeem and Hadith allow pregnant women and lactating mothers flexibility during the month of Ramadan. There are other ways to make up for it ladies.
Drink sufficient water between Iftar and sleep to avoid dehydration. this would be felt more on the middle of the 1st week of Ramadan as the body is adjusting to the new cycle. So always drink plenty of liquid. Try homemade barley juice drinks!
Consume sufficient vegetables at meals. Eat fresh fruits at the end of the meal.
Avoid intake of high sugar (table sugar, sucrose) foods through kuih, sweets or other forms.
Avoid spicy foods all together if you could. Acar, just dab slightly into it if you must.
Avoid caffeine drinks such as coke, coffee or tea. Caffeine is a diuretic. 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. This is hard to do, but if you could do it, would be beneficial in a big way for you.
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. Quit smoking all together!
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. Don’t skip on your required daily intake requirements.
It is recommended that everyone engage in some kind very of light pleasant exercise, such as stretching or walking. But sometimes, we already achieve this at work on our feet ;) It's perhaps just to highlight on the importance to follow good time management practices.
In summary, intake of a balanced diet is critical to maintain good health, sustain an active lifestyle and attain the full benefits of Ramadan. Moderation, patience and submission best sums it up.
HAPPY RAMADAN GOOD PEOPLE :)