First of all, from all of us at Community Health Ambassadors, we wish a Blessed Ramadan to all of our Muslim friends and readers, as well as to our wonderful Ambassadors Agram and Amanna.
Now, for those of you observing the fast, it’s very important that you do it safely and put your health first. We have assembled for you some tips to help you through:
-Don’t break your fast with a feast; as it can lead to unwanted weight gain. Instead, have two balanced meals; at dawn and at dusk.
–You still need a balanced diet! Make sure you eat your fruit&veg, wholesome starches and protein! (The Eatwell plate still applies- 1/3 of what you eat should be fruits and vegetable, 1/3 should be good, slow-release carbs like rice, wholemeal pasta or potatoes, and the other 1/3 is divided between some meat/pulses/protein, some milk/dairy and only a tiny bit of foods high in fat and sugar)
-Have at least two meals a day – the pre-dawn meal (Suhoor) and a meal at dusk (Iftar). Milk with cereals (porridge, granola etc.), unsalted nuts (in moderation), fresh fruit and wholemeal toast make good Iftar choices. For Suhoor, go with chicken or fish, brown rice, beans or pulses, salad, hummus; and treat yourself to some dried fruits (dates are traditional).
-Complex carbohydrates are foods that help release energy slowly ; you can find them in foods such as barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour and basmati rice.They’re good for you in general, but if you’re fasting throughout the day you may need them more than ever!
-Fibre-rich foods (bran, cereals, whole wheat, grains and seeds, potatoes with the skin on, vegetables such as green beans, and almost all fruit, including apricots, prunes and figs) are also digested slowly .They’ll keep you full while you fast.
-On the other hand, heavily processed fast food items that contain refined carbohydrates (sugar and white flour) and fats are fast-burning: which means that not only are they bad for you, but they’ll only make you hungry mid-fast and mess with your blood sugar levels.
– Hydrate yourself well as soon as you break fast; a big glass of natural fruit juice is good. A big glass of water and a nice bowl of fruit salad (no sugar added, especially if you use naturally sweet fruits) is even better. Plus, by drinking water to your thirst as soon as you break fast you reduce your chances of overeating. Drink plenty of water throughout the non-fasting times, to get you through the fasting hours without becoming de-hydrated.
-On the other hand, avoid caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee, cola): on the long run, they de-hydrate you
-Stay away from deep-fried foods, sugary rassgulah and oily curries; swap them for baked samosas, no-oil chappatis,single-layer pastries and milk-based sweets.
-Some people have found Ramadan to be a good time for giving up smoking and other unhealthy habits; why not give it a try? Abstaining from cigarettes during the day may just be the thing to give you confidence that you can abstain at all times! Smoking Cessation services may help you.
-During the day, be aware of the signs of dehydration.If you produce very little or no urine, feel disoriented and confused, or faint due to dehydration, you must stop fasting and have a drink of water or other fluid. Islam doesn’t require you to harm yourself in fulfilling the fast. (You can always make up the fast at a later date).
– If you take medicine for indigestion – such as antacids, antihistamines or proton pump inhibitors, continue taking them (the pre-dawn meal is a good time for it).
-If you’ve got low blood pressure (but are otherwise healthy),you can still fast; just be extra careful to keep hydrated and replenish your salts during non-fasting times.
SAFETY COMES FIRST!
-Don’t fast if you suffer from diabetes and take insulin for it!
If you suffer from diabetes and do not need insulin for it, you can still fast, but let your GP know in advance that you intend to; they may prescribe you tablets to help you deal.
If you fast while having non-insulino-dependent diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels throughout the day. Feeling dizzy, sweaty and disoriented may all suggest a hypo. If a person with diabetes has these symptoms, they should immediately have a sugary drink, or place sugar or a sugar-rich sweet below their tongue.Remember, Islam doesn’t require you to harm yourself in fulfilling the fast.
-If you have severe migraines triggered by not eating, don’t fast (also, talk to your GP about how you can manage them long-term)
-If you suffer from high blood pressure, let your GP know in advance that you intend to fast; adjustments to your medication may be needed.
-If you are receiving a blood transfusion in a hospital, you should not fast
-If you need to take regular medicine during daytime, don’t fast! If this medication is required as treatment for a short illness, you can compensate for missed fasts by fasting on other days when you are well. If you are on long-term medication, talk to your GP about whether you could change your medication, so that you can take it outside the time of the fast.
-Fasting for children under 7-8 is not advisable.
-If you are pregnant and don’t feel well enough to fast, don’t do it. Also, do not fast if you are breastfeeding.
-Don’t fast if you are on dyalisis.
(Remember: Islamic law allows you not to keep fast if you are in ill-health, breastfeeding or pregnant! If you don’t feel well enough to fast, or your GP thinks you shouldn’t fast, consider instead donating fidyah to a charity helping the poor and hungry).