Tips for Healthy Eating in Ramadan

A clinical dietitian at Burjeer Hospital Abu Dhabi, Rahma Ali, says that suhoor should be wholesome. What people choose not to eat, or they eat, during Ramadan makes a big difference to their energy levels. There is often a temptation to load up and overeat on sugary beverages. However, this is a disservice. Individuals must make well-balanced Ramadan meals. They ought to have items from every food group. For example, fruits, dairy products, vegetables, meat, and cereals.

Fasting during Ramadan can improve everyone’s health. However, they should fast properly. Otherwise, it causes more harm than good. So, if people see a spread of appetizing food, they should have self-control. They must remember that Ramadan is a month to reap benefits, rewards, and increase spiritual connections.

Suhoor ought to give energy. So, this energy lasts during the fast. Significantly, the food someone consumes keeps them hydrated. So, everyone should pay attention to the food items during suhoor.

However, no one can ignore eating habits during Iftar. Therefore, it is important to break the fast with a balanced diet. It ensures that somebody meets the essential nutritional needs of his body. For instance, potassium and sodium. People lose them because of sweating*1. Here are the tips for healthy eating in Ramadan and effects on mental health:

What to Eat during Iftar:

  1. Potassium-rich Fruits:

Potassium is important for the proper function of body systems. It minimizes cramps, maintains electrolyte and fluid balance in bodies. Individuals must eat dark leafy greens, beans, squash, potatoes, yogurt, mushrooms, avocados, and bananas. They are high in potassium.

Dates are nutrient power-houses. They are a good source of potassium. Dates are excellent foods to break a fast, help hydrate, and give energy. They make everybody feel rejuvenated after the long hours of fasting*2. 

Tips for Healthy Eating in Ramadan and Effects on Mental Health

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Yogurt has probiotics that improve mental health. It lowers stress, depression, and anxiety. Individuals who eat leafy greens regularly have slower rates of cognitive decline.

Beans keep people full for a long time. They enable them to burn energy. So, they are essential for good mental health. They have thiamine. It is a vitamin. Everyone needs it to produce acetylcholine. It is a neurotransmitter that is important for memory*3.

Dates help secrete antidepressant hormones. They help brain cells to work better. People reach psychological stability. Dates make nervous and aggressive children calmer. They reduce depression and anxiety that women experience before menses. Dates fight the obsessive-compulsive disorder*4.

  • Sufficient Fluids:

Individuals ought to drink as much fruit juices or water as possible between bedtime and Iftar. This will avoid dehydration*5. If someone does not drink water, they get dehydrated, drained, and tired. They lack concentration, have headaches, and bad moods*6. Lemon water preps up moods. It relieves stress and depression*7.

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/sites/default/files/editor_files/2019/10/hydration-guide-main-image-700-350.jpg

Tips for Healthy Eating in Ramadan and Effects on Mental Health

  • Raw Nuts:

Almonds have good fats. Particularly, they are essential when bodies have been craving fats. That is to say, raw nuts are perfect for Iftar. And no one needs to binge. Moreover, they keep people in control and full*8.

For example, almonds have Vitamin B that is important for mental health. The amino acid tyrosine is a precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine. It has magnesium that contributes towards many enzymes. They enhance the power of the intense metabolic activity of brains. Whereas they have quercetin and other antioxidants. They protect brain cells from oxidative damage*9.

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Tips for Healthy Eating in Ramadan and Effects on Mental Health

  • Hydrated Vegetables:

Lettuce, cucumber, and other vegetables are high in water and fiber. They cool down bodies, avoid constipation, and keep skins healthy during Ramadan*10. Cucumbers have fisetin. These anti-inflammatory substances reduce the impact of age-related neurological diseases on brain function. They maintain cognitive functions in people with Alzheimer’s disease too*11.

https://www.organicfacts.net/wp-content/uploads/cucumber.jpg

Tips for Healthy Eating in Ramadan and Effects on Mental Health

What to Avoid During Iftar:

  • Carbonated Drinks:

People should avoid drinking processed beverages. They have excessive sugar. Carbonated drinks increase one’s risk of obesity and overweight. They cause gas, bloating, and indigestion. Everyone must stick to coconut water and regular water to quench their thirst*13.

https://www.globalvillagespace.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/soft-drinks-to-be-banned-in-schools.jpg

Individuals who drink more than half a liter of soft drinks daily have high risks of mental issues. For instance, stress-related problems, depression, suicidal idealization, and psychological distress*13.

  • High Sugar Foods:

People ought to avoid high sugar foods like chocolates and sweets. They have extremely less nutritional value, are high in calories, and contribute to weight gain. These cause health issues if someone consumes them every day*14.

https://c.ndtvimg.com/2019-04/fha99hs_dessert_625x300_27_April_19.jpg

Those who eat large amounts of sugar are at risk of schizophrenia and memory issues. They compromise on learning abilities. It is an addiction. Sugar does not cause anxiety. However, it worsens the symptoms of anxiety for somebody who cannot cope with stress*15.

  • Fried Foods:

Individuals should avoid fried and greasy foods like samosas, fried dumplings, and oily curries. They have excessive fat. Bodies store them as fat tissues. If people eat them after fasting, then they cause indigestion and acidity*16. Unhealthy foods cause severe or moderate psychological distress. For example, everyone linkstastes fried foods to depression*17.

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     What to Eat During Suhoor:

  1. Protein-rich foods:

Nature has filled eggs with nutrients like protein. They help individuals to stay full for longer. People can make them in many ways to suit their tastes*18.

https://www.incredibleegg.org/recipe/basic-scrambled-eggs/

Eggs have choline. This nutrient produces neurotransmitters everybody calls acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter impacts the portions of the brain that reduce stress and regulate moods. If someone does not have enough blood level choline, then they become anxious. Eggs have vitamin D. It eases depression and anxiety*19.

  • Fiber-rich foods:

Individuals need fiber during suhoor. Soluble fiber turns to gel in the stomach. It slows digestion and helps people to lower blood glucose and cholesterol. So, they are energized throughout their fast*20. Fruits and vegetables beat stress and anxiety*21.

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What to Avoid During Suhoor:

  • Caffeinated Drinks:

Coffee has caffeine. It causes restlessness and insomnia. Coffee keeps people longing for water the whole day. It does not hydrate*22. The overuse of caffeine causes jitters, troubled sleep, and irritability*23.

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Hence, everyone can follow these tips for healthy eating in Ramadan for mental health benefits.

  1. https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/wellbeing/the-best-foods-to-eat-and-avoid-during-iftar-and-suhour-1.14397
  2. https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/wellbeing/the-best-foods-to-eat-and-avoid-during-iftar-and-suhour-1.14397
  3. https://anzmh.asn.au/2018/04/19/foods-mental-health-wellness/
  4. https://munwradates.store/en/blog-section/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%B1,%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%B1%20%D9%88%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A9%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%86%D9%81%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A9
  5. https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/wellbeing/the-best-foods-to-eat-and-avoid-during-iftar-and-suhour-1.14397
  6. https://doulton.com/drinking-water-good-mental-health/
  7. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/home-remedies/Top-10-advantages-of-lemon-in-water/articleshow/19214176.cms
  8. https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/wellbeing/the-best-foods-to-eat-and-avoid-during-iftar-and-suhour-1.14397
  9. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201606/nuts-you
  10. https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/wellbeing/the-best-foods-to-eat-and-avoid-during-iftar-and-suhour-1.14397
  11. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/health-benefits-of-cucumbers_b_8231704
  12. https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/wellbeing/the-best-foods-to-eat-and-avoid-during-iftar-and-suhour-1.14397
  13. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/41027464_Soft_drink_consumption_and_mental_health_problems_among_adults_in_Australia
  14. https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/wellbeing/the-best-foods-to-eat-and-avoid-during-iftar-and-suhour-1.14397
  15. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201309/4-ways-sugar-could-be-harming-your-mental-health
  16. https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/wellbeing/the-best-foods-to-eat-and-avoid-during-iftar-and-suhour-1.14397
  17. https://psychcentral.com/news/2019/02/22/unhealthy-diet-linked-to-poor-mental-health/143117.html
  18. https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/wellbeing/the-best-foods-to-eat-and-avoid-during-iftar-and-suhour-1.14397
  19. https://www.cleaneatingmag.com/clean-diet/7-foods-to-ease-stress-and-soothe-anxiety
  20. https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/wellbeing/the-best-foods-to-eat-and-avoid-during-iftar-and-suhour-1.14397
  21. https://www.nhs.uk/news/mental-health/high-fibre-diet-may-help-relieve-stress-and-anxiety/
  22. https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/wellbeing/the-best-foods-to-eat-and-avoid-during-iftar-and-suhour-1.14397
  23. https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2015/11/coffee

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