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Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of prayer, reflection, and community. During this period, Muslims observe a strict daily fast from dawn until sunset. They are not allowed to eat or drink during daylight hours. It is common for those following Ramadan to have two main meals.
Suhoor takes place just before sunrise, whereby individuals fuel their bodies and prepare themselves for long hours of fasting. Directly after sunset, Iftar occurs, where you aim to renourish and hydrate your body before sleep. There are a number of physical changes that may take place during this period, including metabolic and hormonal alterations, blood glucose reductions, and decreases in body temperature. With only having a relatively short time period each day to eat and drink, the quality of your diet is especially important. Take a look at our nutritional tips below, to help ground your body through this period.
Caffeine is a drug that holds stimulant properties and has the ability to reduce fatigue and pain sensation in a majority of individuals. Although many mechanisms have been suggested for this, its ability to block the action of adenosine binding seems to be the most persuasive.
However, a potential side effect of regular caffeine intake is the introduction of headaches, especially when withdrawn from daily intakes. According to research, this is known as the ‘rebound effect’, whereby reducing your consumption of caffeine, something you may have become dependent on, may lead to more frequent and severe headaches. Fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and sleeplessness may also become more apparent.
With the above, it may be wise to try and reduce caffeine intake in the days prior to Ramadan to help optimise sleep quality and overcome these headaches. Hydrating well at both Iftar and Suhoor will also be key to minimising fatigue and headaches. Splitting fluid goals so it does not reduce appetite, as well as ensuring you take fluid with you to congregational prayers, could also help.
Like with any health and fitness goal, there is never an ‘optimal’ meal or food you should be consuming in your habitual diet, but looking at the nutritional quality of food should be a consideration, especially during Ramadan. Nailing the basics below will help to ensure increased energy, satiation, digestion, and adequate micronutrient intake!
30g of fibre per day
0.3g/kg of protein in each meal
3 colours on every plate
Mindful eating is an approach to food that focuses on an individual’s sensual awareness and their experience of the food, rather than the nutritional composition of each meal. Successful mindful eating has been shown to be beneficial in an individual's weight loss journey, by reducing binge eating periods and disordered eating behaviours.
Practicing mindful eating is something that all people could benefit from. During Ramadan, many tend to inhale their meal during Iftar in a short time span, leading to sluggish and bloated feelings. Take a look at our tips below to see how you can incorporate this method during both Suhoor and Iftar:
Slow down when eating - Chew your food well and take time to pause during your meal by putting your cutlery down between each mouthful. This can help enjoy and appreciate the taste of your food more, and allow your body to recognise when it is full.
Avoid distractions - Allow to enjoy all your food and drink at the moment, by reducing distractions such as your phone, TV, laptop, or book.
Reflect on your thoughts and feelings - There is reasoning beyond physical hunger as to why we eat, and it’s important we tune in with them. What drives your hunger?
Don’t obsess over being perfect. Enjoy fun foods intentionally. Mindset is key!
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