Many people complain about health problems during Ramadan due to improper nutrition. Yet it is easy enough to eliminate these disturbances in the morning and evening hours by paying attention to a few important points.
In particular, it is important to avoid overeating and eating heavy foods that will burden the stomach during the evening (iftar) and morning (sahur) meals. If possible, iftar should be divided into two. It is essential to get up for sahur and to also drink water on a frequent basis between iftar and sahur, even if one does not feel thirsty.
In the event of insufficient fluid intake combined with increased sweating under the effect of the heat, the body loses fluids and minerals, and health problems such as faintness, nausea and dizziness can be experienced in association with this.
One should also avoid suddenly loading the stomach up at iftar and sahur, as this may give rise to sudden rises in blood pressure after eating. Eating too much in the evening due to feelings of hunger can cause hyperglycemia - a rise in blood sugar, in other words.
Therefore, boiled foods, and vegetables cooked in olive oil should be preferred for iftar, and fried, smoked or roasted foods should be avoided.
One must not eat too fast. Food should be eaten slowly and chewed well.
Instead of loading large portions onto one’s plate all at once, it is better to eat small portions at specific intervals after iftar.
One should move about if possible after iftar, and short walks should be taken.
That represents a summary of the points to be careful over during both sahur and iftar, though it will be useful to reiterate them: Fasting is an obligation on healthy people able to withstand the rigors of thirst and hunger. These points therefore depend on a person’s state of health, and medical advice should be sought when necessary.
POINTS TO BE TAKEN CARE OVER AT SAHUR
- It is essential to get up for sahur.
- Do not neglect to chew your food well at sahur.
- Try to eat things like raw vegetables, tomato and cucumber at sahur.
- Foods such as eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese delay feelings of hunger by prolonging gastric emptying. So do not neglect to eat these at sahur, but without overdoing it.
- Remember to drink lots of fluids.
POINTS TO TAKE CARE OVER AT IFTAR
- You can break your fast with water, olives or dates (up to three).
- Be careful to start with a warm, but not hot, light soup.
- An addition to soup, you can eat vegetables, with or without meat, as long as they are not too oily.
- Avoid fried foods.
- Try not to use too much salt.
- Be sure to have fruit and yogurt on the table.
- Try to avoid very sweet, fatty, heavy desserts.
- You can eat milky puddings and fruit for snacks between meals.
The obligation to fast, awaited as happy tidings by believers, is instrumental in people learning virtues such as patience, fortitude and submission. Someone who is determined to fast for Allah’s sake increases in self-confidence through these endeavors and the patience he displays for Allah’s sake and that is instrumental in making him even more determined and desirous of spreading the moral values of Islam. In this way, even someone who has never known want or difficulty can think rather more about the plight of the poor and hungry. That will make him more eager to help and care about others.
We can see the effects of this around us and in our own lower selves. Fasting, which Allah makes obligatory for all Muslims who are capable of it, is an observance with much wisdom. This act of observances increased the zeal and enthusiasm of Muslims all over the world and mass observance increases spirituality.
There is an amazing fertility in the month of Ramadan, which we are all aware of. Iftar meals are laid out for thousands of people in Ramadan tents every day. The needy are fed, and the homeless are sheltered. Neighbors help one another and offer one another things to eat. Everyone thinks of everyone else thanks to the material and spiritual fertility of Ramadan.
In fact, the mutual aid so often seen during Ramadan, the emphasis placed on the needs of others, can also be carried through into the other months of the year as well. That will lead to this fine virtue being a strong component of society.
The wisdom behind Ramadan and fasting is by no means limited to these points, of course. There is much more wisdom hidden in this observance, known to us or appreciated by us or otherwise, that Allah regards as auspicious for us.
May this blessed month bring plenty, abundance, peace and tranquility to all mankind, and may Allah allow the pain and suffering in the Islamic world to come to a swift end.