The holy month of Ramadan offers a number of spiritual, social, and physiological benefits for the mind and body. Various improvements have been noted in people who fast ranging from lower cholesterol levels, increased tranquility, improved fat breakdown and ease in overcoming addictions such as smoking.
Of course to reap these benefits, a balanced diet should be in place. On the other hand, if you choose to binge over iftar, splurge in Ramadan sweets, and miss out on sleep, you will more likely encounter some negative side-effects instead.
Let’s take a look at some of the health problems you might be facing this Ramadan and what you can do to overcome them. Remember to consult your doctor for a more personalized diagnosis and treatment.
Infographic: Ramadan survival tips
Infographic: Ramadan survival tips
Do you often feel bloated after iftar and just want to lay down and sleep? The good news is there are a few things you can do to fix that.
For starters, avoid drinking liquids with your meals so it doesn’t interfere with your digestion. The best way is to have your glass of water, eat your soup, and give the liquids a few minutes to go down before you move on to your main meal.
Stay away from common bloaters such as beans, cauliflower, and cabbage. A good idea is to opt for cooked vegetables over raw vegetables because they’re easier to digest on an empty stomach.
To improve digestion, reach out for mint tea after iftar. A great option is Moroccan tea, which contains both green tea and mint tea. Combined, they can relieve gas, reduce pain, and calm digestive spasms. Ask for very little sugar or no sugar at all.
If your bowel is feeling kind of sluggish, it probably goes back to three main things that you’ve reduced this Ramadan: hydration, fiber intake, and physical activity. The solution, therefore, is to re-incorporate these into your lifestyle.
Drink fluids in large quantities once you’re fully digested. Aim for at least 5-6 cups of water or other fluids such as herbal tea an hour or two after iftar. To increase your fiber intake, snack on dried fruits. Learn your servings while you’re at it - one serving of dried fruits is equivalent to 4 dried apricots, 3 dates, 2 large figs, or 3 small prunes and provide 3-4g of fiber. Finally, maintain your activity level and get moving. Ramadan is not an excuse to sleep all day. Walk throughout the day. Go to the supermarket, window shop at the mall, hit the gym for a 30 min cardio workout, or choose any other activity that fits your schedule.
While it’s normal to feel less energetic than usual while you fast, but if you’re feeling completely drained and you see yourself yawning all day, it could be an indication that you’ve been following an unhealthy lifestyle.
One of the main causes behind feeling lethargic is a lack of hydration because it lowers your blood pressure. Aim for 2 – 3 liters of fluids a day which includes everything from water, soup, yogurt, herbal tea, and juice. Coconut water is an excellent hydrating drink that can replenish your electrolytes.
Another cause is too much sugar for suhoor which can result in a sugar spike followed by a sharp drop the next morning. Not only can this leave you feeling slumped but can also be the reason behind your nausea during the day. Choose complex carbs instead, such as whole grain bread or oats, and combine them with other food groups such as cheese and milk.
While it’s common to have a headache as your body adjusts to the new lifestyle in the first few days of fasting, but if you’re still suffering from a headache today, it may mean you’re doing something wrong.
Ensure you’re getting enough sleep. Organize sleep time even if it is not continuous, as long as you aim for consistency. Give yourself a set schedule in which you sleep at relatively the same hour every day.
Another reason could be hunger and dehydration or both. Delay your suhoor as much as possible so it goes a long way. Even if you don’t want to eat, at least wake up to drink some water.
If you’re feeling a burning sensation in the chest area after iftar then follow these tips to cope with it.
Avoid acid inducing foods that can aggravate heartburn such as fatty food, spices, tomato paste, and citrus fruits. Beware of irritating beverages like coffee, sodas, and orange juice.
It’s not enough however to only change what you eat but also how you eat it. Practice portion control by consuming small frequent meals from iftar up to suhoor. Divide your iftar over two meals, have a snack in between, and finishing off with suhoor. And although it’s tempting, make sure you don’t lie down right after your meals.