From fasting to food coma? Top 9 ways not to overeat in Ramadan
It’s amazing how we can practice so much control while we’re fasting, yet so many times we choose to overeat at the iftar table
What an incredible feeling it is to finally quench your thirst and eat your heart’s desires after a long day’s fast. Yes, you’ve been deprived all day, there’s a lot of mouth-watering food on the table, and you can’t wait to indulge, but do you really want to have feelings of remorse after you’re done? Take a minute and think about the consequences of overeating – indigestion, stomach upset, heartburn, bloating, belching, nausea, and low energy levels. Having said that, what seems to be the best approach now, over-indulgence or moderation?
It’s amazing how we can practice so much control while we’re fasting, yet so many times we choose to overeat at the iftar table. Somehow our self-restraint takes a back seat at that specific moment. This Ramadan, do things a little differently. To help you break that vicious cycle, I’ve put together a few tips to ensure you enjoy a moderate iftar.
If I could give one advice this Ramadan it would be to drink plenty of water. Not only is it essential to drink a lot of water, you’ll also be less likely to eat too much. Often our bodies confuse hunger for thirst, and during Ramadan you’ll be feeling both. Your extreme hunger can partially subside with hydration. Drink a full glass of water preferably before your meal as drinking with your meal could put you at risk of indigestion. After an hour or so, continue to enjoy small sips of water.
Begin your iftar with something small such as dates and almonds and take a break before having the rest of your meal. That should take the edge off of your feelings of hunger. In the meantime you can complete your maghrib prayers, chat with your friends and family, and scan the buffet table to plan what you’ll be eating. Be selective and weigh the meals you really like against how healthy they are.
When it’s time to eat, there is a sudden frenzy around the table and a rush to shove down as much food as one can. You’ve done well by fasting, now enjoy the reward and savor every bite, chew slowly, and be thankful for it. When you chew slowly, it helps you resist the urge to swallow and move on to the next bite. It also allows your body to effectively send you signals on hunger and fullness cues. Put down your fork between every bite to pace yourself.
Sit down and focus
Don’t eat standing up. People often joke that ‘all food eaten while standing has no calories’. That’s because people don’t think they deserve to be counted. When you eat your meal sitting down, you get to enjoy it more and reach satisfaction faster. You’ll also be able to listen to your body better that way.
Don’t hang around the table
Let’s face it; there is a lot of delicious food on that table. Can’t find the willpower to resist it? Just leave the table. Proximity plays a huge role on your choice of going for seconds or not. Sit close enough to continue to converse with the people around you, but leave your plate behind.
Eat a balanced suhoor
Eating suhoor can prevent binging over iftar. A good balanced suhoor can keep you going a long way, and reduce your feelings of hunger even at iftar. Eat a fiber-packed suhoor that includes a combination of protein, carbs and good fats. It will also jump start your metabolism.
Ramadan is not an excuse to be lazy. When you have a plan to exercise after iftar, you’ll have a lower tendency of overeating. You don’t necessarily have to do anything too heavy. A 30 minute walk will suffice, and will motivate you to eat healthy. Exercise will also help you feel energetic after iftar.
Get sufficient sleep
People tend to sleep at later hours during Ramadan. Make sure you’re not missing out on sleep however. Set your sleep schedule for Ramadan. Will you wake up later or compensate it by taking a nap in the afternoon? Alternatively you can choose not to sleep late at all. Whatever you choose, know that there is a connection between sleep and appetite. Eating and sleeping are two of the most basic human functions, both essential to survival. They’re also deeply entwined. When we don’t get enough sleep, our body releases hunger hormones, and as a result they can make us overeat over iftar.
Set a goal to lose weight
In addition to achieving your spiritual goal, Ramadan can be the perfect opportunity to lose weight. Setting a goal to lose weight can also serve as a great motivation to eat moderately at iftar.