It is imperative to Ramadhan that we practice self-control, self-discipline and healthy balance while learning to appreciate food. Fasting during the holy month is not only an opportunity to grow spiritually but also to gain physical health benefits. It is important to take good care of your health and body during the fasting period.
Pregnancy is such a great time to eat all of your favourite foods, but if you choose to fast throughout the month while pregnant, you must eat well to acquire all of the nutrients your body needs at this special time.
DON’T MISS SUHOOR
Suhoor is inevitably the most important meal during fasting; plan it well and include foods with low GI (slow energy releasing) i.e. fibre-rich fresh fruits, pulses, nuts, grains, dried fruits, dates etc. Avoid salty foods at this time to save you from feeling thirsty during the day.
EAT RIGHT AT IFTAR
Break your fast with a few dates and a glass of fresh fruit juice/laban or a bowl of low-fat yoghurt with chopped fresh fruits and nuts to get the essential nutrients as well as to maintain steady blood sugar levels.
INCLUDE HEALTHY CARBS
While fasting, your body requires stored energy to help you get through the day, and the best way to do this is to get a mix of simple and complex carbohydrates. Include some complex carbs like brown rice, sweet potatoes, and whole grain bread along with some that provide a faster boost of energy, like white rice, as these simple carbohydrates get digested and absorbed quickly, and this combination works best at iftar, especially if you are pregnant.
FOCUS ON GREENS
AND HEALTHY PROTEIN
Leafy greens are a good source of folic acid and iron, so make sure you include spinach, mustard leaves, mint, coriander, spring onions, and radish leaves, combined with some excellent protein sources like chicken, meat, fish, eggs, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, and green beans. Include these in your Iftar menu.
SAY YES TO FRUITS
Choose fruit over that dessert in front of you especially when you crave anything sweet, pick a fruit you like. This will give your body the required amounts of not only sugar but also vital nutrients.
You need to stay hydrated, so keep sipping water between Iftar and Suhoor, especially if Ramadhan falls in the summer. You can also add fresh coconut water and lemon ginger water to your fluids-to-drink list.
BE WARY OF CAFFEINE
It might sound a little discouraging to exclude tea/coffee from your routine, but caffeine not only reduces the ability of your body to absorb nutrients but also acts as a diuretic, draining water from your body. If you still want to indulge, take no more than 200 grammes of caffeine a day, followed by a glass of water every time you indulge in a caffeinated drink.
Fasting during pregnancy is a personal decision based on a variety of factors like your health, work, responsibilities, week of pregnancy and your overall health conditions etc. and your best bet would be to discuss with your doctor and nutritionist to plan a healthy fasting menu for you.
*Dr Monika Seth is a nutritionist and freelance consultant residing in Oman for the last 22 years. She is a health enthusiast with two decades experience in the field of health.