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Spotlight: Fast, but don’t feast



Fasting teaches modesty, minimalism and empathy. Contrary to it, many take iftar and post-iftar time as an opportunity to compensate for the lost food and tend to overeat, resulting in various lifestyle diseases.

A virtual survey conducted among the doctors by the Observer, suggests that many patients who visited them during or after Ramadhan, followed a wrong eating regime and consumed oily foods as well as carbonated drinks in empty stomach. These experts say, “Break the fast sensibly and reap the full health benefits of Ramadhan.”

“The benefits of fasting will be nullified by drinking very sugary carbonated soft drinks and rich heavy fatty meals immediately after iftar,” says Dr Benny Panakkal, Medical Director at Badr Al Samaa Hospitals.

Such an eating pattern can spike blood sugar and triglycerides after the meal triggering a cascade of metabolic events leading to atherosclerosis or the process of developing clogged arteries leading to heart attacks and strokes.

Mini Padikkal, Clinical Dietician at the NMC Ghubra, suggests a balanced diet as the key to good health. She suggests moderate consumption of fried foods because they are high in calories and fat, increasing cholesterol level in the blood.

“Fasting, especially during the holy month of Ramadhan, carries a high risk of dehydration as food and drink are limited before sunrise and after sunset. Let’s not forget with the current Covid-19 situation it is now more important than ever to keep yourself healthy, active, hydrated and nourished. Hence, a balanced main dish at ‘iftar’ should contain complex carbs like whole grains, millets etc with some healthy protein and cooked vegetables or salads,” adds Mini Padikkal.

Mostly at iftar, people tend to take heavy meals, which usually are fatty foods. This leads to pain in the stomach called acidity or gastritis in medical terms, nausea or vomiting, and indigestion.

“These symptoms get exacerbated if the person has a history of acidity. We advise everyone to have light meals at iftar, non-fatty or oily food, avoid junk foods, more fruits, salads, dates, plenty of water and take dinner after the special night prayers to avoid the above-mentioned health problems,” says Dr Dilip Singhvi, Specialist — Internal Medicine, Apollo Hospital.

“The month of Ramadhan is a great opportunity to focus on bringing back a balanced and healthy lifestyle in our life. Ramadhan fasting has spiritual, physical, psychological, and social benefits. Fasting during Ramadhan can be good for one’s health and personal development,” says Jishy Seby, Diet Consultant, KIMS Oman.

Good hydration, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein foods like fish, lean meat, nuts and low-fat foods should be the primary energy source for those who are fasting.


At Iftar

Overeating or feasting should be avoided during all the meals during Ramadhan, especially during Iftar. The body’s immediate need at the time of Iftar is to get a readily available energy source in the form of glucose, particularly for the brain and nerves. So it is always good to break the fast traditionally with dates and fruits. Dates provide energy in the form of sugar. Fruits help to maintain water and mineral balance in the body. Soups and cereals can follow it. Make sure your soup includes generous amounts of vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, peas, green beans, squash, and carrots.

At Suhoor

One should take a simple diet and should not differ too much from one’s normal diet. It should contain foods from all the major food groups such as cereals, pulses, meat and fish, dairy and fats.

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