One week of puasa down, and three to go! Going without food and water from sunrise to sunset can be difficult, but that’s precisely the purpose: to practice self-discipline and to develop empathy for those who are less fortunate.

During this month-long fast of Ramadan, the metabolic rate of a fasting person slows down. If you’re not careful with your food intake, you may end up putting on weight! This is because people tend to overeat foods that are high in fat and calorie content when breaking fast. In fact, taking less food than what is usually consumed is sufficient.

 

The Good Puasa Diet

If you’d like to lose weight in conjunction with fasting, this can be effectively achieved through self-regulation and control, especially by eliminating excess food intake. The terawih, a special prayer practised during Ramadan, helps metabolise the food and can be considered a mild form of exercise as it requires the use of all your muscles and joints.

If you’re an avid exerciser, sportsman, or outdoorsman, you may be wondering if you can keep up your regular routine especially when your lifestyle takes a more sedentary turn. It is possible – with a carefully planned schedule! Pick a time when your energy levels are high and when you can rehydrate, so that you can have a productive workout. An ideal time is 2-3 hours after buka puasa.

Working out during the day is not advisable; but if you do decide to, about an hour before buka puasa would be the best time. This is to ensure that there’s less risk of dehydration before you can replenish the water you’ve lost.

The act of fasting doesn’t apply only to eating, but also indulging in pleasurable pursuits such as smoking, engaging in sexual relations, as well as sinful speech and behaviour. Ramadan has been known to show improvements in physical stamina, mental alertness and a feeling of inner peace and tranquility. Hence, this is also a good time to cut down on bad habits such as smoking and consumption of foods high in fats and sugar!

 

The Good Puasa Habits

  1. Gradually reduce the intake of caffeinated beverages. A sudden reduction may cause headaches, mood swings, and irritability.
  2. Go cold turkey on your cigarettes! But if you can’t, then also gradually reduce the amount smoked daily. Cigarettes can sometimes trigger certain behaviours such as snacking on junk food, which causes overeating.
  3. Limit your sugar intake. Having too much sugar especially during sahur will make the body produce too much insulin and cause your blood sugar levels to drop.
  4. To prevent indigestion and wind, avoid overeating, too much fried/fatty/spicy foods and excess consumption of foods that produce wind, such as cabbage, onion, lentils, eggs, and carbonated drinks.
  5. To avoid muscle cramps, eat foods rich in calcium, magnesium and potassium, such as vegetables, fruits (dates, bananas), dairy products, and lean meat.
  6. Avoid skipping sahur. Sahur should consist of a balanced meal taken as late as possible just before imsak to avoid unnecessary prolonged fasting.
  7. Do not delay buka puasa.

 

The Good Puasa Foods

the-good-puasa-fast-right

Consume foods rich in complex carbohydrates (slow digesting foods), especially high fibre options (wholegrain/wholemeal), e.g. brown rice, noodles, barley, oats, bread, capati, starchy vegetables (lentils, baked beans, potatoes), rather than refined carbohydrates/high sugar food and drinks (fast-digesting foods) e.g. sugar, white flour. The body’s immediate need at the time of sahur is to get an easily available energy source – in the form of glucose.

good-puasa-fast-right

Have at least 2-3 servings of meat/fish/poultry per day, choosing lean cuts of meat and without skin. This food group provides protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, B vitamins.

good-puasa-fast-right

Have at least 2 servings of vegetables and 3 servings of fruits per day. They provide antioxidants (ACE vitamins), folate, fibre, calcium, essential vitamins/minerals, and iron.

good-puasa-fast-right

Fruits and fruit juices (no added sugar) are sufficient to bring low blood sugar levels to normal levels – ideal for buka puasa and sahur, to be taken with each main meal.

good-puasa-fast-right

Dates contain carbohydrate, fibre, iron, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin C, and magnesium – an ideal food which is easy to digest and within ½ hour, the tired body regains a renewed vigour. Breaking fast with dates (according to Sunnah) helps one to avoid excessive eating.

good-puasa-fast-right

Bananas are a good source of carbohydrate, potassium and magnesium.

good-puasa-fast-right

Have at least 1-2 servings of milk and milk products (low fat alternatives). These foods contain calcium, phosphorus, vitamins A and D as well as B vitamins.

good-puasa-fast-right

Whenever possible, select foods rich in fibre e.g. wholegrain bread and cereals (oats, barley, rye), fresh vegetables, fresh and dried fruits (apricots, figs, prunes), beans/pulses. Fibre-rich foods help reduce gastric acidity and excess bile acids. They also lower blood cholesterol levels, prevent constipation, and help control blood sugar levels. Especially if taken during sahur, they enable one to withstand hunger for longer periods.

good-puasa-fast-right

Drink sufficient fluids (aim for 8 glasses a day) between buka puasa and sahur to avoid dehydration and so that your body may adjust fluid levels in time. Choose low sugar drinks. Have a drink after each visit to the toilet to replace loss (after buka puasa until before imsak). You have to keep in mind that your body loses water and salt through sweat, urine and breathing. In addition to this, water loss depends on how physically active you are throughout the day. The weather can also affect your hydration status. Therefore, replenishing water losses between buka puasa and sahur is important in order to prevent common symptoms of dehydration: dizziness, fatigue, headaches, muscle cramps and disorientation.

 

The most common complaints during Ramadan include constipation, indigestion and headaches. A balanced meal during both sahur and buka puasa is vital to prevent these.

 

Healthy Tips During Ramadhan 2017

Keep your food intake to the portions shown above in order to fulfilll all the food groups needed, and try not to overeat. Happy fasting!

 

+++++

The information in this article is contributed by Rozanna M. Rosly and edited by Tongue in Chic for publication.

Rozanna graduated in July 2000 from Leeds Metropolitan University with a Bachelor of Science degree with second class honours (1st division), having followed an approved sandwich programme in Dietetics. She was given recognition and commendation from the Board of examiners for academic excellence. Rozanna completed her clinical attachment from January 1999 September 1999 at the prestigious Leeds General Infirmary, covering various medical departments including diabetes, obesity, renal, cardiology, neurology, respiratory, gastroenterology, oncology, paediatrics and community. She was also a research assistant at the Department of Psychology, University of Leeds in 1999. Rozanna started her career in 2000 as a product specialist in the customer support team (Xenical) with Roche Pharmaceutical for 2 years. She then joined Sunway Medical Centre (Sunmed) as a Clinical Dietitian in 2002, for more than 2 years. After that Rozanna decided to join Dr Kim Tan and Dr Suren Thuraisingham at Health Scan Malaysia as a consultant dietitian from 2004 until 2006. After that, Rozanna was hired as a senior dietitian at Jerudong Park Medical Centre, Brunei Darussalam in June 2006 and was promoted to Chief Dietitian and Head of Dietetics and Food and Beverage Department in July 2009. In November 2012, Rozanna joined UMSC as the Head of Dietetic Services.

+++++

Read next: Chic Eats: The Raya 2017 Cookies Roundup

Stock up on the classic cookies or go traditional with buah rotan and kuih bangkit santan – the choice is all yours! Check out our Raya cookie roundup here.