The month of Ramadaan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and regarded as a Holy month among the Muslim faithfuls. Allah (SWT ) in the Holy Quran made it compulsory for every Muslim of age with sound mind and body to fast from the Fajr(Dawn) to Maghreb(Sunset/Twilight)
Surah Al-Baqara, Verse 183-184:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ وَأَن تَصُومُوا خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious)
[Observing Saum (fasts)] for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man, etc.), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskin (poor person) (for every day).
But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast, it is better for you if only you know.
the fasting periods, no food or drink is consumed and thoughts as well as actions must be kept pure.
Muslims are required to eat the pre-dawn meal(Sahuur) and break their fast by sunset (Iftar ) with fruits and meal and may continue eating and drinking till the next Fajr.
Thus, it is important that good and wholesome meals be consumed in good proportions to maintain vitality.
It is common practice here in Nigeria, to often take “Swallows” (Okele) for Sahuur and lighter meals for Iftar since the Sahuur is to last through the day till sunset. More often than not, such meals largely contain carbohydrates while other food classes are to a lesser amount.
The Sahuur should contain the food classes in right proportions to provide adequate energy that will last throughout the day and yet nutritious to the body without causing fatigue during the day.
Vegetables and fruits/natural fruit juices are a good complement.
It is advised that a cup of water at room temperature be taken because this will help mix with the already secreted gastric acid, overnight.
It is encouraged to break fast with fruits such as Dates or Oranges etc in concordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad(SAW) and If none available, then water may be used. Dates are rich in sugars that are easily broken down and quickly absorbed into the body providing energy easily.
This is done prior to eating the Iftar meal, which will take longer time to digest. Carbonated drinks are discouraged because they liberate “gas” in the stomach which distends the stomach and can cause inconveniences during the Maghreb prayer that follows shortly afterwards.
Consumption of cold drinks at Iftar causes the gastric vessels to constrict and thus reduces blood supply to the stomach and this affects digestion negatively.
Rather, water a room temperature will be ideal, especially If you’ll be eating shortly after.
The choice of food ingredients should be aimed towards a balanced diet using fresh food items.
For vitamins and minerals, use fresh vegetables and fresh fruits and natural fruit juices, fresh whole grains. Avoid coconut because of its oil.
For dairy, low fat milk(skimmed milk).is good. Avoid whole milk, ice cream, cheese and full cream yoghurt.
For protein, lean meat, skinless chicken and turkey, moderate amount of prawns and crabs, beans and peas. Eggs for children and young adults and avoid “internal animal organs” and fried flesh(fish,meat, chicken or Turkey )etc
For carbohydrates, avoid fried potatoes and yam, pastries such as Doughnut, fried rice.
Avoid the use of butter and ghee in cooking. Avoid frying, rather you may boil or grill or bake the food items as applicable.
It is important to stay well hydrated during this fasting and avoiding large volumes of water at Sahuur will help attain this.
About 2-3 glasses of water Sahuur should be adequate when the meal contains juicy fruits like water melon.
Salty diets should be avoided and you should avoid putting much salt in your meal as it leads to dehydration.
With all that is said above, I hope I’ve been able to provide you with adequate information on eating healthy this Ramadaan. I wish you a healthy Ramadaan and I pray Allah accepts our efforts in this month as worship and make us of the successful ones. Aamiin.
Dr. Kazeem Adebowale D. is a blood donation advocate and also a pioneer of the “Heal the world foundation” and member of “Curb cancer Initiative “.
He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.