HYDERABAD : The new moon has ushered in the holy month of Ramzan. This will be the second year that Ramzan is being observed in the shadow of Covid-19. As the muezzin gives the azaan for fajr namaaz, the devout wrap up their sehris, read their prayers, and begin their day-long fast. This time it falls in the months of April and May, with temperatures between 35 C to 40 C. Muslims will abstain from food and drink from pre-dawn to sunset.
As the world’s one billion plus Muslims gear up to fast during this month, there are perennial concerns over how to go without food and water for long hours in the heat. Immunity building is also essential with the deadly second wave of Covid-19.
Most people, who observe roza, may experience mild dehydration, which may cause headaches, tiredness and difficulty in concentrating. Hence, it is important to replenish fluid lost during the day so as to be able to fast the next day without suffering dehydration.
Many also look at the month of fasting as a good time to manage their weight. And while stalls of delish Haleem, nihari, qubani ka meetha, dahi vade et al beckon at every street corner, consuming lots of these heavy foods and sweets will prove counter-productive, and end up causing more weight gain.
A healthy sehri plays a major role in staying energetic all day long. “Slow digestive foods are the key,” comments Ali Mohammed, city-based nutritionist and fitness expert. He adds: “It should contain complex carbs, fiber, protein, and fats. Add meat, paneer, chicken, and whole eggs as a source of protein, and nuts, olive oil, ghee, paneer as a source of good fats; either rice or roti, being the source of complex carbs along with fibers from vegetables.”
- Have a glass of milk- “Rich in both vitamins and minerals, milk can often quench your thirst,” says Nmami Agarwal, celebrity nutritionist. Rice/oats/bajra/ragi/barley porridge or rawa kheer can be a good option to include with milk, adds Afshan Hussain Ali, registered dietician, MSc clinical nutrition and dietetics.
- Have dried fruits - Almonds, raisins, and walnuts are a must-have. Walnuts are known to keep you full between meals, comments Nmami.
- Fruits are good -Fruits contain natural sugar that provides the body with energy. They’re also rich sources of fiber, which tend to increase feelings of satiety.
- Eat mindfully- “Stay away from extremely heavy food items or things that are unhealthy,” suggests Nmami. Afshan feels, “Fasting is a great way to reboot our minds and modify our eating patterns and food choices.”
Breaking the roza with dates is an age-old traditional custom, and is considered the best way to do it. Dates have natural sugars and good amounts of minerals that provide instant energy. Having not eaten for a long period, it is best not to binge eat in the evenings.
It is helpful to eat slowly and space the meals. After breaking the fast, it is best to start with plenty of fluids and low-fat, fluid-rich foods. “Ensure you do not go for solid food especially processed and junk food to break the fast, your body needs instant hydration. These complex foods will add load to a hydration starving body and complicate the digestive process,” cautions Ali.
Afshan advices that it is, “Preferable to eat home-cooked traditional meals which the body is used to eating, and to avoid anything fancy which will irritate the digestive system.”
Should people suffering from Covid-19 fast?
Dr Janaki Badugu, senior consulting nutritionist in the city says, “People who are ill, including those with Covid-19, should not fast. They should adhere to strict medical protocol.” She adds, “A Japanese scientist found out that fasting helps in auto phagocytosis, meaning our body eats up the bad cells. Therefore, quarantined persons can follow fasting, and when they break the fast, food rich in Vitamin C, A, D and E, and nutrients such as protein and zinc should be taken.”
Debunking common fasting myths
The most common refrain is, “not even water”? While this is true during the day time hours, Muslims can drink water from sunset to dawn. The other common misconception is people think rozas mean not eating for 30 days. No! Eating is not allowed from dawn to sunset, but people don’t go hungry for a month. A more outrageous one is, “fasting is bad for digestion and ages one faster.” In fact, fasting is considered the best remedy to cure indigestion and for digestive problems (in healthy individuals).
Workout during Ramzan
Weight-training during fasting is not advisable. This can lead to muscle breakdown. After taraweeh (night prayers) is a good time as you would be hydrated and have had essential nutrients in your system to support your workout. The best time for cardio for fat loss is before sehri. Plan a light to moderate intensity workout for two-three days a week. Ensure you are hydrated enough and perform 30 mins of light -moderate-intensity workout (brisk walk). - Ali Mohammed
— Tamanna S Mehdi firstname.lastname@example.org @tamannamehdi