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Ramadan is almost here! A month where we feed our Mind,Body and Soul. There’s no wonder we feel like indulging after many hours of fasting, buying all those delicacies at the grocery store, but lets keep in mind this Hadith by our Prophet Mohammad(Peace be upon him) about moderation while eating :

“O, son of Adam, eat with one third of your stomach and drink with one third and leave one third of your stomach to breathe so that you may think.”

 A lot of researches are showing the benefits of fasting. A recent study in the June 5 issue of the Cell Stem Cell shows that cycles of prolonged fasting not only protect against immune system damage,but also induce immune system regeneration, shifting stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal.

So here are some of the best tips i compiled for you to enjoy a healthy Ramadan!

1. Break your fast the Healthy way

The Prophetic etiquette of breaking fast: three dates( Which is considered as one serving of fruit) and a cup of water. Why is this scientifically important for our body? Dates are very Nutrient dense with versatile Vitamins and minerals as well as fiber!

Also, naturally oh-so-sweet, this helps in bringing blood glucose levels back to normal after many hours of fasting as well as avoid overeating later.

2. Elements of a Healthy Iftar plate

Remember to include the following on your Iftar plate :

  • Soup : Soup helps in keeping us full and hydrated ! But it’s also important to consider what’s in the soup, Vegetable soup, lentil soup, tomato soup are all very nutrient dense ( And of course, the signature lentil soup (Known as Adas, عدس)  which is a a great source of protein ( No excuse to get bored of it, remember the protein in it :-p ). We always try to add up protein in our soups by adding either sliced chicken breast, meat cubes to the vegetable soup or Freekeh. Avoid creamy soups which are high in fat since it could cause indigestion.
  •  Protein, Salad & carbohydrates  : starting off with protein (Such as lean meat, fish, & chicken breast)  and salad to lower the impact of having carbohydrates instantly on the blood glucose level, and then continuing gradually.Include healthy choices of carbohydrates such as brown Rice, Whole wheat pasta, and Quinoa.
  • Samboosak : Is probably considered as a must have side dish on every ramadan Sufra, it being fried, it is important to consider a healthier choice! Baking it would be awesome, this is what we do at home! We use a cooking oil spray, another option is adding a bit of oil on the pan and wiping  it with a tissue to spread it, it still tastes as good but healthier! Give it a try 🙂

3. Hydration : There are so many tempting drinks such as Amar El din, Iri’i Al soos, and a selection of juices but water takes the top! Juices are considered to be very high in sugar and this upsets the stomach and causes a delay in the digestion process. Start by breaking your fast with a cup of water, it is better to take sips gradually instead of drinking it all at once, and make sure you get your 8-10 cups of water throughout your post-iftar day to compensate for the lack of hydration!

4. Desserts : Who doesn’t love Ramadan desserts?  It’s natural to crave sweet food during fasting days. But if we have an option of making it healthy why not? Katayif is a signature dessert in Ramadan and if you really think of it, we have a healthy base here! Consider the Small portion, flour,water, low fat cheese and mixed nuts, we just need the last simple substitute, which is not deep frying it and soaking it in sugar. What we do is, we also bake it ( adding cooking spray to the pan) and again, voilà ! it still tastes as good! with a drizzle of honey at the top or ( Agave nectar, a plant based sweetener) you’ll love it just as much, and you get the benefit of a healthier choice!

Try to limit sugary desserts as much as possible, Kunafeh, Baklava and Cakes are very high in sugar and are considered empty calories which will leave you hungry throughout the day! Go for fresh fruits such as Berries instead or even an innovative smoothie with a great mix of Fruits, nut butter and a drizzle of honey !

5. Suhoor : Is a very important meal since it boosts you with the energy and hydration for the next fasting day and keep your metabolic rate high, just make sure it’s a healthy combination of  Protein, Fats and carbohydrates! an example could be an omlette with mixed vegetables/ Turkey slices with cheese and a side fruit/ Oats meal with 1 cup of low fat milk and 1 Tbsp of Nut butter and a fruit ( More ideas are available in my blog post archive : “Healthy, Filling & Delicious Ideas for Suhoor“)

6. Dining out & Buffets : We get so many invitations during Ramadan, as well as dining out in buffets which is very common, and of course, buffets have to have the best of what takes our heart, from appetizers to main dishes and oh, desserts! But can we choose wisely? Yes! I always start with a good amount of salad to keep me full, and a small corning on my plate for the appetizers (Like hummus, moutabbal) and i mostly avoid fried items (Extra calories). Main dish will be a good combination of Protein(Important!), Grilled vegetables, and some carbohydrates on the side for energy. What about desserts? It’s ok to try them, but again Portion size! just don’t go overboard.When i treat myself, i make sure i compensate by doing cardio !

7. Best hours to exercise : The best hour to exercise is 2-3 hours after iftar,  when you have given enough time for digestion and energy to workout. An hour before exercise can be tiring and makes you dizzy, and since you’ve been fasting all day and have no energy stores, your body will break down muscles.

Wish you a very blessed & Healthy Ramadan! Physically,mentally and spiritually 🙂  !

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