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Wellness in Ramadan: Mindful Fasting and Nourishing Practices

Hi, I’m Asmaa Lahlou, co-founder of MyAuthentikSpoon, naturopathic programmes. In this blog, I’ll be your guide to making informed food choices and optimising your fasting regimen for greater well-being during the holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is a cherished time, eagerly awaited for the deep family connections it fosters, its collection of unique and festive recipes, and the joy of social gatherings through an endless number of invites, sometimes stretching to both Iftar and Suhoor in a single day. This period is vibrant with cultural and spiritual celebrations, yet it poses a question: 

“How do we fully immerse in its richness without compromising our health?”

In this article, we’ll explore bridging the gap with insights from MyAuthentikSpoon coaching. We’ll discuss embracing Ramadan’s essence—enjoying family, savouring festive meals, and navigating social events—while focusing on healthful nutrition and lifestyle habits. This journey through mindful eating and living during Ramadan and beyond nourishes body, soul, and community connections. Let’s dive in.

1. Embrace PFF (Protein, Fat, and Fibre) at Every Meal

For some, especially now with shorter days, skipping Suhoor might seem like a natural form of intermittent fasting, offering its own set of health benefits. However, if you do opt for Suhoor, embracing the PFF (Protein, Fat, and Fibre) approach is key. This includes lean proteins, healthy fats such as olives, avocados, nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables or fatty fish, and fibre-rich foods like vegetables, legumes, or whole grains.

Now remember, PFF should be applied across all your meals. I will help stabilise your blood sugar, keep you satiated, and ensure you’re energised throughout the day.

Avoid sugary drinks as they can cause your blood sugar levels to spike and crash quickly, leading to energy slumps. Instead, choose water, a light tea, or calming herbal infusions like rooibos or verbena. These can relax you, making it easier to return to sleep before your day begins.

Here’s an ideal, sugar-conscious recipe: “Sellou, The Moroccan Power Bowl” that perfectly complements your Suhoor.

In Moroccan culture, Sellou is more than just a sweet treat – it’s a symbol of tradition, celebration, and love. While the traditional recipe is delicious, it often includes ingredients that can be detrimental to health, such as refined sugar, white flour and deep-frying techniques.

However, with a few simple modifications, Sellou can be transformed into a nutritious and anti-inflammatory dish that still captures the essence of its heritage and you can do it very simply and fast using your Thermomix®. Click here to access our Naturopathic Sellou version.

Sellou is a great way to start your day, providing you with a balanced mix of nutrients to support your fasting hours. Plus, it’s easy to make it ahead of time, ensuring you have a quick, nutritious option for Suhoor or anytime you need an energy boost.

2. Hydrate Wisely

Hydration plays a crucial role during Ramadan, a time when nourishing your body with sufficient fluids is vital. Drinking ample water between Iftar and Suhoor is essential to prevent dehydration during the fasting hours which could lead to fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and headaches. But it’s not just about water; a variety of hydrating foods can also contribute significantly to your fluid intake. Foods like cucumbers, watermelon, and yoghurt not only offer nutritional benefits but are excellent sources of hydration. For more insights on how to “eat your water” and the importance of including a diverse range of fruits and vegetables in your diet, check out our detailed article: feeling thirsty, eat your water!

Moreover, limiting or avoiding caffeinated beverages is wise as they can contribute to dehydration. Caffeine acts as a diuretic, which means it can increase the frequency of urination, potentially leading to a loss of fluids and minerals as well. So, while enjoying your evening meals and social gatherings, prioritise water, teas, herbal teas and hydrating foods to ensure you remain adequately hydrated and healthy throughout the holy month.We love this Green Garden Juice for Iftar. It takes less than 5 minutes to make. This juice is great because it brings healthy carbohydrates from apples and carrots and provides enough fibre to slow down glucose and fructose absorption as well as a variety of micronutrients to support detoxification. For more fibre intake you could have this drink without straining it.

3. Mindful Iftar

Breaking your fast with dates and water is a timeless tradition that provides a gentle reintroduction of food to your system. For Iftar, aim for a balanced meal that encompasses all food groups, initiating with a light soup, a vegetable juice or a smoothie to gently awaken your digestive system for the more substantial meal to follow. It’s crucial to pay attention to your hunger cues and eat slowly, savouring each bite thoroughly. Munching well not only aids in digestion but also enhances the absorption of nutrients.

Incorporate a mindful pause in your Iftar routine; this could be the traditional prayer time or even a short walk. Such breaks are invaluable for preventing an overload on your digestive system by spacing out your meal consumption. This practice allows your body to register satiety more effectively and can significantly contribute to a more enjoyable and digestible dining experience. By adopting this approach, you not only honour the spiritual essence of Ramadan but also nurture your body in a way that supports overall health and well-being.

A great recipe we love for Iftar is the Coconut Soup with Sweet Potato. You can find it easily here on Cookidoo and with the Thermomix® help, it doesn’t take more than 30 mins to do it. Here are my adjustment to this recipe to make it even more nutritious and still delicious, comforting:

  • Add 15g fresh turmeric
  • Replace vegetable oil by coconut oil or olive oil
  • Replace the brown sugar by 1 tbsp maple syrup, dissolved in a small glass of water (to be added at the end of step 5)
  • Add the lime juice at the end of step 5 to keep more vitamin C
  • Increase baby spinach to 200g and more coriander leaves (they are so good for detoxification)·  To make this soup a meal for 6 with enough protein, I would either add 250g shrimps peeled and deveined or replace the sweet potato with 600g cooked white beans as a plant based source of protein – you will need to add more broth or water to reach the soup thickness you like.

4. Limit Obesogenic and Inflammatory Foods

In all our programs at MyAuthentikSpoon, and it’s especially crucial during Ramadan, we advise being mindful of your food choices. The feeling of hunger after a day of fasting might tempt you towards unhealthy options. So please, avoid foods that can negatively impact your health, such as highly processed foods, non-cold pressed vegetable oils, and items high in additives or pesticides. These types of foods can be obesogenic (promoting weight gain) and inflammatory (which would lead to many health issues and promote weight gain as well).

Instead, prioritise whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible, and consider organic fruits and vegetables to minimise exposure to harmful chemicals.

Cookidoo is full of tasty and healthy recipes you can make at home in minutes using authentic whole foods. Consider the following recipe examples you can have during Ramadan and carry on all year long.

1. Tuna Nicoise Salad (gut health)

2. Middle Eastern Salmon with Tahini Sauce (where I replace couscous by quinoa or buckwheat and I increase Parsley to reduce inflammation and support detoxification)

3. Acaí Nice Cream (where I replace agave by maple syrup in order to reduce the amount of free-fructose to support liver function and I also replace coconut oil by almond butter if I need to increase protein intake of the meal)

With a bit of organisation and help (thank you Thermomix®!), making conscious choices becomes easier and will support your health during Ramadan and contribute to a more beneficial fasting experience, aligning with the spirit of this holy month.

5. Stay Active

Keeping up with regular physical movement during Ramadan is key to staying fit and full of energy. To align with your energy fluctuations throughout the day, pick the optimal time for your workouts, either before Iftar or a couple of hours post-Iftar. If you’re exercising during fasting hours, consider gentler activities such as walking or yoga, which are less taxing on your body.

Moreover, integrate movement into your daily routine for an active Ramadan. Take a walk while on phone calls or engage in cooking your meals instead of opting for takeout. These small but significant actions add up, playing a crucial role in your overall health and well-being during the holy month. Embracing these practices can make your Ramadan not only spiritually fulfilling but physically revitalising as well.

6. Mindful Social Eating

Ramadan and Eid bring cherished moments of social gatherings and shared feasts, rekindling connections with friends and family. While enjoying these moments, be mindful of your food choices. Embrace healthier meal options, and even when dining out or visiting others, try to stick to the PFF (Protein, Fat, and Fibres) principle. It might seem challenging at first, especially when not eating at home, but with persistence, it will become second nature.

Be conscious of portion sizes to prevent overeating. Enjoying a variety of dishes is part of the celebration, but how much you consume is as important as the choices you make. By being mindful of these aspects, you can fully enjoy the festive season without compromising your health and well-being.

Additionally, don’t overlook the importance of good sleep during Ramadan. Aiming for 6-8 hours of quality sleep each night is essential. Adequate rest is not only vital for your body’s recovery but also for maintaining energy levels, mood, and overall health during the fasting period. Adjusting your schedule to ensure you get enough sleep can help you stay vibrant and fully engaged in the spiritual and social aspects of Ramadan.

7. Continuous Improvement Beyond Ramadan

Use the month of Ramadan as a stepping stone to adopt long-term healthy habits. Focus on the principles of PFF, hydration, and avoiding harmful foods not just during Ramadan but as part of your lifestyle. This will help you maintain your health gains throughout the year.

Incorporating these nutritional and lifestyle tips into your Ramadan and Eid celebrations can lead to a healthier, more fulfilling fasting experience. By embracing these key principles, you’re not just observing a tradition; you’re also taking a step towards a healthier, more mindful way of living.

About the Author

Asmaa Lahlou is the co-founder of MyAuthentikSpoon, a naturopathic programme dedicated to empowering individuals to make smarter food choices for improved well-being, with the added convenience of Thermomix®. If you’re ready to tackle wellness with a fresh perspective, schedule a complimentary private consultation with Asmaa to receive personalised dietary insights and weight management strategies. This is your opportunity to have your questions answered and to learn how to incorporate the right weight management strategies into your lifestyle effectively.

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