Beat the bloat – what to eat in Ramadan

July 8, 2013
Yes that samosa looks delectable. But having it everyday during Ramadan isn’t the best for our waistlines.  So if you’re looking to use the month to detox or lose weight, here is my guide for what to eat in Ramadan.
As I’m sure many of you are aware, Ramadan starts this week.  It’s a time to appreciate family, friends and of course, food.  
But how many of you open your fast with a feast during the holy month?  I put my hand up to this.  I suffer with major eyes ‘bigger than belly’ syndrome, and have food on the brain for much of the day.  Subconsciously, I almost feel like I need to get my days’ worth of food in during one sitting.
Worse still, food shopping while fasting is perilous.  Everything is appealing, and of course, you will eat it ALL.
However, what we all forget is that our stomach shrinks while fasting, so when it comes to eating, there’s really not room for much.  But that still doesn’t stop many of us stuffing a plateful of deep-fried snacks before nausea kicks in.
That’s perhaps why many people, strangely, put on weight during Ramadan.  Your metabolism slows, and the main food you are storing is unhealthy and fattening.  I remember going to Nawaab Banqueting Suite in Manchester to have iftar (the meal at sunset which signifies the end of the fast).
I was absolutely starving, and judging by the long line of diners who piled their plates high with pakoras, I wasn’t the only hungry one.
However, I could barely finish one plate of starters, and I’m doubtful that the other hungry diners polished their over-spilling plates.  I imagine a lot of food went to waste that day.  While it’s understandable to gorge, it goes against the main principles of Ramadam – the purpose is to appreciate food and what others don’t have, rather than waste what those less fortunate may never afford.
So coupled with the guilt of wastage, feasting on overly-rich or greasy food during Ramadan also can give you a belly.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, another by product of fatty food is spots, lethargy and heartburn.  After all, your body hasn’t had any food for over 16 hours, so it won’t be able to cope with copious amounts of heavy foods.

Losing too much weight during Ramadan

Last year I had to be super careful, as I was getting married the week after Ramadan.  Typically I lose weight, but not in a good way.  A gaunt bride would never be in vogue, so I was determined to eat well, but also healthily.
So I kept my Iftar’s simple, and I intend to do the same this Ramadan.  Though there will definitely be some samosas and pakoras, as its kinda rude not to have them after fasting (I am Asian, after all).
So, I thought I’d impart a few basic tips on what you can have during Ramadan, which will keep you full and healthy, which is turn will help keep you looking and feeling your best.

What to eat in Ramadan – Have lots of dates 

Dates - fruit

By that I mean the fruit variety.  The tradition of ending your fast with a date comes from the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), As well as tasting good, dates are the best thing to eat.  It is high in natural sugar, so this travels to the liver quickly to convert into energy.  This energy is much welcomed after a day of fasting, which can leave you feeling lethargic and exhausted.
Also, as your body has not had food all day, your stomach has shrunk, so going straight in for a pakora or samosa isn’t a great idea. Eating a date helps the body begin to accept food gradually, rather than diving straight into the fried stuff, which will only leave you feeling sick.

What to eat in Ramadan – Load up on your lentils

Lentils are a great source of cholesterol lowering fibre.  This helps balance out your iftar without making you feel bloated.   So having daal during Ramadan will make you feel fuller for longer, give you vitamins and keep fat at bay.  If you do load up on some naughty snacks (which we all will) lentils can help neutralise the fat, helping stop indigestion.
 

What to eat in Ramadan – Get some pulses  

I just love pulses, with my favourite being chickpeas.  During Ramadan, these are consumed by the multipack in my family. Like lentils, spiced chickpeas is a great snack which keeps you full and contributes towards your five-a-day.  Also it’s super easy to cook, as you just need to add a can of chickpeas to some lightly fried, spiced
onions and you’re good to go.  This is a great accompaniment to the
main I’ve suggested below…

What to eat in Ramadan – Keep your main simple   

A traditional Bengali dish to have during Ramadan is kisuri, which is kind of like a savoury rice pudding.  Kisuri is made by boiling broken basmati rice and adding onions, turmeric, ginger and
salt.  It may sound bland, but that’s beauty of it.
By its nature, kisuri is a simple dish, which is exactly what your tender stomach needs after a day of fasting.  You can also add some lentils in with the rice to add more texture and a healthy kick.  Plus you can load it up with the spicy chickpeas mentioned above to give it some flavour.  It’s also great with pakoras, too.

What to eat in Ramadan – Alternate between healthy and unhealthy treats    

Now you might be thinking I’m doing a Gwyneth Paltrow when extolling the virtues of healthy eating.  But let’s be honest, it’s not Ramadan without some unhealthy snacks.  So of course, there’ll be some fried treats.  But rather than going all-out, it might be worth reducing how much you have.  It helps to have a pakora day, followed by a no-pakora day.  If you do this for the month, you’ll dramatically cut down how much you have during Ramadan.  After
all, let’s be honest, if you make them everyday, they will be the first to be
polished up.  And don’t think you can just make less.  We all know how far pakora batter goes…
  
 

What to eat in Ramadan – Get grilling!

Just because it’s Ramadan, you don’t have to O-D on the cooking oil.  Some foods, such as filo pastry samosas, kebabs and fishcakes actually work better when grilled.  And if you can’t resist the oil, just invest in a spray oil can, which give you that lightly oiled hit without being greasy.

What to eat in Ramadan – Drink mainly water  

Now this might not be everyone’s cup of tea (or glass of water), but I find that drinking water over fizzy drinks makes me feel so much better.  Your body’s been starved of water all day, so you do need to make up for lost fluid so you don’t feel dehydrated.  While the fizzy stuff may seem appealing, you’ll actually feel worse for it afterwards.   Of course fruit juice is good, but I’d prefer to eat it raw.

What to eat in Ramadan – Get your fill of fruit

 
We’re a nation of juicers, but did you know that half the goodness of fruit is lost when blended?  Potassium and fibre are in the skin of many fruits, so I always choose to have a large plate of
fruit for iftar.  This should work especially well this year, as we’re fasting in the heat of summer, so our body will crave water and cooling fruit.
Anyway, I’ll try and post up some of my iftar dinners (hopefully I’ll practice what I preach), and any new recipes I pick up I’ll share accordingly.
HalimaBobs

About the Author

HalimaBobs

I’m not a makeup artist, chef, lifestyle guru or stylist. I’m just me. And like you, I’m trying to make the best of most things, only I’m sharing my warts-and-all thoughts along the way.

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