Ramzan special: The right way to fast and feast
Ramzan means staying without food for many hours. So how do you ensure you stay healthy during the fasting period this time?
The holy month of Ramzan is an important one in (and this might be no exaggeration) probably everyone’s calender. There is the fasting — an important time to pray, introspect, soul search and do good deeds. And then, there is the feasting — kebabs, biryanis, fresh fruits, vegetables and barbecued meat.
However, neither fasting nor feasting (for any religious reason) is for the weak-hearted. Instances of people getting exhausted and falling ill while fasting, are not unheard of. However, with some planning and a modified diet, any person who is fasting can remain healthy and sail through the period.
FASTING FOR THE FIRST TIME
Look our for: Signs of exhaustion
Mumbai-based film-maker Imtiyaz Khaleel fasted for the first time when he was in Grade three. “I remember it was in the month of May or June,” recalls the 36-year-old. “It went off very well,” he adds.
Founder of Chennai-based Basil Wellness Clinic, Dr Wasim Mohideen, who also started fasting in school, says, “There are no theories to prove or disprove that fasting is good or bad for kids,” he adds. The first time you fast, prepare yourself and break your fast with something that is relatively easy on the stomach like porridge, adds Mohideen.
FASTING IF YOU HAVE MEDICAL ISSUES
Look our for: Anything out of the ordinary, like a sudden drop in sugar level if you are diabetic.
A couple of years ago at Apollo Hospital, Dr Mohideen remembers meeting a diabetic patient, who was also suffering from hypertension, at the emergency ward because of her alarmingly low sugar level. “When we took her medical history, we learnt that she injected herself with insulin and continued to fast. She insisted on fasting so we altered her medication,” he remembers.
If you have medical issues, consulting a doctor before you begin your fast is paramount as he or she can modify your diet and medication. “Diabetic patients lose a lot of water from their bodies, so we advise them to not sit in a very cold place in the day as they will get dehydrated,” says Mohideen. “We ask them to adjust the AC’s temperature and monitor the number of times they urinate,” he adds. Fasting while recovering from a medical illness that requires you to be on antibiotics is not recommended.
FASTING AND EATING HEALTHY
Mumbai-based Sandeep Sachdev, nutrition manager at Fitness First India, points out that one should eat a meal every two hours after breaking the fast. “People who fast will be on American time. So if they break their fast at 7.30pm that, technically, becomes their breakfast,” elaborates Sachdev. However, he also cautions that one must calculate his/her metabolism rate before fixing the the meals’ quantity. “Do not go for intense workouts. Instead, go for a jog or moderate activity,” he adds.
Deepa Awchat, founder of Goa Portuguesa, agrees that those on a fast should not have one heavy meal at a time. “Avoid food that is too spicy, oily and tough to digest, like red meat. Replace fried food with steamed, grilled or barbecued food.” Root vegetables like carrots and potatoes and fruits such as bananas and apples give energy, she adds. “While fruits like watermelon and mosambi will keep you hydrated, they are not high on energy. Considering that those who are fasting are not supposed to even swallow saliva, they must add coconut water and juices to their meal.”