A lot of people ask about extreme diets when it should really be about adopting a healthier lifestyle in Ramazan. Most of us either let ourselves completely go and we overindulge in food OR we find it the perfect month to lose weight because Eid is upon us and we obviously want to look our best. And while that’s understandable, what we should really strive for is a balance and our goal should always be our health.
Yet, there are a lot of misconceptions and myths about weight and Ramazan, and we just wanted to expand upon them so that you know what the best way to go about your diet during this month is.
To get more professional advice, we reached out to Saba Gul Hasan
She is founder of SGH and a certified nutritionist currently based in Lahore. While Saba does consultations, she also has a line of organic products – one of which is her peanut butter – which by the way is to die for. There’s nothing more pure and healthy than a spoon of that butter.
Anyway, going back to her advice, here’s what Saba had to say:
Ramazan is the perfect month to lose fat
This is a myth but at the same time, it isn’t. Ramazan is not meant for fat loss, rather it’s a perfect 40 cleansing routine which we mistake for a diet regime. A lot of people aim to sheds pounds when this the only month your body requires you to slow down mentally, physically and spiritually. The reason why this myth exists is that a lot of gyms and fitness trends market Ramazan as the perfect month to lose fat ONLY to look good on EID! While it is true that one can lose a few inches, one should also keep in mind that it doesn’t happen if you gorge on fatty fried foods, binge eat on iftaaris and look forward to raiding all the restaurants in Lahore just because your reward police has kicked in and you have food to satisfy the child in you.
Eating less at suhoor will help you lose fat/eating more at suhoor will keep your hunger away
Both are wrong. Eating less at suhoor for some means starving yourself unnecessarily and for others, it doesn’t really make a difference. It all boils down to what you really eat at iftaar which most individuals overindulge in. Overeating at suhoor is not a good idea either if you plan on sleeping right afterward. Hunger will strike if you have more or less food, the types of food you eat help you stay afloat during the day.
The i-only-eat-so-less-at-iftaar/i-don’t-eat-at-iftaar-at-all myth
Eating less at iftaar is not the key to whatever you are aiming for. Eating mindfully is what keeps you inches away from gaining weight or becoming weak and malnourished. Fresh juices made at home, dates, fruits, yogurt and food stuff which have a calming effect on the stomach help your body to come back to its functioning state. It’s like fuelling your body with the right kind of nutrients to give a jolt back to life. Having the wrong kind of carbs and sugars means that your blood sugar levels will spike and then drop suddenly which most of my patients go through after having fried foods and sugary drinks.
The right in your face foods which most of us ignore are:
- Dates: a staple of our rich Islamic tradition, packed with the perfect nutrients which rev up your digestive system
- Tukhme-rehan or tukhmalanga: commonly mistaken as chia seeds but actually are basil seeds, these gelatinous miracles coat the stomach lining, flush the GI tract and actually have a cooling effect on the body. Most of us feel warmed up and tired as iftaar reaches close. That is because your body is working extra hard and expending energy to keep your primary body functions at the optimum level.
- Fruit: found in the form of fruit chaat on the iftaar menu, fruit in any form be it raw or juiced is actually the perfect rehydrating drink. Just add fresh lemon, salt, pepper to any fruit juice you make at home. You’ll have the perfect fruit punch at every iftaar.
- Nuts, honey, and complex carbohydrates: all of which can be found in our granola have a profound effect on the stately levels. With the addition of honey, even diabetic patients won’t have to worry about blood sugar spikes as it sustains the glucose level and doesn’t let it drop to a low BP.
All in all, your focus should be on maintaining a healthy lifestyle in Ramazan
Of course, living in Pakistan, Ramazan comes with its challenges (namely pakoras, samosay, doodh soda, etc) but you don’t have to over-do it, nor is it alright to not eat anything and deprive your body of important nutrients. Our body requirements are all different, and as Saba rightly pointed out in our conversation, “if your fingerprint is the only unique one in the universe, what makes you think your body requirements aren’t?” So take care of your body and fitness through building up a healthier lifestyle in Ramazan.
Hence don’t go for diets and instead focus on a more balanced diet, not only in this month but in general too. Let us know if you want to know more about how to adopt a healthier lifestyle in Ramazan and we can loop in more nutritionists in the conversation.
Cover image via SGH