Wed, 22 March 2023
The Daily Ittefaq

Digestive discomforts during Ramadan

Update : 26 Apr 2022, 14:19

Eating fried and oily food during iftar creates the emergence of abdominal issues and fatigue. After breaking the fast, many of us suffer from gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, reflux, constipation, fatigue and discomfort. 

When you haven’t eaten all day and your blood sugar is low, you will feel like all you need is sugar. But what your body needs is not sugar per se, but simply fuel. If you fuel yourself with good protein and vegetables, the feeling will go away. If you fuel your body with processed carbs and refined sugars, you will feel heavy and exhausted because these foods do not nourish your body on a cellular level.

Despite the initial excitement to start eating after hours of abstaining, it’s important to take a few minutes to plan your food intake before sitting at the table.

Grill or bake your proteins instead of deep-frying them and avoid breaded varieties

Bloating happens when eating your meal too fast, plunging into a large, varied meal, swallowing air with the food that you eat, not chewing enough, eating fried and salty foods, and indulging in sweets.

The slowing down of your metabolism due to prolonged periods of not eating, and the stress caused by your hormones because of the feeling of hunger, are additional factors.

For those who experience bloating, constipation or fatigue after breaking fasts, here are some tips to help improve your post-iftar issues.

Many of the above problems can be avoided by wiser dietary choices. Both the iftar and suhoor meals should consist of healthy and nutritious ingredients with normal portion sizes.

Don’t mix proteins and starches. When you do that, you slow down your digestion and the food sits in your belly for many hours, causing discomfort. This is because proteins take the most time for the body to break down, so it’s best to combine them with easily digestible, leafy green or non-starchy vegetables that aid in the absorption process.

Grill or bake your proteins instead of deep-frying them and avoid breaded varieties. You can substitute almond flour or flax meal for flour.

Fill at least half of your plate with vegetables, whether a salad or cooked vegetables, or a combination of both.

Avoid any fruit with your meal. Fruit is made up of simple sugars that pass through the stomach easily and digest quickly. However, when they’re eaten with complex foods that take longer to digest, like protein and starches, fruit will linger in the stomach and start to ferment, leading to bloating or an upset stomach. Wait at least 3 hours after iftar to consume your fruits.

Foods that are high in fat can sometimes cause bloating because they’re slow to digest. So instead of eating a fatty, greasy meal like piajus or begunis, try a low-fat option like grilled chicken and salad.  

When you eat foods that are high in salt, your body holds onto fluids you eat and drink. That can make you feel bloated. 

People observing the fast this month should try low salted dairy products and avoid pickles, olives and smoked food products altogether. Spicy food such as hot pepper, chili powder and tabasco causes the stomach to release more acid, which causes irritation, bloating and gastric discomfort.  

Use raw honey instead of traditional sugar syrup on your desserts.

Avoid bread with your eggs or foul at suhur time, as bread is very dehydrating and as a result, will make you thirsty throughout the day. Instead, have your eggs with avocados, tomatoes and greens—all very hydrating.

When you have a big amount of food at one time, the pressure in your stomach will be high, which will increase the gastric acid levels leading to heartburn.

Abdominal problems can also be avoided by chewing meals slowly and enjoying the taste. Eat slowly and enjoy every bite during iftar, especially after several hours of abstaining.

Always keep track of your water intake and try not to fill yourself up with food. 

Some people find themselves suffering from constipation during Ramadan for various reasons. Constipation occurs mainly when your bowel movements are slow.

The main reason for facing constipation during Ramadan might be lower activity and movement levels during fasting hours, insufficient fluid intake and inadequate fibre intake.

For people who feel dehydrated, fruit juice is an ideal choice for iftar

Liquids that contain caffeine, such as coffee and soft drinks have a dehydrating effect and need to be avoided when constipated, rather drink 2.5 liters of water between iftar and sohur, fresh fruit juice, low fat or nonfat milk and fat free soups.

Another way to get rid of constipation is through choosing whole-wheat bread (rather than white) and fibre containing cereals (rather than refined). Consider adding legumes daily to your food: lentil, beans, quinoa and oats. 

Most importantly, a health tip to always keep in mind is to stay active. Physical activity is vital as it maintains a healthy body and prevents various diseases.

Working out is beneficial at all times of the day even when fasting, and the right time to exercise in Ramadan should be determined by the person’s physical ability and preference. 

Refrain from sitting for long hours watching tv or having long naps, especially after breaking your fast. Consider 30 mins walks 4 to 5 times per week.

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