During the extended period of fasting — interspersed with feasting — in the holy month of Ramzan, take special care of your food, advises MUFFAZAL LAKDAWALA
With its secular heart, India seems to celebrate a festival every 15 days, or so it seems. We move from one fast to the next and one celebration to the next, which makes it really important to set a standard for you to maintain, in terms of food. The idea is that whether you are fasting or you are at the buffet at a big party, you make the right choices.
First, the Fast…
If you are undertaking an extended fast, such as for Ramzan, you must take special care.
l Stay hydrated as much as possible by sipping on coconut water, or water mixed with salt and sugar.
l Choose to break your fast with meals that include grilled, steamed, baked meats, lots of vegetables, healthy grains and salads. Substitute rich desserts with homemade sweets that use sugar substitutes, or just eat fruit or dried fruit.
l Eat at least two small meals after iftaar to keep the body going. One large meal will cause indigestion or acidity. Add complex carbohydrates and fibres to the meals.
l For your morning meal, choose a bowl of oatmeal or simple upma made with a super grain.
And Then We Feast…
What most of us don’t know or realise is that our stomach is a muscle and has the capacity to expand. When we overeat, our stomach stretches to accommodate the extra food. Sometimes this could cause the valve between the stomach and oesophagus — food pipe — to loosen, which could result in stomach acid to come back up into the food pipe resulting in acidity or heart burn. It is important to remember that it takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to signal the brain when we are full, and for us to recognise the feeling of fullness. Therefore, it is best to chew food well, savour each bite and eat slowly. This will give you enough time to feel full, and not overeat.
Overindulgence simply means an excess of anything enjoyable, and an overindulgence of food can bring along with it a host of problems, such as bloating, abdominal cramps, excess wind, diarrhoea, acidity and heartburn. These can all be dealt with but the long-term consequences of overeating are excessive weight gain, type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases, all of which pose grave risks.
These are our top tips to stay healthy even as you rush from a party to a wedding, and then back again:
l Never go to a party on an empty stomach; always make sure you have a small snack such as a fruit, or a bowl of soup or salad. This will stop you from binge eating when the appetisers start making the rounds, and make sure you stay away from the buffet, nibbling on the cheeses.
l Serve yourself smaller portions at first and allow yourself a second helping only if you are still hungry. Make sure there is some salad on the plate, and more vegetables and grilled meats than anything greasy.
l Share dessert, so you get a taste of it, but don’t feel compelled to eat a whole serving.
l Too many drinks cause dehydration, headaches, sensitivity to light and noise, and irritability. Choose a good wine, wine spritzer, craft beer or single malt, rather than a sugar-laden cocktail. As you finish a drink, take a break, and have a couple of glasses of water. If you are a teetotaller, choose a fresh lime soda, fresh juice or, at worst, a diet soda, rather than overly sweet mocktails.
l Stay motivated and get back on track as soon as the festivities are over. Go back to your normal routine and don’t procrastinate. Go for a run, swim, or to the gym. Even if your calendar is full, take the stairs, or work in a 30-minute walk or, even, a warm-up. Moving your body makes everything better.
l Even if you’ve been very good the previous night with your food and drink choices, keep your meals the next day as fresh, simple and nutritious as possible with lots of salads, fruit, and dishes such as a khichdi or curd rice. Adding in grains such as quinoa helps.
l Add in fibre such as Isabgol to your daily routine. It will help detox your body.
l After an overindulgence of cold drinks, alcohol and juices, it’s best to stick to water to keep hydrated. Water is the best, followed by buttermilk and coconut water. So the day after an event, make sure you’re drinking up.Just say no, even if you are being forced to eat a dessert or a deep-fried item. If you’ve been gifted too many boxes of chocolates or sweets, give them away!
l Get your blood-work done and visit your doctor often, especially if you are diabetic. The Eat-right Prescription, Embassy Books