KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 – More than halfway into Ramadan, do you notice yourself snacking more often at night?
To compensate for the day’s abstinence from food and water, many people plan for large meals at iftar (breaking fast) and sahur (pre-dawn meal).
Others choose to eat several small meals throughout the night to replenish their energy and stay full longer. Whichever way you decide to eat, it is important for people who fast to consume balanced and high nutrient food to maintain strength and vitality.
According to Lim Chain Yin, Southeast Asia (SEA) Nutrition Lead, Mondelez International: “Ramadan fasting can be an effective and natural way for the body to rest its digestive system, detox and heal. To gain health benefits from fasting, it is important to eat healthily and mindfully. Eat in moderation and incorporate healthy snacking habits to help your body recover necessary nutrients for a positive fasting experience,”
Snack To Replenish Water And Nutrients After Iftar
At iftar, the desire to overeat your favourite or rare Ramadan dishes can be overpowering. Having a moderate and balanced iftar is important to avoid blood sugar spikes and poor digestion.
“Break your fast with a date and water, before eating a complete and balanced dinner. Then, pause to allow your body to digest what you’ve eaten before having desserts or snacks,” Lim suggested.
Among the best food to have after iftar are low-sugar desserts like soup or bubur to hydrate our body, fruit platters or mixed vegetable salads to recover the fluid level inside our body, nuts and berries as they are typically rich in good fat, and vitamins and minerals to also help you gain energy.
To power through or energise after your Tarawih night prayer, drink plenty of water and eat small portions of food with low sugar, salt and oil. Instead of fried noodles, sweetened tea or coffee and sugary desserts for moreh (small meal after Terawih), snack on banana, almond, and beverages like warm milk or plain tea that have been known to promote good sleep. Make sure to stop eating at least 2-3 hours before going to bed to avoid digestive problems.
Light But Energising Sahur Makes A World Of Difference
If you have missed eating sahur in recent days, you may find the body taking a longer time to adjust to fasting.
While some will find it more challenging to have an appetite so early in the morning, or prefer to eat a heavy meal before sleeping, a well-planned sahur can help the body feeling energized and curb feelings of hunger and thirst during the day.
High-protein and fibre-rich food are especially recommended for sahur as it takes slower to digest so you can feel fuller for a longer period.
This includes chicken, egg, whole grains like oats and barley, and beans. You can also incorporate calcium-rich food like milk, yogurt, cheese or vegetables to stay full and hydrated.
For those who struggle to wake up and find their appetite, Lim suggested that you prepare simple food or snacks before sleeping.
“Easy and complete food like a boiled egg, wheat crackers or cereal, and cheese are easy to prepare and eat immediately for a quick sahur. Complete your meal with nutrient powerhouses like dates or banana and a glass of milk that helps you feel full and energised longer in the day.”
Mindful Snacking To Boost Fasting Benefits This Ramadan
Ramadan fasting practice gives you an opportunity to reset eating habits that can last beyond the holy month. Mindful snacking is an approach to eating with intention and attention.
It is about being conscious of what it is you want to eat, why you’re eating, and how it makes you feel. Use all your senses to savor your snack.
Focus on the smells, tastes, textures, shapes and colors of your food to fully enjoy your snacking experience. These practices would not only provide greater satisfaction but also lead to better portion management and reduce the likelihood of overeating.
In fact, Mondelēz International’s State of Snacking report reveals people today are frequently replacing main meals with small energising and nutritious snacks, in addition to having snacks as a way of improving their mood.
Good eating habits can have benefits that last a lifetime.
This Ramadan, take the time to reflect on how you have been eating in the past week and incorporate some of the recommendations shared throughout this article to experience how mindful eating and snacking can make a difference to your body.