Eat wisely after fasting, advises doctor
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With the start of Ramadan, changes in eating habits and daily routine affect different people in different ways.
Doctors are advising special care to people with chronic diseases and as well as asking them to eat healthily during the entire month.
To remain healthy during Ramadan, normal quantities of food from the major food groups — bread and cereal; milk and dairy products; fish, meat and poultry; beans and vegetables; and fruits — should be consumed. Fruits such as bananas are a good source of potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates.
In view of the long hours of fasting, we should consume the so-called ‘complex carbohydrates’ or slow digesting foods at Sahur so that the food lasts longer (about eight hours) making you less hungry during the day. “These complex carbohydrates are found in foods that contain grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils and wholemeal flour,” she added.
Dates are fat-free, cholesterol-free and are a good source of fibre, a key element to look out for during Ramadan. Dates also help in digestion, assimilate carbohydrates more easily and control blood sugar levels and fatty acids content in our bodies.
“It is also very important to drink plenty of water during Sahur and after Iftar,” said Dr Liza. Intake of large amounts of caffeine-containing beverages should be avoided especially at Sahur. Fried foods, very spicy foods and foods containing too much sugar such as sweets can cause health problems and should be limited during Ramadan. They cause indigestion, heartburn, and weight problems.
Avoid the following
- Fried and fatty foods
- Extra spicy foods and canned/tinned sauces
- Foods containing too much sugar and refined carbohydrates.
- Overeating at Sahur and Iftar.
- Caffeine-containing drinks like tea, coffee, colas, etc.
Ramadan is a chance for smokers to quit. A few days or a few weeks before the start of Ramadan, smokers should develop a willingness to take advantage of this month and quit the habit of smoking. Smokers are able to stop themselves during the day. However, they should try and control the urge even after breaking the fast.
“If not, this will become a habit again to smoke after breaking the fast and smokers will get used to it,” said Dr Liza Thomas, Specialist, Internal Medicine at Canadian Specialist Hospital. Finding an environment that keeps them away from smoking can also help.
Chronically ill must seek medical advice
Fasting itself may have a physiological impact on diseases affecting the cardiovascular, renal and gastrointestinal systems, such as hypertension, renal impairment and peptic ulcers.
“Although fasting is possible in many of these circumstances, it may not be well tolerated physiologically, particularly in older patients, and these may be the very patients who are most adamant that they wish to fast,” said said Dr Liza Thomas, Specialist, Internal Medicine at Canadian Specialist Hospital.
“A few months before Ramadan, you should undergo a pre-Ramadan medical assessment and consultancy with your healthcare team,” she added. People who have their diabetes under control using tablets should ensure that they visit their GP prior to Ramadan and discuss any possible changes to their drug regime which would facilitate safe fasting. Regular self-monitoring of your blood glucose is strongly advised. Low blood sugar levels are dangerous and if untreated may lead to fainting or fits, and hence must be strictly avoided. Feeling dizzy, sweaty and disorientated may all suggest a ‘hypo’ (hypoglycaemia). If this is suspected, you should immediately have a sugary drink, or place sugar or a sugar-rich sweet below the tongue.
Long-acting tablets increase the risk of having hypoglycaemia, and should be changed to a shorter-acting variety before you embark on a fast, she advised. Diabetics with further complications, such as angina or heart failure, stroke, retinopathy (eye disease), nephropathy (kidney disease) or neuropathy (nerve disease of feet/hands with numbness/loss of feeling) should seek careful advice from their doctor before starting a fast.