Turkish dietitian urges those who fast to avoid malnutrition during Ramadan

Turkish dietitian urges those who fast to avoid malnutrition during Ramadan

People should pay attention to what they consume in iftar, suhoor meals to stay healthy during Ramadan, says expert

By Zehra Nur Duz

ANKARA (AA) - A Turkish expert on Friday called on those who fast to avoid food with high fat, salt and sugar during Ramadan, a holy month in the Islamic calendar, for a healthy fasting.

“With the arrival of the Ramadan, the Muslim holy month for fasting, and the changing nutrition program, everyone is wondering what to consume not to gain weight or to maintain their weight,” Merve Birbilen, a dietitian at a wellness center in the capital Ankara, told Anadolu.

“Fasting does not prevent you from eating healthy. It is possible to spend Ramadan in a healthy way by paying attention to what you consume in iftar and suhoor meals,” Birbilen said.

During Ramadan, fasting begins after a pre-dawn meal known as suhoor and ends with iftar -- a fast-breaking dinner -- at sunset.

Breaking fast with water and dates can help the body's blood glucose levels quickly return to normal, she said.

“Afterwards, you can continue with a soup that is not too oily or salty. Then, you should rest for 10 to 15 minutes and then move on to the main dish,” Birbilen noted.

Birbilen underlined that people can consume protein sources such as meat, chicken, fish, or legumes or vegetable dishes with olive oil in the main course.

The dietician urged people to stay away from fried high-fat food, heavy pastries, as well as desserts with a lot of sugar and fat, during Ramadan.

“Do not forget to have a large salad bowl on your iftar table to prevent possible digestive problems,” she warned.

Those with digestive problems should also pay attention to liquid consumption and they should include pulpy food in their meals, she said.

“If needed, people may eat snacks 1.5-2 hours after iftar meal. Food such as fruit, nuts, yogurt, and kefir can be consumed as a snack. Milk puddings can also be preferred one to two times in a week,” she added.

Birbilen also highlighted that a brisk walk at an easy pace for 30-45 minutes at least an hour after iftar is significant to speed up metabolism.

- Suhoor meal crucial for healthy fasting

She strongly recommended suhoor meal during Ramadan, urging to avoid high-fat, salty, and sugary food.

“Consuming plenty of fatty and sugary foods at suhoor meal may cause you to feel hungry much earlier due to the rapid rise and fall of your blood sugar level,” Birbilen warned, adding: “Since these kinds of food will cause more water loss from the body, they will cause you to be more thirsty.”

Instead of consuming fatty pastries and pancakes for suhoor, people can prefer a classic breakfast plate, pancakes made of whole wheat flour, oaty omelete, or salad made up of burghul wheat (quinoa), she said.

“Protein sources such as eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt, and oily seeds such as walnuts and hazelnuts will increase your satiety time,” Birbilen added.

Ramadan began on March 23 and will continue through April 21 -- the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the month.

Ramadan is believed to be a time of intense spirituality as Muslims believe that the gates of heaven are open, and Allah's blessings and mercy are abundant.

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