The month of Ramadan is a time of fasting for Muslims.
What does fasting during Ramadan mean? It means no food or drink, not even water, during the day. Every day, fasting starts after sunrise, and ends after sunset. Many Muslims stay up late into the night and may choose to sleep during the day during fasting hours. Ramadan is also a time to focus on prayer, and a time to help the poor by donating and giving to those less fortunate. This post will focus on eating and drinking well if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Pregnant, breastfeeding, the sick, and elderly are exempt from fasting; they can make it up another time. Or, instead of fasting, they can donate a specific amount to charity, fidyah. Some may choose to fast even while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Have a discussion with your health care provider before fasting.
It is recommended not to fast during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but it is possible to eat and drink well, and feed your baby well during this time, if you do fast.
Suhoor, the meal just before sunrise, is an important meal of the day because this is the last time you will eat until sunset.
Iftar, the meal after sunset, is a time to “break the fast” and celebrate with family and friends.
It is important to eat well between iftar and suhoor (sunset to sunrise). Sleep during the day if you are able to.
If you choose to fast, here are 6 tips to eat well and stay hydrated during the hours you can eat and drink during Ramadan:
- Plan ahead. Make sure you have the food available to you throughout Ramadan.
- At suhoor, eat foods that keep you fuller longer. Complex carbohydrates and high fibre foods, like oatmeal and sweet potatoes, will stave off hunger. Add protein foods, like meat and lentils, and healthy fats, like nuts and peanut butter, to keep you fuller even longer.
- At iftar, choose foods that quickly turn to sugar to give you energy right away, like dates, figs, yogurt, and fruits.
- Drink about 10 cups of fluid/day from sunset to sunrise. Choose water, milk, and 100% fruit juice. Keep water with you to sip throughout the night.
- Pace you meals between iftar and suhoor. It is important not to under-eat or over-eat. Be aware when you are starting to get hungry, for example, when you may start thinking about food, usually every 2-3 hrs or so.
- Continue to take your prenatal vitamin with water every day in the non-fast hours.
The day after Ramadan, the festival of Eid-al-Fitr, is a time to celebrate and eat during the day!
Remember that if you choose to fast and you are not feeling well, you can stop the fast anytime for you to eat and drink. You can always make up the days at a later time.
Have more questions on eating healthy during Ramadan? Speak directly with a health professional at Toronto Public Health on e-chat or call 416-338-7600.