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Ramaḍān Tips – Health and Diet

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Mathabah.org
By Aysha Syed RN BScN

Eat Healthy Fats

There are different types of fats. Some types of fats are better for your body than others.

Try to avoid “Trans fats”, which are especially unhealthy. They are found in margarines, many fast foods, and some store-bought baked goods. Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats are healthier. When you cook, use oils with some healthier fats, such as olive oil and canola oil.

Avoid Fried Foods

Fried foods are unhealthy at any time of year, but especially during Ramaḍān.  These foods are high in fat and low in nutrients.  The process of frying foods takes away the foods nutritional value, so even all those healthy vegetables you fry become not so healthy.  These will make you heavy and less energized.

Fasting and Blood Pressure

People obeying low-calorie diets such as in Ramaḍān usually have a fall in blood pressure, especially during the first week. Antihypertensive drugs, especially calcium channel blockers and diuretics, should be reassessed by your Family Doctor.  Depending on the severity of the hypertension, medication can normally be lowered or discontinued.  Some signs of low blood pressure are:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Lack of concentration
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Cold, clammy, pale skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Thirst

If you are experiencing symptoms above, discuss these with your Family Doctor.

Fasting and Diabetes

Most diabetic patients will see an improvement in hyperglycemia during the course of Ramaḍān. Blood sugar concentrations will start to fall within the first one to two weeks, and remain lower for the rest of the fasting period.  Blood sugar should be monitored more carefully and followed by your Primary Care Provider. Those patients taking low levels of insulin or an oral hypoglycemic drug will usually be able to discontinue therapy. Consult your Family Doctor, be extra vigilant of monitoring for signs of hypoglycemia such as:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating, cold clammy skin
  • Shakiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Extreme hunger
  • Tingling around the mouth
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures

It is important to check your blood sugar and break your fast early with a quick source of sugar in the case of the above symptoms.  Prolonged hypoglycemia can lead to permanent heart and brain injury.

Fasting and Pregnancy/ Breastfeeding

Fasting is medically contraindicated for lactating and pregnant women.  Pregnant and breast feeding women have an increased energy requirement for their bodies.  When the body is fasting, it begins to burn fat to use as energy, creating something called “ketones”.  Fasting while your body has increased energy demands (such as being pregnant or breast feeding) means there will be more ketones created.  Too many ketones in the body can cause illness, putting the person at increased risk for “ketoacidosis”.  Pregnant and Breastfeeding women need to consult their family doctors/ nutritionist/ health care providers.

Fruits and Vegetables.

Increase your Fruit and Vegetable intake.  Fruits and vegetables are a rich source of fiber, essential vitamin and minerals, as well as carbohydrates with a low glycemic index.  These will give you the energy boost and nutrients you need.

Stay Hydrated!

Drinking enough fluids and water in this hot weather is important. Drinking plain water is very beneficial.  Taking sips throughout the night to try to keep up with your 8 glasses a day.  Fresh fruit juices, coconut water, and yogurt drinks are also included in this. Milkshakes and smoothies with fruit and fiber are great.   Avoid soft drinks and artificially sweetened beverages.  These are a major source of added refined sugar which throws off your natural blood sugar curve.

Increase Your Fiber

Replace refined grains (eg, white bread, white rice, refined and sweetened cereals) with whole grains (eg, whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole grain cereals or oatmeal), which have higher fiber content. These will help you feel fuller and burn slower, giving you longer energy.

For the Smokers

When the urge to smoke creeps up:

  • Avoid places and situations where you will be tempted to smoke. Change your normal routine so it doesn’t include smoking
  • Go for a walk instead of smoking, exercise is a healthy alternative to smoking and has similar effects on mood
  • Nicotine helps you relax. You may find yourself more easily agitated. It’s best to avoid people or situations that will cause stress.  Find other ways to manage your stress (i.e. prayer, meditation, soothing music, massage, etc).

Smoking, both first hand and second hand, is bad for us all.  Ramaḍān is a perfect time to take some positive steps towards decreasing your nicotine intake.  If you have cut out smoking during the day for Ramaḍān, try incorporating this past the 30 days of Ramaḍān and into your everyday routine.  Your health, your wallet and family/friends with thank you.


Protein is important for the body to be able to maintain and repair itself.  Eat a variety of protein-rich foods, including seafood, lean meat such as poultry, eggs, beans, peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.

Fasting in the Heat

Muslims of all ages who are exerting themselves during the day (especially outside) need to be extra careful in the July heat.  This can include people who work outside (i.e. construction workers, police/fire, etc), athletes, and children.  The combination of heat and increased exertion (especially outside) makes you more susceptible to conditions like heat stroke, dehydration, and exertional heat illness.Take precaution by staying well hydrated during non-fasting hours, staying in the shade and wearing sun protective equipment, avoiding activity in the heat/humidity, taking breaks to cool off and rest more often than you normally would, making wudu with cold water to cool off during breaks,and paying attention to your body and stopping activity when you start to feel exhausted, light headed, or develop other symptoms.

If you, or someone suffers from heat exhaustion follow the steps below:

  • Contact Emergency Medical Aid
  • Move the person to a shaded or air conditioned area
  • Have the person lay on their back
  • Elevate the person’s feet above the level of their head (ie, raise their legs)
  • Remove excess clothing and equipment.
  • Cool the person: i.e. cold towels all over the body, running cool water over them using a shower or hose, using ice packs/ cold bottles etc.
  • Give fluids to drink. Rehydrate the patient with chilled water or a sports drink if they are not nauseated, vomiting, or unconscious
  • Transport the patient to an emergency department if they do not improve

Ramaḍān and Sleep

With waking up for suhūr, extra prayers, and other demands of Ramaḍān, it can be difficult to get enough sleep.  Getting enough rest is important, a prominent theory states that sleep restores tissue and prepares the body and the brain for the next day. A night without sleep will lead to poor performance the next day.Try adjusting your schedule to try and sleep earlier, aiming for 4-5 hours of solid sleep before suhūr, and taking naps during the day when possible will help you keep your body rested.  If you are able to adjust your work schedule, this is an added bonus.

Chew Your Food

After a full day of fasting, it can be easy to eat as fast as you can once you break your fast.  Fight this feeling and taking time to chew your food thoroughly has many health benefits. Chewing your food will make you feel fuller and more satisfied longer.   This is partly because the more you chew, the more you are breaking down the food, and the more nutrients your body is able to retain. Along with this, chewing fully allows your natural appetite inhibiting hormones to kick in (leptin).  Leptin takes about 20 min to start to kick in.  This is important to avoid over eating and prevent bloating and gas.

Cut Out the Junk

Think of fasting as a physical and spiritual cleanse.  As you refrain from worldly things that are toxic to the soul, keep yourself away from unhealthy junk food that is toxic to your body.  Remember our bodies have a right over us, and you can reap additional rewards of this month with a healthier body.

Don’t Skip Meals

With the long hours of July, it can be difficult to maintain your calorie intake. Eating three balanced and healthy meals and keeping up with your water intake is key to staying on track.  Space out your meals throughout the night, (one at iftar, one a few hours after before sleeping, and one at suhoor).  Skipping one of these meals is often tempting (I struggle with Suhoor myself), but even having something small like cereal, fruits or yogurt will release energy and keep delay hunger pains.

This answer was collected from Mathabah.org. It’s an Islamic educational institute based in Canada. The questions are generally answered by Sheikh Yusuf Badat and Sheikh Omar Subedar.

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