Advice from Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare (JHAH) on how to remain healthy this Ramadan.

Well-being: Nutrition During the Holy Month of Ramadan

Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare (JHAH) supports you and your family to remain healthy during Ramadan. The following information can help manage your fast. If you have any further questions, please talk to your doctor.

What is the best way to break my fast?

It is best to start your Iftar meal with three dates and a cup of warm low-fat soup before going to prayer. You may also have a cup of low-fat buttermilk, but make sure it is not chilled (chilled drinks do not promote digestion). After prayer, continue with your main Iftar meal.

Can I delay Iftar until after Maghrib prayer?

It is best to break your fast as soon as permissible.

Why do I feel sleepy after eating my Iftar meal?

The best way to avoid this is to:

  • Begin your Iftar meal with three dates and a cup of warm low-fat soup.
  • Limit your food consumption.
  • Chew your food well.
  • Minimize your consumption of fats and oils.
  • Regularly consume small quantities of fluids between Iftar and Suhoor.
  • Walk regularly (but wait for 2-3 hours before exercise).

What is the best time for Suhoor and what should I eat?

The best time for Suhoor is as close to Fajr as possible. Suhoor should comprise slow-to-digest food (for example, cheese, labnah, yogurt, lentils, beans, and oatmeal), which will reduce hunger for longer. Suhoor should not be heavy.

What is the best time for and type of exercise during Ramadan?

The best time for exercise is in the evening (two hours after Iftar). A 30 – 45-minute brisk walk is a good option.

What should I eat at Iftar?

An Iftar meal should be well-balanced, nutritious, and low in fat. A well-balanced menu could include: three dates, one cup of low-fat soup or low-fat laban, one cup of steamed rice or pasta, one cup of salad, one cup of cooked vegetables, one portion of lean meat or baked fish, and one or two baked samboosa. Remember to drink adequate fluids (especially water) between Iftar and Suhoor.

Well-being: Nutrition During the Holy Month of Ramadan

I have high cholesterol. What food should I avoid?

  • Do not use palm oil, coconut oil, ghee, butter, or animal fat in food preparation.
  • Use skimmed milk, butter milk, or yogurt in your meals.
  • Limit your intake of egg yolk and organ meat (liver, kidney, heart, brain).
  • Replace sweets with fresh fruits.
  • Replace heavy cream with non-fat labnah.
  • Avoid pancakes and dishes containing eggs.
  • Avoid commercial samboosa.

How much water I should drink?

Between eight to 10 cups between Iftar and Suhoor is recommended. But do not drink more than one to two cups every two to three hours.

How many dates can I eat?

Between three and five dates per day. Each date provides approximately 20 kcal and contains one teaspoon of sugar.

What should I eat (or drink) as a snack during the night?

Choose from the following:

  • One cup of low-fat milk, yogurt, or buttermilk.
  • One fresh fruit or one cup of unsweetened fruit juice.
  • Two slices of low-fat cheese or two tablespoons of low-fat labnah.
  • Two slices of whole wheat bread or one cup of oatmeal.

I have diabetes and I want to fast. What should I do?

Speak with your doctor, as he/she may adjust your medication. Some diabetic patients can fast safely; however, some are advised not to fast.

Well-being: Nutrition During the Holy Month of Ramadan

Can children fast?

It is not recommended that small children fast. Older children may fast for a few hours (from morning to noon, for example) to train them and to share fasting values.

Can pregnant or lactating women fast?

It is not recommended that pregnant or lactating woman fast. If a pregnant or lactating woman wants to fast, it is essential to speak with a doctor first.

How do I reduce thirst during Ramadan?

  • Drink eight to 10 cups of water between Iftar and Suhoor.
  • Increase fluid intake in other ways, such as with low-fat soup, milk, and unsweetened fruit juice.
  • Replace caffeinated drinks with decaffeinated refreshments.
  • Reduce salt intake.
  • Limit consumption of meat.
  • Do not exercise in the heat of the day.
  • Reduce consumption of fried and spicy food.

How do I reduce hunger during Ramadan?

  • Divide meals into three sittings: Iftar, midnight, and Suhoor.
  • Delay Suhoor to just before Fajr (as close to sunrise as permitted).
  • Consume more protein at Suhoor.
  • Consume more slow-to-digest foods at Suhoor.
  • Increase fiber intake at Suhoor (for example, whole wheat bread, legumes, salads, vegetables, and dried fruit).
  • Reduce intake of sweets.
  • Do not exercise during the day.
  • Hunger should subside as Ramadan progresses and the body adapts.

Is it good to sleep after Iftar or Suhoor?

Sleep after Iftar or Suhoor is not recommended. After consuming a meal, the digestive system needs to digest food and absorb nutrients. However, the digestive system slows down during sleep.

— The Arabian Sun: April 03, 2023