How To Eat During Ramadan

RAMADAN IS THE MONTH WHEN PEOPLE REWARD THEMSELVES WITH FOOD ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT NO MATTER WHAT THEY EAT AFTER A DAY OF FASTING THEY WON’T GAIN WEIGHT. AND YET FASTING IS NOT THE SAME AS STARVING BUT RATHER AN EXCELLENT FORM OF SELF-CONTROL, AND THE GREATEST WILLPOWER IS NEEDED AFTER THE FAST IS BROKEN.

Changing the number and times of meals and breaking with one’s normal nutritional rhythm slows the metabolism. So a failure to heed the principles of proper nutrition can cause problems such as headaches, dizziness, carelessness, forgetfulness, somnolence, irritability, indigestion, bloating, sour stomach and general malaise, as well as lowering efficiency.

THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN RAMADAN

Throughout the month choose foods that are filling, that don’t slow down the digestion, and that don’t cause the blood sugar to fluctuate. Stay away from dishes and beverages that cause heartburn and thirst.

In place of foods that rapidly drive up blood sugar levels, choose foods high in fiber such as whole meal bread, multi-grain breads and rye bread, whole-wheat pasta and brown rice, fruits, vegetables and legumes, walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds etc.

Serve food lukewarm to avoid problems like upset stomach and gas. And to prevent indigestion, take post-prandial infusions of rosemary, fennel or mint, always lukewarm and with a slice of lemon.

Gastrointestinal distress may arise due to decreased intake of fruits and vegetables. Vegetable juices may be prepared to prevent this. In particular, consume large quantities of sweet red peppers, tomatoes and mint tea following the breaking of the fast.

To prevent constipation and maintain a healthy balance of intestinal flora, regularly consume probiotic products such as kefir, yoghurt, milk and oatmeal.
Snack on dried jujube to stimulate the digestive system and control the blood sugar.

A craving for sweets is a frequent problem if you are fasting. Choose milk puddings, ice cream, sorbets and fruit salads to satisfy such cravings.

Dampen your appetite for sugar by sprinkling cinnamon generously on fruit, sweets, milk and yoghurt as well as adding it to herbal infusions.

Dates are a staple of the Ramadan meal for their high-fiber content which does not cause sudden spikes in blood sugar. High in nutritional value and low in calories, they also satisfy the craving for a sweet.

The sweets that take the place of the fruits and vegetable dishes that disappear during Ramadan invite extra kilos. To control weight, prevent constipation and meet the body’s increased need for vitamins and minerals, it is important to consume at least five portions of fruits and vegetables daily.

CALORIE TRAP

Do your shopping in the morning hours before you start to feel hungry. Make a list of what you need, don’t buy anything you don’t need, and stay away from the particularly tempting aisles.

Break your fast with light foods and take leisurely walks for up to an hour afterwards. During the day, avoid vigorous activity that could exacerbate thirst on an empty stomach.

PROPER CHOICES FOR SAHUR:

Be sure to get up for this pre-dawn meal when low-calorie, easy-to-digest foods such as eggs, cheese, yoghurt and whole grain products should be consumed.

Stick-to-your-ribs foods for sahur include: oatmeal with skim milk or yoghurt, and a cocktail of fresh or dried fruit and oil seeds. Adding fiber or bran to this mixture will foster a feeling of fullness.

Things to avoid at sahur: Fried foods, yeast breads, anything with a lot of oil or sugar, sweets with sugar syrup, any very salty or very spicy dishes, Turkish ‘sucuk’ sausage and Turkish-style pastrami, honey and clotted cream, and carbonated beverages.

If you can’t resist pide (Turkish pitta, pronounced pee-deh), then control your intake. Those who have to have pide, the crowning glory of the Ramadan feast with its appetizing aroma, can choose a toasted pide sandwich and ayran (Turkish buttermilk) for sahur. A pide pancake (recipe below) with a glass of ayran makes a balanced meal in itself.

THE MOST CRITICAL MEAL OF THE FAST

Nothing is forbidden at iftar (the evening meal). But whatever you want to eat, consume only half what you normally do.
Don’t overload an empty stomach at iftar.

Start with soup or cacık (cold garlic yoghurt with cucumbers), stay away from the breakfast snacks and move right on to the main course.

If you insist on the snacks, then make that your evening meal following a small bowl of soup.

The ideal iftar meal: start with a bowl of lukewarm soup and a single slice of bread, take a short break and then have a plate of food and a salad. Balance the plate with half vegetables and half pilaff or pasta.

Things to stay away from at iftar: Oily, starchy foods and sweets are always harmful to the body. But it is also harmful during Ramadan to consume soup, snacks, main course and dessert one after the other in rapid succession on an empty stomach.

People with high blood pressure should avoid drinking large quantities of carbonated beverages and soda water.

Once a week you can reward yourself a little by eating the dishes you really like. Save this for the days when you are invited out for dinner.
Light meals and snacks can be taken between iftar and sahur to bolster the slowed metabolism.

Two to two and a half liters of water should be consumed per day. In addition to this, liquid intake should be increased with beverages such as ayran, fruit and vegetable juices, soup and stewed fruit compote. Make good use of the period between iftar and sahur order not to become dehydrated, especially when Ramadan falls in summer. 

PIDE PANCAKE

Crumble of small piece of pide with your fingers. Soften with one-fourth cup of skim milk. Break two eggs into the milk along with one tbsp of chopped olives, two tbsp of curd cheese (lor), a pinch of red pepper, a twist of colored peppercorns and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Brown on both sides in a teflon skillet.