TWEAKING MEALS DURING SUMMER RAMADAN
By Hira Mateen
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you read these words, pakoras (fritters), samosas, fruit chaat, dahi baray? Yes you guessed that right. The first thing that comes to the mind is Ramadan and specially iftar.
Summers and Ramadan:
For many years, the Ramadan is arriving in the months of summer. The whole summer day and approximately 16 hour long fast is sufficient to make us super thirsty by the time of iftar. This is one reason why the drinks occupy a major part of our stomach while we break our fast. And then we tend eat a variety of salty and spicy fried foods during iftar almost daily that further makes us thirsty.
Also consuming large amount of water during iftar makes us sluggish and lazy which hampers our ability to actively perform ibadah as well. And it’s not humanly possible to consume lots of glasses at suhoor to prevent us from getting thirsty throughout the day. On the other hand, dehydration has its own consequences on human body in the form of headaches, low blood pressure, UTIs etc.
As per my experience of 16 hour fasting in summers, I have noticed that having fried foods daily in large quantities tends to make you thirsty and in the limited iftar to suhoor time, we are unable to consume the required amount of water that can keep us well hydrated to replenish the required water in take of the fasting hours as well as the water needed after having fried foods that we take in iftar.
After spending a few Ramadan this way and getting affected by dehydration, alhamdulillah Allah showed me a few solutions. I am going to share with you all those diet alterations as they will surely benefit you during summer Ramadan and even otherwise too, inshaAllah.
Tips for Suhoor Meal:
- Make sure to MUST make yogurt a part of your suhoor meal. Yes a MUST part. This is tried and tested alhamdulillah. I cannot emphasize the importance of taking few spoonful of yogurt in suhoor. Even in your daily routine after consuming a food that demands drinking water (e.g fried foods) taking yogurt helps keep thirst away.
I talked to a nutritionist last year about how yogurt works for hydration. Yogurt has more than 80% water content in it along with potassium. This electrolyte helps retain water in body and suppresses thirst.
- Another MUST have in suhoor is banana. This again contains potassium that helps retain water in body and suppresses thirst. Banana has otherwise a lot of benefits for human body as well hence it must be a part of daily meals.
- You can have a few slices of cucumber in suhoor as well. Cucumber contains more than 90% water. Best way and the sunnah way is to pair it with dates. Abdullah ibn Ja’far reported: I saw the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.w) eating fresh dates with cucumbers. [Sahih Muslim 2043]
Tips for Iftar Meal:
- This might not feel comfortable to your palate as no iftar meal is considered complete without salty and spicy Pakoras (fritters), samosas and kachoris but AVOID having salty fried foods daily during your iftar meal till the time Ramadan falls during summer months.
Oily foods and specially if they are salty and spicy demand water so that they can be gulped down and trigger thirst which will make you uncomfortable during a long summer fast.
I have been practicing this since a few Ramadan and alhamdulillah this is super helpful. No daily consumption of plates and plates of salty and spicy Pakoras (fritters), samosas and kachoris. Once in a while I do eat these fried food in iftar time but that too in a very small amount followed by having plain yogurt and cucumber to counter it’s effect on thirst and hydration.
- Again, this will not make fizzy drink lovers happy but yes you have to AVOID daily consumption of carbonated/fizzy drinks at iftar especially during long summer fasting days when all you body desires is water and hydrating foods to quench the thirst and retain the water for hydration.
Research is being carried out on its dehydrating effect on body. The high sugar content is thought to cause more harm than benefit.
Consume water, fresh fruit juices, water infused with mint and lemon juice (leemu paani) and drinks that are more healthy and help quench the thirst and retain hydration in true sense.
Take Home Message:
Till the time Ramadan falls in summer season with 16 hour duration of fasting, take special care of your suhoor and iftar meals. You have sufficient 11 months to enjoy all kinds of food you wish to eat.
Ramadan is a time of feeding the soul by reconnecting with Allah, with Quran, with ibadah, with duas, adopting more sunnah acts in your life so you need to be physically healthy, fit, active and energetic.