Every year on the 9th month of the Islam calendar, the holy month of Ramadan begins. This is the month that Allah revealed the Holy Quran on the Prophet Muhammad, which shows the teachings of Islam and as such, Muslims use this month for fasting, prayer, reflection and as an opportunity to thank Allah for what he has bestowed upon them.
Ramadan is a good opportunity for Muslims to strengthen their relationship with God. Fasting is an incredibly important part of Ramadan as practising Muslims (unless exempt) will go without food and water from sunrise to sunset. The only opportunity they have to eat and drink is during iftar and suhoor.
Because of the long days of fasting that are involved throughout the month of Ramadan, it is incredibly important that during these periods you are eating the right food. This article, in collaboration with Layla (@Halal_girl), is going to discuss in a bit more detail some of the best foods you can eat during Iftar that won’t leave you feeling too full but will give you the energy necessary in order to carry on for the rest of the day.
When Is Iftar?
Iftar is a time of the day that you need to take advantage of, as during this period you have the opportunity to eat some food and replenish your energy levels. The time of Iftar varies from day to day so you should be sure to check a Ramadan timetable in order to keep up to date with when you can eat. During Iftar, you need to make sure that you are consuming plenty of food from all the major food groups. These include the likes of fruit and vegetables, meat, rice and alternatives.
Fruit and Vegetables
If you consider the advice provided by the Health Promotion Board then you will note that they recommend people have 2 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. As such, you should be having at least one serving of fruit and vegetables at both Iftar and Suhoor so that you are living in line with the advice of the Health Promotion Board.
Traditionally speaking during the month of Ramadan, Muslims will consume dates at the start of Iftar which has now come to symbolise the breaking of the fast in most places around the world. These are great foods to eat because they are a fantastic source of energy. Not only that but they are a good source of potassium and they help nerves and muscles function too. You should keep in mind that whilst these are good foods to eat at the start of your day, you shouldn’t have too many as they are high in sugar. If you eat too much sugar during Iftar you run the risk of crashing later in the evening and feeling sluggish and lethargic as a result.
Rice and Alternatives
If you want to keep your energy levels up throughout the day, then you need to ensure you are eating a lot of food that is full of carbohydrates. There are a number of benefits that come with eating carbohydrates and these include the fact that they are able to fuel your brain, they reduce bloating, they contain L-tryptophan which is an amino acid that makes you feel happier and they lower your risk of developing any kind of cardiac disease.
As such, it goes without saying that throughout Iftar you need to be consuming foods that contain carbohydrates to set you up for another elongated period of fasting the next day. Some examples of healthy food that contain carbohydrates include wholemeal bread, whole-grain noodles and brown rice. By eating these you will be filling your body with energy, minerals and fibre.
Meats and Alternatives
Our body absolutely needs protein in order to stay healthy and also continue to work the way that it should. As such, during Iftar, you should be sure to incorporate some protein-rich sources into your diet. There are plenty of different foods available to you which are filled with protein and so make sure the meals that you’re eating include some of the following:
- Dairy products
There are also some non-meat foods that are high in protein if you are not a fan of eating meat. Some of these foods include:
- Grain (meaning wheat, rice and corn)
- Legumes (meaning beans, peas and lentils)
It can be harder to remain healthy throughout Ramadan but that does not mean that you shouldn’t try. An easy way that you can stay healthy during the holy month is by limiting the amount of oil that you use when cooking. There are alternate methods available to you which include the likes of steaming, grilling, shallow frying and also baking.
If you do end up cooking with oils then you should be cautious about which ones you might use. Be sure to check their contents and pick one that is high in unsaturated fats. A good example of these oils includes the likes of Canola Oil and Soybean Oil.
Whilst it’s hard to escape the temptation of a freshly fried samosa or pakora at iftar time, I usually find the best and most satiating iftars are those that are high in protein and filled with greens and healthy grains. Examples of dishes that I’ve enjoyed eating for iftar:
- Chicken and barley soup
- Shawarma chicken with tabbouleh (https://www.halalgirlabouttown.com/chicken-shawarma/)
- Salmon served in a sun-dried tomato and garlic cream sauce (https://www.halalgirlabouttown.com/creamy-garlic-salmon-with-sundried-tomatoes/)
- An assortment of dips: whipped feta garlic dip (https://www.halalgirlabouttown.com/whipped-feta-garlic-dip/ ) and a smoked aubergine dip (https://www.halalgirlabouttown.com/roasted-aubergine-dip/)
Of course, moderation is key so I most definitely will be helping myself to a pastry or even a slice of that cheesecake post iftar! If I’m heading out for iftar, I’ll skip the heavily fried food restaurants and my first choice would be a Malaysian restaurant, like Normah’s, Putera Puteri and Satay House, where a curry laksa ticks all the boxes for me.
Do You Want to Stay on Top of Islam News?
The month of Ramadan is a fantastic opportunity for you to form a stronger connection with Allah and also be able to truly appreciate everything that you already have. That being said, fasting for the month is hard to do at times as you may well find yourself lacking in energy and feeling sluggish throughout the day because of it. In order to avoid this as much as possible, you should ensure that you are eating food during Iftar and Suhoor that is good for you and will successfully replenish your energy levels. Some good options are those listed above.
If you would like to be kept up to date with other news during Ramadan such as exercising and looking after your mental health, then be sure to follow the blog at Rizq. Here, you will be kept up to date with different topics pertaining to Ramadan as well as much more surrounding the Muslim faith.