There is a lot of emphasis on eating the right food for Iftar to help people sustain their day-long fast during Ramadan, but hydration is just as important to avoid fatigue and lethargy. According to experts, water constitutes nearly 60 percent of your body weight and is essential to regulate your body’s temperature and electrolyte balance, as well as its metabolic activities.
Dehydration sets in when your body is deprived of water during long fasting hours, and simultaneously loses moisture through metabolic activities such as respiration and perspiration. Dehydration symptoms include dizziness, dry mouth, weakness and sluggishness. The best way to stay hydrated and handle the water loss is to choose the right foods during Suhour and Iftar.
People need at least seven to eight glasses of water through the day, but considering that the fast is over 14 hours, it might be difficult to have so much water intake during Iftar to Suhour. Hence, it is better to have Suhour closer to dawn and not in the hours close to midnight and you must choose salads, fruits, green smoothies, and high fiber food that retains water and ensures the cells remain naturally hydrated.
Here are some basic recipes that could help you stay hydrated from Suhour to Iftar:
■ Start the morning with a chia pudding made with coconut milk, and topped with some chopped apples, papaya and pineapple or an oatmeal porridge sprinkled with cinnamon and pieces of fresh pears or even a green smoothie with mango and flaxseeds.
■ Your selections to break the fast must include coconut water, thin probiotic yoghurt, laban, probiotic kefir, and cold-pressed green juices made from cucumber, spinach, celery, apples, berries.
■ After the Iftar meal, munch on some steamed or sautéed vegetables such as spinach, cucumbers, watercress, celery, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, fresh juicy tomatoes, zucchini, yellow orange bell peppers, green cabbage, and cauliflower as they have high water content.
■ Eating fruits and vegetables in the raw form is one of the best ways to keep up your hydration levels. You can even research interesting recipes of salads involving lettuce, spinach and raspberries or find ones with melons, tomatoes and a sprinkling of feta cheese. Even a cucumber celery salad with hummus dip can be smart choices to stay hydrated.
■ Fresh fruit juices or sorbets frozen in ice lollies are a good way to enjoy something cool on a hot evening.
■ Try cold soups like gazpacho, and cold cucumber yoghurt soups at Iftar.
■ Keep sipping water infused with mint, lemon, ginger, cucumber slices.
■ Snack on a popsicle made with coconut water and blueberries or a strawberry yoghurt popsicle.
■ Dinner should include wholesome salads made with chickpeas, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, coriander and celery drizzled with orange vinaigrette or Vietnamese rice paper rolls with avocado and tuna and cabbage. How about snacking on chicken lettuce wraps or some bell-peppers stuffed with lentils and Feta cheese that are healthy options.
■ One glass every hour from Iftar to Suhour will also help you, but avoid drinking large quantities of water all at once or a lot during a meal.
Note: These hydrating foods can be served with grilled fish or chicken to get the required protein that your body needs at this time.
■ Sugary beverages and sodas and soft drinks, fruit juices, ice creams, fizzy drinks or iced teas, and even the ones with artificial sweeteners are not recommended as these will leave you feeling more thirsty and dehydrated. Pick drinks that have higher water content.
■ Greasy and spicy food and difficult-to-digest meats including processed meats as well as spicy, oily foods should not be ingested. Spicy, oily preparations tend to take longer time to digest and draw more water from the body to process. They have also been linked to heartburn and overall discomfort.
■ You are also warned against drinking too many fruit juices or other sugar sweetened beverages either during Suhour or Iftar as this causes a sense of fullness and decreases the quality of digestion.
■ Freshly-squeezed fruit juices are an excellent source of nutrients and vitamins, but fructose is sugar. One glass of juice requires eight to 10 oranges. While one orange with fibers is five to 60 calories, eight oranges without fibre turns into a high calorie drink.