Rola Ghaddar, Intuitive Eating Dietitian, joined our Wellness Wednesday on Instagram Live on April 7th, 2021 to talk about preparing your body and your mind for Ramadan.

All the questions asked during the Live session are answered below. Let’s have a look!

An Intuitive Eating Dietitian differs from other dietitians because they help people connect to their bodies, with their hunger and fullness. They help them develop a healthy relationship with food rather than following food rules and restrictions. 

Preparing Ourselves For Ramadan

Q: How to prepare our mind for the fast?

A: Set an intention for your fast. You need to figure out why you want to fast and what you hope to take away from it. This fast is not about food, it is spiritual also. You have to connect to your intentions before the fast because it will help you keep going and stay on course. 

A clear intention will help you a lot by connecting to yourself. Some people consider Ramadan as an excuse to lose weight. However, you need to see the bigger picture, and when you do, the stress about food and losing weight will be relieved. Each intention is personal so take a few minutes to think about it.

Q: What can an intention be?

A: It can be patience. Saying to yourself “I want to nurture my patience” or “I want to nurture my empathy”. It can be an intention to become more social or detoxing your mind from specific thoughts. That’s the real purpose of Ramadan either way. It is to feel empathy and to feel the struggle of others while connecting and nurturing your spirituality and connecting to God.

Q: How to prepare our body for the fast a week before? 

A: Our bodies adapt to new situations fast. So the earlier we start adapting to what will come, the easier Ramadan will be. Some people drink coffee in the morning. When they don’t drink their coffee, they experience withdrawal symptoms, headaches and loss of energy. I recommend that a week before the fast they start to gradually lower their caffeine intake instead of going cold turkey. On the first day of Ramadan, they won’t feel the harsh difference.

I also recommend that you push your meals a little more in time. I’m not saying that you should feel extreme hunger before Ramadan, but you should let your body adapt.

Try to think ahead of the food you’re going to consume during Ramadan. Some people like to buy a recipe book and try all sorts of new foods during the fast. If you check my page, I am giving in a special Ramadan bundle of 45 recipes that are nourishing and delicious. This bundle helps plan the meals throughout the month (main dishes, salads, soups, appetizers, etc.). Meal planning is a great way of preparing yourself to avoid starting the fast with no idea what to eat or cook.

You can check the Blog on Mint Basil Market for easy and healthy recipes for Ramadan.

Go grocery shopping and focus on buying nourishing foods with lots of fibers, proteins and nutrients. In Ramadan, you are consuming 2 meals instead of 5 which is why you have to do your best to make these meals as nourishing as possible for your body.

You can check the Ramadan section below for healthy foods.

Taking Care of Ourselves During Ramadan

Q: During Ramadan, what should the typical meals be?

A: Intuitive Eating has 10 principles, but during Ramadan, there are two that we cannot apply. These 10 principles are like a puzzle, and when one or two are not applied, the rest cannot work out. For example, one of the principles we cannot apply during Ramadan is “honor your hunger”. In Ramadan, we will be hungry during the day, but we can’t act on it. This is something that directly affects the “mindful eating” because sometimes when we’re too hungry we eat quickly without thinking about what we’re consuming. This leads to uncomfortable fullness. You will feel physical discomfort and have no energy while being bloated. This is the reason why I suggest eating soup first because it’s a hot meal that slows you down.

So I suggest breaking your fast with water or yoghurt, then having lentil soup which is extremely nourishing, then a bit of salad and vegetables which are good for your digestive system, then have an appetizer according to what you feel like. The main dish can be anything that is complete in nutrients like Tomato bulgur pilaf (burghul w banadoura) or chicken and potatoes.

During Iftar and Suhur, have a snack. Eat some sweets or a smoothie if you feel like it. 

Q: What tips can you give for us to achieve comfortable fullness?

A: It is extremely important to enjoy food during Ramadan and pick food we like to eat. So here are my guidelines to help you. They are not rules but a way of life that you apply in part or in full according to your personal needs. 

#1- Break your fast with dates and water or yoghurt.

This step is important to level your blood sugar levels. After not eating for a full day, your blood sugar levels are low. When you start with dates, you raise your sugar levels almost immediately because dates are easily digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. Water or yoghurt will help your body hydrate and get nourished.

#2- Start with soup in order to eat slowly.

Soup is hot and forces you to slow down to eat. Soup helps you focus on mindful eating instead of rushed eating and shocking our bodies with big quantities of food.

#3- Take regular breaks during your meals.

I highly recommend taking breaks while eating. Some people break their fast and then go pray. I cannot stress enough how important this is because you are giving your body time to adjust. Also during Iftar, I recommend taking breaks and not shoving one meal after the other. Think about the food you’re eating and if it still tastes good. The closer to fullness you are, the less you enjoy food. So stay mindful and connect to the messages your body is sending you.

#4- Main dish should be nourishing & complete in nutrients.

A meal high in protein, fiber and fats will keep you energized for a longer time so I recommend as much as possible to cook meals that have all three for your own wellbeing.

#5- Avoid fried foods high in salt and sugar.

Foods high in salt and sugar will make you thirsty so it is best to avoid them during Ramadan and focus on more nutritious meals.

Q: What about water?

A: Keep a bottle of water beside you at all times. Every hour, try to drink at least 1 to 2 cups of water to make up for the dehydration experienced throughout the day. This will help you avoid any side effects of dehydration and migraines.

Q: Is it advisable to skip Suhur?

A: No, not at all. Suhur is giving you energy to last you from dawn until dusk. It is really important to consume food that lasts in our stomach for a while like proteins, fibers and fats. For example, eggs with avocados is a great meal. Labneh is good for Suhur also, even oatmeal with peanut butter. Don’t forget to drink water or liquids to prevent dehydration.

The takeaway from this Live session should be for you to listen to your body and stay connected so you can enjoy your food and stay healthy.

That’s all folks! Thank you for joining us for this session and thank you to Rola Ghaddar for this valuable information. Stay tuned for more Wellness Wednesdays to come!

If you have any questions or topic suggestions, feel free to reach out to the Mint Basil Market team.

April 09, 2021 — Mint Basil Team

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