Nutritionists' advice for Ramadan during pandemic

Ramadan tips2
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AMMAN — COVID-19 restrictions during Ramadan might enable a healthier diet as gatherings and Ramadan banquets are decreased to the minimum, according to nutritionists.اضافة اعلان

“According to recent studies, overweight people are more vulnerable to severe symptoms (of COVID-19) than those of healthy weights because of the extra fat that causes immune-compromization,” said, Areej Zahran, a nutritionist. 

During the dusk-dawn period, it is crucial to eat healthy and balanced food to alleviate the viral symptoms through consuming adequate amounts of “vitamin C, as in broccoli, bell papers, and citrus as well as proteins and zinc, as in fish, tuna, and dairy products,” added Zahran.

Having three to four meals is a must in Ramadan, said another nutritionist, Rawan Olayyan. “The two main meals are Iftar (breakfast) and Suhur (pre-dawn meal), and two snacks in between,” Olayyan continued, recommending two hours between each.
A maximum of one cup of caffeine (coffee) is allowed in Ramadan, added Olayyan, emphasizing how caffeine “increases urination and eventually leads to excessive dehydration while fasting.”

The discipline employed on the first four days define the whole thirty days of fasting, said the expert. She added that neglecting Suhor is a common issue among Jordanians. Olayyan said that Suhor should include three main elements, which are “complex carbs, such as oats and brown bread, protein, and the watery element obtained from fruits and veg.”

“Salty and oily foods lead to abdominal distress,” the expert said, explaining that eating and drinking in a gradual manner is the key to benefit and keep the body hydrated and energetic. 

Super sweet beverages are closely associated with the holy month, and they, unfortunately, have negative impacts on people who fast. “Although Tamarind, Liquorice, Qamar Al-Deen or apricot juices include healthy nutrients for fasting, the additive sugar makes it harmful to the body, so I advise people to drink one small cup of either and use natural sugar substitutes,” Zahran said. 

As for diabetes and hypertension patients, they should follow strict guidelines to avoid any complications while fasting, according to Zahran. “Type (1) diabetes patients are advised not to fast, while type (2) diabetes may fast if they could manage insulin levels,” she said. She shed light on the benefits people with high blood pressure would gain in Ramadan “since their diet and lifestyle become more under control.” 

Sondos Jaradat, a masters’ student of nutrition, stressed the importance of exercising an hour before breakfast, which she called “the golden hour.” 

“Although gyms are closed, working out at home as a family promotes positive habits, especially for children,” Jaradat explained.

The pandemic and restrictions imposed, on the other hand, might bring about obesity, according to observations of last Ramadan under lockdown, said nutritionist Farah Khaled. 

Khaled linked last Ramadan’s lockdown with emotional eating.  According to her, “emotional eating is craving food without a real need, just to curb negative emotions, including stress, anxiety, and mostly boredom.”  

Emotional eating differs from normal hunger in the “lack of gradualness leading to sudden demand of food, carving sugary and oily meals, and feeling guilty after eating,” said Khaled.

Khaled’s suggested solutions for emotional eating issue include the water test, which entails “drinking two cups of water when feeling unexpected starving,” the apple test that indicates a real hunger if the individual accepts eating an apple to gratify hunger, and finally, “managing healthy multiple snacks as well as hot herbal beverages.”