Fasting the Healthy Way -- Dhrishti Bijlani

Fasting the Healthy Way -- Dhrishti Bijlani
Fasting, in some or the other form, is prescribed in almost all religions. Ramadan has acquired special significance as it is a full month during which believers, all over the world, abstain from eating and drinking  from sunrise to sunset. Various studies have highlighted the health benefits of fasting, apart from whatever may be the spiritual gains of the exercise. Since the fast lasts for almost 14 -15 hours,  maintaining healthy and nutritious habits, while fasting during Ramadan is important.

The body’s energy can be optimised with pre-dawn and dusk meals. This provides a gentle transition from using glucose as the main source of energy to using fat, and prevents the breakdown of muscle for protein. Keeping a proper balance of both food and fluid intake is important.
A few healthy steps to keep you going this month: 
1.      Breakfast is important : ‘Suhoor'(also called 'sehree') is the pre-dawn meal that helps your body stay hydrated and fuelled up on energy and nutrients until your next meal at iftaar (the breaking of the fast). Make sure you include complex carbohydrates (oats, brown rice, broken wheat, cereals) , protein foods (eggs, cottage cheese or paneer, poultry) and also good quality fats like nuts and seeds.
2.      Load up on anti-oxidants: Fruits and vegetables are a healthy alternative to pastries and sweets consumed at  this time. To prevent dehydration, cucumbers, melons, squash and pumpkins would be the best to consume. 

3.      Enjoy the goodness of soups at iftaar:  Soups provide the body with fluids, vitamins and minerals needed at the end of the fast. Try using vegetables  such as carrots, tomatoes, pumpkins, bell peppers, spinach, zucchini and eggplants. Limit the amount of oil and use more herbs as flavorings.  The soup can be followed by a light dinner. 

4.      Do not over-indulge: While it is tempting to overindulge at iftaar , remember that you should slow down. Keep it light, avoiding sugary and heavily processed foods.
5.      Hydration: Drink plenty of fluids for hydration from iftaar to suhoor. It is best to avoid caffeinated drinks such as strong tea, coffee and colas as they lead to dehydration and faster water loss.

Making a few changes in moderation would surely help you have a healthy Ramadan.

OATS PORRIDGE – Enjoy a bowl of this at suhoor


 Oats -   2 tbsp [20 gms]
 Apple – 20 gms
 Milk – 1 cup
 Black Raisins – 5 to 6 in number
Method of Preparation:
Dry roast oats in a pan. Grate the apple into the pan and sauté for two to three minutes. If you want you can peel the apple and grate. Add oats and sauté for about two minutes. Add a quarter cup of water and cook till the oats are fully cooked. Add a cup of milk and let it boil. Garnish with raisins and enjoy hot or cold.

My observations:

Oats are very high in soluble fibre and b-glucan which is a protective factor against diabetes, high cholesterol levels, poor heart health and obesity. When used in combination with milk, it is a very good cereal and  protein combination which provides calcium, proteins and  potassium, which help maintain healthy blood pressure.

CHICKEN BROWN RICE SOUP – Enjoy a bowl of this at iftaar, followed by a light dinner 


Boneless chicken -50grams
Brown rice, soaked  - 25g
Salt- to taste
Oil  - 2tsps
Celery, chopped- 5g
Onion ,chopped- 15g
Mushrooms, sliced thinly - 8g
White pepper powder-1/4tsp.

Method of Preparation:

Cook brown rice with salt and one cup of water till three-fourths done. Drain and keep aside. In a pot, combine the chicken with two cups of water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to 'low'. Simmer for ten to fifteen minutes, or until chicken is cooked and tender. Remove chicken from the pot, and allow it to cool. Strain the broth from the pot, and reserve. When chicken is cool, shred and keep aside. Heat oil in the same stockpot over medium heat and sauté celery and onion for five minutes. Add the mushrooms and cover. Cook for five minutes, while stirring occasionally, until everything is tender. Add the reserved broth and the partially cooked brown rice to the stockpot. Add white pepper powder, salt and simmer, uncovered, for fifteen minutes and serve hot.
My observations:

Brown rice being low on the glycemic index, releases glucose into the blood stream slowly, thus maintaining the blood glucose levels, and is also rich in fibre, giving the feeling of fullness, and hence promotes  weight loss. Chicken, being rich in proteins helps muscle growth and development, helps support a healthy body-weight and aids weight loss. Overall, a very good dish to replenish body fluids.

Dhrishti Bijlani is a weight-loss expert, Consulting Nutritionist, Clinical Dietitian and a certified diabetes educator. Brand Name – Flab-you-Less, Be the Fab You.







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