Balancing health with fasting during the holy month

by Elloww Team

Manjula Ramakrishnan

The holy month of Ramadan is a time for introspection, inclusiveness, humaneness, charity and fasting. 

“This month’s food traditions vary in every household and every person’s journey is different. There is no single correct diet or food choice, yet there are some better choices that people can make daily to help prevent chronic diseases and feel energised with a clearer mind to go through their busy days,’’ says Jusine Corrado, founder of Basiligo, a healthy restaurant and meal plan service in the UAE.

Drawing inspiration from culinary memories Jusine shares with her family, fresh ingredients and cooking from scratch are the pillars Basiligo’s food is based on.

“Following some simple guidelines during the holy month can help people who are fasting maintain a balanced meal and achieve a healthy lifestyle. Overindulging during Iftar and Suhoor are best avoided,” she tells Panorama.

Basiligo's recipes promise to boost energy and sharpen focus.

What is Basiligo all about?

Basiligo is an Emirati meal plan service that takes the local health food scene up a notch. Our mission is to help customers turn mindful, delicious eating into a lifestyle instead of a restrictive diet. Our dishes are as indulgent as they are healthy. Founded in 2015, Basiligo is built on the tenets of community, seasonal ingredients and affordable healthy food.  

What are Basiligo’s plans this Ramadan?

Basiligo’s team has created Iftar and Suhoor meal plans that are high in protein, whole-grains, plant-based meals, no added sugars, no artificial additives and clean eating. All our dishes are made from scratch using vibrant ingredients. Our meal plans are a power-packed mix of fresh fruits and veggies, super foods and organic grains and protein. Basiligo isn’t just for customers on a weight loss journey; our meal plans are designed to provide convenience and empower, not just shed extra pounds. Our recipes promise to boost energy, sharpen focus and help you become the best version of yourself. All the dishes come with macros and nutritional information to help customers plan their meals accordingly.

How important is Suhoor and what would be the ideal food groups to take?

The most critical meal is Suhoor where those who are fasting should consider incorporating certain vital foods.

Have meat or vegetarian protein alternatives: consuming lean chicken and meats, tofu, lentils, beans will help build body tissue and strengthen the immune system. Whole-Grains: high fibre carbohydrate foods like brown rice, oatmeal, and bulgur take time to digest, giving longer levels of energy. Fruits and vegetables: fibre is critical during Ramadan when people suffer from constipation due to lack of water and healthy eating. Tonnes of fruits and veggies can help prevent this whilst giving a mineral, vitamin and antioxidants boost. Endless delicious variations to incorporate these three food pillars can be created. 

What are the other vital requisites during Suhoor?

Take your Suhoor meal as late as possible. Avoid drinking coffee or tea at Suhoor as tea increases salt excretion in the urine, which is needed for the body during fasting. From Iftar leading up to Suhoor, it is advisable to drink two to three litres of water to avoid dehydration during fasting hours.

Avoid taking carbs during Suhoor for these increase sugar levels and the stored energy burns faster. Avoid fried chicken and fatty meats to avoid cholesterol levels shooting up. Instead, have oatmeal with a low fat laban smoothie made with fresh fruits. Stay away from eggs and cauliflower as they cause acidity when consumed during Suhoor.

What would be the most prudent way to break the fast during Iftar?

During Iftar, break your fast with dates and fresh laban as they are low in salt and helps prevent overeating. People are usually thirsty during the day; it is always important to drink a little amount of water when you break your fast, for this will allow you to still enjoy your meal and at the same time, not overeat.

What are the foods that are best avoided during Iftar?

Fried foods are the norm during the month of Ramadan; try to reduce the oil intake to ensure there is no spike in cholesterol levels. Avoid eating a lot in one go and instead space out the eating. This helps in easy digestion especially for people with diabetes; it will also ensure blood sugar levels are not raised quickly.

Avoid taking a lot of sugary foods. Choose whole grain meals that provide the body with energy and fibre. Drink smoothies to keep you refreshed and that is a good way to consume essential vitamins.