Fasting has been practiced for centuries across the world and has spiritual, mental and physical benefits. Whether it is the fasting period observed by many over Navratri – the nine days of Goddess Durga Puja, or Ramadan – the Islamic holy month, which both start this week, you will find this advice useful while intermittent fasting for any reason.
Planning ahead is key and that’s what I’m guiding my clients to do so they don’t gain weight and feel good over the fasting period.
The mistake most people make is they think they can eat anything they want to as they are fasting, which leaves them feeling hungry, tired and bloated.
In order to have sustainable energy over the fasting period, you should reflect over your current diet and lifestyle and consider making some minor changes to introduce healthy foods.
Here are some key tips:
Start your day with a balanced meal, which is both filling and provides a gradual release of energy. Avoid simple carbohydrates; think white foods like white bread, white rice or rotis.
Drink lots of water and also include hydrating fruits like oranges, watermelons, coconut water etc.
When breaking the fast enjoy 1 or 2 dates, but not too many as these are high in sugar; one Medjool date has 16 grams of sugar (Source: USDA Food Content).
Instead of fried foods like samosas, pakoras etc have baked pakoras or chickpea bowl (made with tomatoes, chickpeas, coriander leaves, onions, etc)
Instead of sweet foods like barfi, ladoos or other mithai you can make a nut bar, energy balls pieces of fresh fruit or a fruit smoothie.
Have a variety of vegetables and cook these gently or pan fry lightly so you can taste their fresh flavours. Vegetables are the main missing food group for most people, and I cannot emphasise that these should be a significant part of your meal, include them in curries, stir-fried, make salads or soups etc.
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Remember the evening meal should be a meal and is NOT a feast; so avoid piling the plate up too high or going for extra helpings as you will suffer from indigestion later.
You don’t need to give up your favourite unhealthy foods, but have them in small portions and eat them occasionally.
Most importantly leave the feasting for the end of fasting, whether it is Navratri or Ramadan at Eid.
I hope you are inspired to make some changes, whether it is for religious reasons or otherwise.
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Sujata Din is a Certified Health Coach and Certified Professional Cancer Coach. In this regular column for iGlobal, she offers some special insights, from useful wellness tips to recipes for creations that are not only delicious but also healthy.