Iftar – when breaking the fast, go for plenty of fluids, low fat, fluid-rich foods, and foods containing some natural sugars for energy (avoid consuming a lot of foods or drinks with added sugars). Below are some examples:
- Drinks – water, vegetable juice, fruit juice or smoothies – water provides hydration without any extra calories or added sugars. Avoid drinking a lot of drinks with added sugars after breaking the fast as these can provide too many sugars and calories.
- Dates – Dates are a great way to break the fast as they provide natural sugars for energy, provide minerals like potassium, copper, and manganese, and are a source of fiber. You could also try other dried fruits like apricots, figs, raisins or prunes, which also provide fiber and nutrients.
- Fruit – Fruit provides natural sugars for energy, fluid, and some vitamins and minerals. More importantly, fruits provide antioxidants that counter the metabolic stress from fasting.
- Soup –Traditional soups often contain pulses, like lentils and beans.
After breaking the fast – meals vary across different cultures, but try to make sure the foods you eat provide a balance of starchy foods like bread or rice, fruits, beans, pulses and lots of vegetables.
After a long fast it’s natural to want to treat yourself but try to keep the amount of fatty and sugary foods and sugary drinks you have to a small amount. Remember that you only have a relatively short time each day to eat and drink to provide your body with all the essential nutrients and fluids it needs to be healthy, so the quality of your diet is especially important during Ramadan.
If you can, once you have had a chance to digest your food, you could try doing some light exercise such as going for a walk.
Suhoor – drink plenty of fluids, choose fluid-rich foods to make sure you are well hydrated for the day ahead and go for starchy foods for energy, choosing high fiber or wholegrain varieties where possible, as these tend to be digested more slowly. Below are some examples:
- Oats - these are whole grains and you could choose porridge, which will also provide the necessary fluids as it’s made with water, or muesli with soy milk or almond milk (avoid dairy as it disrupts digestion). You could experiment with fresh or dried fruit, nuts, or seeds, as toppings.
- High fiber breakfast cereals – these provide plenty of fiber and are often fortified with vitamins and minerals, providing extra nutrients.
- Starchy foods like rice, or couscous – you could try rice pudding with fruit or experiment with couscous or other grains with fruit. If you go for savory dishes at suhoor then make sure these are not too salty or they may make you very thirsty.
- Bread – go for wholegrain options as these provide more fiber, for example, wholemeal toast or chappatis. Avoid combining bread with salty foods like hard cheese, or preserved meats. You could try nut butter (without added salt), or banana. As bread is fairly dry, make sure you drink plenty of water or other fluids alongside or you could have fluid-rich foods such as lentil soup.
Fasting with diabetes
People with Type 1 diabetes are generally advised not to fast. People who have their diabetes under control, either with diet control or use medication, may be able to fast. However, their GP may require them to change their medication to help them take tablets while not fasting times. Those who need insulin to control their diabetes are generally advised not to fast.