Dubai: After a month of scaling back on food, sleep and workouts, it is time to gradually get back into the rhythm of daily life. Sleep pattern, hydration, nutrition and exercise are four key elements to slipping back into your routine, dieticians say.
Ruba El Hourani, clnical dietician with RAK Diabetes Centre, said: “The body needs to be slowly eased into the regular routine of life or else it can go into shock. Usually it takes about 10 days to get back into rhythm and it’s important to do it right in order not to negate the benefits of Ramadan.”
Juliot Vinolia, clinical dietician and head of dietary nutrition at Medeor Hospital, recommends some broad guidelines to sustain the benefits of fasting. “A smooth transition to a regular lifestyle starts with getting your sleep routine, hydration and diet on track. Sleep is one of the most sensitive parameters affecting our metabolism and overall health. We have to get back to six-eight hours of quality sleep without disrupting our circadian rhythm. Several studies have shown that circadian rhythms control the activity of many genes associated with disease risk and liver function. A disturbed circadian rhythm over a long time can increase inflammation factors in the body, leading to a risk of heart disease and stroke even among the young people.”
Summer being almost there, hydration plays a very important role in recovering our body’s chemistry. Water is very essential to combat the sudden changes in eating pattern, longer working hours and busy work life. Getting back to the gym or kick starting an active lifestyle can lead to muscle injuries and aches if hydration is not corrected. The right way to hydrate is to space out your water consumption throughout the day aiming towards drinking 2-3 litres per day.
Download apps that track your water and fluid intake with notifications, or mindfully drink 200-250 ml of water every two hours will help us easily stay hydrated throughout the day also meeting the requirements.
Alternatively, drink 300-500 ml of water way on an empty stomach followed by a litre between 8am and noon and another litre between 3pm and 8pm.
During Ramadan, physical trainers always recommend to go in for a gym work out two hours after iftar. However after Ramadan it is recommended one eases back into a morning exercise routine with regular walks and stretching an hour after the three major meals.
How to resume a regular sleep cycle
■ If you were sleeping at 2am during Ramadan, push back by an hour till you reach your normal bed time of 9pm or 10pm.
■ Avoid caffeine 4-6 hours before bed.
■ Have dinner 2-3 hours prior to sleep.
■ Avoid refined sugars and fried foods for dinner.
■ Try a warm shower followed by a cup of herbal tea with a teaspoon of honey before bed.
■ Drink a cup of unsweetened hot chocolate.
■ Eat probiotic rich foods like yoghurt to replenish gut bacteria.
How to handle suhour hunger pangs
Quick bites for the first 3-5 days after Eid:
■ 2-3 tsp oatmeal cooked in 3/4th cup low-fat milk with 2-4 almonds or walnuts soaked overnight.
■ A small banana/pear
■ Half a cup of low-fat yoghurt with 2-3 tsp of muesli or bran flakes and a few berries.
4th to 7th day after Eid:
■ Herbal tea with a date or unsalted whole wheat cracker/toasted wholemeal bread.
■ A cup of almond milk/soya milk.
■ Fresh unsweetened vegetable juice like carrot, kale or spinach or green cocktail.
■ Gradually resume to simple overnight soaked nuts 3-4 nos and get back to sleep.
Intermittent fasting and meal patterns
What you may have picked up easily during Ramadan can be continued in smaller windows of fasting hours as this could be a health panacea. Recent studies have shown that complementing intermittent fasting with adequate sleep increases lifespan, even when there is little or no overall decrease in calorie intake. It also improves gut health, combats stress and directly enhances our immune system.
Meal plan alternatives
■ Opt for whole foods like eggs, avocado, nuts and whole grains help us with sustained energy. Avoid any processed foods or fruit juices. Avoid caffeinated drinks with meal. You can try:
■ Baked beans with wholegrain bread and a whole fruit.
■ Vegetable omelet with one whole fruit.
■ Yoghurt with muesli and berries.
■ Wholegrain toast with avocado spread and fresh unsweetened fruit cocktail.
■ It is recommended to continue intermittent fasting for 3-5 days post Eid. Gradually resume eating three meals by choosing more vegetables for lunch. You can try:
■ A cup of lentil soup with a small plate of high fibre vegetables like broccoli, beans, pumpkin, mushroom, carrots etc.
■ A small plate of tabouleh with half a brown quboos and hummus.
■ A small bowl of vegetable lean meat soup and 80-100gm of roasted/grilled sweet potato.
■ Tofu vegetable saute with half a cup of wholegrain pasta.
■ A cup of quinoa salad with a cup of low-fat yoghurt and a teaspoon of flaxseeds or chia seeds.
■ Have dinner at least two-three hours before bed. You can try:
■ A cup of soup like pumpkin, broccoli, mushroom or chicken or lentils with a cup of vegetables.
■ Lettuce wraps (stuffed with chicken and vegetables) with low-fat yoghurt.
■ Grilled fish fillet with garden salad.
■ Brown rice-based biryani in moderation with cucumber mint yoghurt.
■ Grated tofu / paneer based lasagna home-made with low-fat cheese and sauteed vegetables.