Stick to slow digesting foods which last up to eight hours, rather than fast-digesting foods. Image Credit: Getty Images

Dubai: Eating the right kinds of food to end fast is key to maintaining balanced health during Ramadan.

According to Wafa Ayesh, Head of Clinical Nutrition at DHA, a few basic tips go a long way to ensuring a comfortable fasting cycle.

What and how to eat

  • Stick to slow digesting foods which last up to eight hours, rather than fast-digesting foods which last for only three-four hours. Slow digesting foods include grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, whole meal flour, unpolished rice etc.
  • High-fibre foods like bran, whole wheat, grains and seeds, vegetables like green beans, peas, spinach, the leaves of beetroot (iron-rich), fruit with skin, dried fruit, especially dried apricots, and prunes, almonds, etc should also be eaten.
  • Make sure that your meals contain major food groups such as bread, cereals, milk and dairy products, fish, meat, poultry.

Foods to avoid

  • Anything hot, spicy, hot or salty. Too much salty food will make your body retain water and give you a bloated feeling while spicy foods induce thirst.
  • Sweets and sugary foods are fast-burning and will only last for three-four hours. More-over, these will turn into fat, increase cholesterol levels and increase weight.
  • Fried foods are unhealthy and should be limited. They cause indigestion, heartburn and weight problems.

What to drink

  • Sufficient water between Iftar and bedtime to avoid dehydration.
  • Drinks with high caffeine content (coffee, tea, chocolate, sodas and even decaffeinated teas and coffees) should be avoided. Caffeine leaches calcium from your system, which means you feel less full all the time.
  • Avoid drinking tea at suhoor (dawn), as tea increases salt excretion in the urine, which is needed for your body during fasting.

Do not skip suhoor

  • The morning meal is a must to get you through the day. Many people eat a late night meal and sleep until the dawn prayers. This is not advisable.
  • Eat suhoor just prior to dawn. Do not overeat, and concentrate on foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates, protein, fruits or vegetables, and drink plenty of water.

Stay cool and rest

During the hottest part of the day, stay in cool areas (indoors or in shade) and limit your physical activity. Rest if possible.

Follow the sunnah

  • End fast with dates, continue with a light starter such as soup. During the early evening (after maghrib), have a healthy and balanced dinner. Do not overeat, and be sure to drink a few more glasses of fluids.
  • During the evening, resist drinking tea, coffee and soda aiming at reduction, not totally stopping them. Instead, drink more water.

Do some exercise

Engage in some kind of light exercises such as walking for 30 minutes in the evening.

Other tips

  • Continue to brush and floss your teeth several times a day; get enough sleep
  • Guard against headaches by avoiding caffeine.
  • Consume enough liquids, aim for eight glasses of water by bedtime to avoid dehydration.
  • If you have a health problem, consult a doctor.