5 EASY TIPS FOR A HEALTHY AND HEARTY IFTAR
Can you believe Ramzan is just a week away? While it happens to be my favorite time of year, it also tears me up inside because iftar is both my high point and weakness. I love, love, love the spread of spicy samosas and crispy jalebis – but post iftar I am usually kicking myself for packing on the calories and not keeping in mind what the intake is doing to my body.
This year, I am going to (or lets say, will try my best to) be smart about the way I go about breaking my fast. Yes, it’s a season of guilty pleasures and understandable indulgences, but I have to keep in mind the mechanics of the human body before stuffing my face. After speaking to a bunch of health conscious friends and using my own spidey senses over the last few years – here are a few tips I have gathered to help make the most of this month ahead!
DO THE DATE
Ok, so this one is fairly basic and for most, it’s already a given! However, I am not a fan of dates – so for me this tip is definitely something I will have to work on. Breaking your roza with 2 dates will help give your body a burst of natural sugars and give you that instant energy without the loaded calories. Dates replenish the body with minerals, natural carbohydrates and vitamins all in one go and are essential to getting your post iftar self into gear.
H2O IS THE WAY TO GO
Again, these tips are seeming more like common sense, but sometimes we need to be reminded to follow the basics. While we all know the importance of keeping hydrated – especially in this sweltering heat – once we finally get to the table, most of us end up sipping only a single glass of water as we take on our iftar. WRONG! Make a conscious effort to try and drink at least 2-3 glasses of water while you’re on the table, and to keep at it even after. I know I sound like your average dadiamma with the most basic of facts, but it’s one we often ignore or forget to follow. Not only will the intake of water keep you from overindulging in your feast, but you have a short period of time to get your hydration back to a normal daily level, so this truly is essential to your health.
Ok, so from what I know, every desi household loves to end their iftar with a mountain of fruits on the table. While many people think hey, it’s a great substitute for having something sweet – in actuality, it may be doing the total opposite for your body. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE fruit, however eating fruits right after a meal is not a great idea as they do not get digested properly. The nutrients do not get fully absorbed either, and you end up storing the natural sugars instead of having them flush through your system. You need to leave a gap of at least 30 minutes between a meal and a fruit snack – so while we all know how tempting fruit chaat can be, the best thing to do is enjoy fruits post iftaar as a snack, instead of making it part of the meal itself.
TO FRY OR NOT TO FRY…
Urghhh… the age old love of fried snacks is annually put to the test during Ramzan, however this year I have decided I WILL not let those little fried bites of heaven win! Over the last few years I have experimented with different substitutes for my favorite iftar goodies and I think I may have found a combo that works. First and foremost let me say – once in a while it is perfectly ok to enjoy whatever the hell you want, as long as you keep things in moderation. However, those “just one bite” moments can add up if they are occurring on a daily basis, so substitutes are your only solution. Air fry your samosas and pakoras, or opt for grill over grease! One trick I came up with? I enjoy a plate of pani puri / dahi puri – but if you Google the calories in a single puri you may just faint from the number you see. So, instead I went out and got baked Tostitos to try. The difference? Well, 8 puris are about 700 (YESSSSSSS, YOU READ THAT RIGHT) calories, while a plateful of Tostitos are about 105 calories. You get the same crunch factor and the potatoes, yogurt and spices all compliment each other the same, and you save yourself a good hour at the gym after. This little trick works for me, as I get the dish I like while putting my own little spin on it. Experiment with some of your favorites and you will be surprised to find that something new may actually work!
DON’T FORGET THE FIBRE FACTS
No one has time to sit at the iftar table and count their fats vs. protein vs. carb intake – and if you do then Hallelujah, good on you! BUT, one thing to keep in the back of your mind is to make sure you get a good dose of fibre. During Ramzan, our daily routine is all out of whack, and with mealtimes askew and without that that morning hit of caffeine, constipation can become a major issue for many! Adding fibre to your diet helps to keep your gut moving. Fresh fruit and veggies are ideal, but you can mix it up in a number of ways – think about adding some chia seeds to your yogurt or eat a couple of dried prunes every night to up your daily fibre intake. Trust me, it will help in regulating your system throughout the month and will make your roza all the more easier!