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Ramazan is about fasting – but food is also a big part of the month, especially during sehri and iftar when the table is laden with delicious food and beverages, resulting in many people overeating. Having the right foods at sehri will help sustain you during the long, hot days of Ramazan while a balanced iftar menu will help avoid that ‘over stuffed’ feeling post dinner. And if you keep the fried pakoras to a minimum, you might even end up losing weight!

Here are some healthy menu suggestions for Ramazan:

1. Breads and cereals are rich in carbohydrates; they release sugars slowly into your bloodstream and keep you going for a longer time which is especially beneficial when you are fasting.
Sehri suggestion: Whole wheat cereal or oatmeal with a cup of milk; up to two slices of whole wheat bread.

2. Dairy products are nutritious and a good source of protein and calcium which are essential to maintain body tissue and physiological functions.
Sehri/iftar suggestion: Low-fat milk with red sherbet, lassi without sugar, yoghurt and cottage cheese.

3. Vegetables are a good source of fibre, vitamin A, carotene, lycopene and other phytochemicals; these are antioxidants and are beneficial in preventing cancer, cardiovascular diseases and a host of ailments. They are also very filling.
Iftar suggestion: A mixed vegetable salad with a drizzle of olive oil; spinach, potato, eggplant and tomato pakoras are delicious but should be eaten in moderation as they are deep fried.

4. Fruits provide energy that lasts throughout the day; they are an excellent source of dietary fibre, will help regulate your digestive system and keep away the hunger pangs. A handful of nuts and dried fruit make an excellent midnight snack.
Sehri/iftar suggestion: Apples, bananas, dates, guavas and mangoes.

5. Water is one thing we forget to have enough of during Ramazan. Drink eight to 10 glasses of water between iftar and sehri to avoid dehydration. Avoid excessively salty and deep fried foods as they have the tendency to make one thirsty.

– Dr Samia Babar
The writer is Director, Health Awareness Society.

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on July 8, 2012.