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The foremost concern on the minds of most patients and social acquaintances during Ramazan is how to lose weight. Most of them get offended when I ask them why they put on extra pounds and feel sluggish – this is obviously a rhetorical question given the general preoccupation with food during the month.

I have been trying to convince patients, friends and family that Ramazan is the perfect time for an annual detox to remove impurities and toxins from the body and restore internal equilibrium including cholesterol, sugar and blood pressure levels. Alas this is the one month when we most indulge in food of the wrong kind.

Detox is not for weight loss. It is meant to balance the body and Ramazan is an excellent time to incorporate a detox diet so your body and soul are both cleansed. All it takes is some dietary alterations (yes, that means virtually no pakoras or samosas) and the willpower to avoid addictive substances (cigarettes, paan, coffee etc) after iftar.

Following a detox diet plan during Ramazan will make you feel lighter and less sluggish especially during the long, warm fasting days. For those who cannot function without caffeine, replace the coffee and tea at sehri with a cup of green tea; this is high in caffeine and has cleansing antioxidants too. Keep away from the heavy, fried breakfasts and instead, opt for nutritious whole grain cereals, fruit and dates. Have a spoonful of yoghurt at sehri so as to not feel thirsty during the day.

A detox meal plan includes unprocessed foods and fresh veggies, fruit and juices. Processed and fried foods should be avoided, so shelve the carbonated drinks, packaged juices, processed meats and cheeses and white bread; even ketchup can be substituted with fresh tomato salsa.

Most importantly, remember to have plenty of water between iftar and sehri; this hydrates and flushes out toxins.

– Dr Adnan Khan
The writer works at the Health Awareness Society.

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on June 23, 2013.