Starting off your Ramadan with the motivation to eat healthier? Here are some tips to help you out, inshaAllah!

What Our Bodies Need

Before getting started, here’s a quick question – what are the most important parts of a car? Most would say the engine, brakes, steering wheel, and the tires. If we took any of those parts out, would the car still function properly?

I’m sure you answered no, because it most likely will not even move. But why am I talking about cars? Our bodies are like cars when it comes to nutrition. Each macronutrient (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) is needed in our body, because they have different functions in an overall effort to provide our body with the energy it needs to move.  In addition, the more we provide better quality, more nutrient dense foods (or good quality tires, engine, gas, etc.), the healthier you can imagine our bodies will be.

Making Healthier Choices

When deciding what to eat for iftar, select a variety of nutrient dense options that give your body the opportunity to benefit from a multitude of vitamins and minerals (Tweet this).

Examples of healthy carbohydrate choices include foods with fiber, for longer satiety, like: fresh fruits, whole grains (bread, rice, pasta), and beans.

Examples of healthy protein choices include fish, poultry, beans, and lentils.

Examples of healthy fat options include nuts and avocados, and cooking with olive oil or canola oil.

For a more extensive list of these macronutrients and healthier choices, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov. Of course, these are general guidelines but the purpose is to propose diversity in foods so the body can benefit from everything.

It’s understandable that we like foods and drinks that may not necessarily provide nutrient dense options like desserts, sweetened beverage drinks, and fried foods. However, the main reason why we eat is to provide our body with energy to carry out our everyday lives (Tweet this). Everything does come in moderation, so keep in mind these foods are pleasure foods and should be kept at a minimal. For example, eating an appropriate portion of dessert 2-3 times a week versus every day.

Making Sustainable Goals

When it comes to choosing a nutrition goal for Ramadan, it is similar to choosing a spiritual Ramadan goal. In order for the goal to be a sustainable lifestyle change that carries after Ramadan, be realistic with yourself and not overwhelmed with trying to improve every healthy recommendation. Choose 1-2 specific and tangible goals to work on and focus on them throughout the month (Tweet this). You can have an initial goal and transition into an overall habit/goal you’d like to keep after Ramadan.

Some examples can be:

  1. Recommendation: Eating 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day
    1. Current state: only eating ½ cup of veggies per day
    2. Ramadan goal: each week increase by ½ cup of veggies; by the end of Ramadan, eating 2 ½ cups per day
  2. Recommendation: Choosing healthier fats
    1. Current state: eats samosas, fries, hamburger, and/or other fried foods every day
    2. Ramadan goal: only eat fried foods 4/7 days a week for the first 2 weeks then 2/7 for the last two weeks of Ramadan
  3. Recommendation: Choosing water over sweetened beverage drinks
    1. Current state: drinks at least 2 cans of soda per day
    2. Ramadan Goal: drink at least 1 cup of water first, can infuse fruit/herbs for flavor and only 1 can every other day

*Disclaimer: These are general guidelines for healthy individuals aimed to give direction with nutrition goals. If you have a medical condition requiring a restriction of certain nutrients, please consult a registered dietitian for a specialized, more accurate account of diet recommendations.