We’re half way there
Livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand and we’ll make it
I’m not sure quoting Jon Bon Jovi is the most appropriate for Ramadan haha but that shows you where my headspace is. Two weeks down and two weeks to go!
Week 2 has been a lot easier than the first. Coffee cravings have not totally disappeared but they’ve certainly dwindled and I don’t find myself thinking about it as often.
I think for most people, where fasting is not a norm, it comes across as odd…”you can’t even drink water!” The most common question I’m asked. No you can’t. No water. No food. From sunrise until sunset. And believe me it’s not as hard as it sounds.
After years of fasting I really can see that the process is a lot more about mental training than physical. It’s about self-control and training yourself to see the world from a different perspective.
As for food and iftar time, it does take a lot to keep foods you’ve been craving at bay. So what do you do?
Well I’ve ask the expert for you! Here are Hiba Jebeile (Nutrition/Dietetics) top tips to manage your cravings…followed by the Ramadan Meal Plan for WEEK 3.
Let’s talk about staying in control….
As we approach the half way point, this is usually the time when all of your pre-Ramadan good intentions to eat well and not overindulge may start sneaking out the window. A combination of food cravings and increased food seeking behaviour are often to blame. While many believe cravings are your body telling you that you just need the antioxidants in that block of dark chocolate, in fact they are often a result of a lower carbohydrate intake, a bit of weight loss, or your body getting a bit worried that it won’t be getting another meal….. somewhat understandable during Ramadan.
Another contributor is that the average Aussie, as with other western countries, is eating far too much added sugar. Adults eat an average of 14 teaspoons of added sugar per day, and this doesn’t include the natural sugars we eat in foods like fruit and milk. This is even higher in kids with the average teenage boy eating as much as 22 teaspoons per day! This may sound like a lot but when you consider that a can of soft drink has about 9 teaspoons of sugar you can see how quickly it can all add up! These added sugars sneak into our diet through various processed foods such as breakfast cereals, muesli bars, packaged meals but also from obvious forms of added sugar such as cakes, chocolate and confectionary. According to the World Health Organisation, we really should be limiting it to just 6 teaspoons per day so now is a great time to start cutting back.
When we have such a high baseline sugar intake our brain becomes accustomed to this level of sugar, so when this is drastically reduced in the case of the early days of Ramadan, this can trigger some cravings. The good news is that if you can maintain a reduced sugar level, after a few weeks your taste sensation will change helping to lower your overall sugar consumption in the long term.
These are my top tips to manage your cravings:
Water – dehydration is one of the first triggers of a craving because we can actually absorb a decent amount of fluid from our food. So the first step in the evening is to have a few glasses of water or some herbal tea to restore hydration.
Planning – If you know you are going to get the munchies in the evening, plan to have some healthier options on hand and keep the processed foods out of the house. Try…
- Fresh fruit with some yoghurt or custard
- Air-popped popcorn
- Freshly roasted chestnuts – in season now and delicious
- Bliss balls – these are packed with nutrients and a healthy way to satisfy a sweet craving, but be aware that depending on the recipe these can have 70-150 calories per ball so watch your portion. Avoid recipes with added coconut oil to keep the calories down
- Rice Pudding – you can make a lighter version using skim milk and half the usual amount of rice and sugar.
- Blueberry and Coconut Muffins
- Banana Bread with no added sugar
Be realistic – It’s completely normal and ok to include sweet treats or snack foods as part of a healthy diet. Work towards finding the balance between enjoying small portions of these foods without overindulging. If you feel like you lose control around particular foods, now might be a good time to talk to someone about this.
Thanks Hiba for taking time out to share with us all these helpful tips.
A special thank you this week also goes to the lovely Rawan of Brewing Bliss for sharing one of her recipes with us and of course to Amina Elshafei who also so generously contributed a lovely recipe which you can find here. And go check out her cookbook too ‘Amina’s Home Cooking’ !
If you have any questions or comments, you can ask them in the comments below or on my Instagram or Facebook. You can also get in contact with Hiba via her Instagram @shoudieatthis , Twitter or website www.shouldieatthis.com.au/.
You can also download the Ramadan Menu Plan WEEK 3 with clickable links here!
I hope the last couple of weeks in Ramadan bring you and your families peace and happiness.