Dos and don'ts for teenagers fasting during Ramadan
Dates are nutrient powerhouses and excellent food item to break your fast.
With the holy month of Ramadan is less than a week away, people of all ages are prepping up to make fasting as healthy and as spiritual as possible.
People who observe fast during Ramadan have quite a few doubts about what and how much they should be eating at their age, a scenario which is especially true in the case of teenagers.
This is why we decided to answer some of the questions and clear the air on how the teenagers should be fasting, their nutritional requirement, the food consumption and how it all can be made easy for them.
What is it that teenagers (13-19/20) should eat for Suhoor and why?
Foods to Eat During Suhoor
Protein Rich Food: Eggs are high in proteins and most nutritious. They not only help you to stay fuller, but can be made in several ways to suit your taste buds.
Fibre Rich Food: Oat meal is rich in fibre and a perfect meal your body needs during Suhoor. Soluble fibre turns to gel in the stomach and slows digestion. This helps to keep you feeling full for a long time and is good to keep you energised throughout your fast.
Calcium and Vitamin Rich Food: Dairy products are a great source of nutrition. Opt for a yoghurt smoothie or choose a vanilla and honey milk shake to stay full and hydrated throughout the day.
What should be on the menu for them in Iftar?
Iftar 7 pm
1 cup low fat milk or Laban
1 cup light soup (non-creamy)
Then wait for 10 minutes (can take advantage of this time to go for prayers)
This period will help the brain to develop the feeling of satiety
1 cup of rice or macaroni
90 g grilled fish or grilled chicken
1 cup cooked vegetables or veg salona
(beans, cauliflower, carrot, Broccoli, cabbage, marrow)
1 cup green salad
Snack (after prayer)
1 medium fruit +1 cup low fat yogurt
Medium Fruit (like 1 apple or 2 slices pineapple or 6 pieces strawberry or 1 pear or 1 cup watermelon
2 small pieces of sambosa or qatayef (in oven)
Are there any food items that teenagers should be eating during Suhoor and Iftar and the reason for it?
Foods to Eat During iftar
Potassium Rich Fruits: Dates are nutrient powerhouses and excellent food item to break your fast. It not only helps you hydrate quickly, but also gives you instant energy to make you feel rejuvenated after the long hours of fasting.
Sufficient Fluids: Drink as much plain water, flavoured water, sparkling water, coconut water or vegetable juices as possible between Iftar and bedtime to avoid dehydration.
Hydrating Vegetables: Cucumbers, lettuce, and other vegetables are high in fibre and laden with the goodness of hydrating properties. It not only helps your body feel cool, but is also a great choice to keep you skin healthy and avoid constipation during Ramadan.
Watermelon is also a good source of fluid.
Should they be indulging in sports during Ramadan and what gaming they should avoid playing?
Shun heavy exercise, especially intense cardio sessions, during the fasting period to avoid fatigue, weakness and dehydration. Moderate activity is advisable to keep you feeling energized through the day. A 30-minute walk just before sunset or an hour after iftar is recommended.
How can teenagers save themselves from getting dehydrated during the long fasting hours?
Avoid Salty Food: Imbalance of sodium levels in your body makes you feel very thirsty while fasting, so try to avoid salted nuts, pickles, chips and food that contain soya sauce after you break your fast.
Restrict drinking tea, coffee and caffeinated drinks.
After breaking fast, drink a lot of water and have light soups, coconut water.
You can add slices of lemon or cucumber to cold water and sip it after you break your fast.
Is there anything that they can do in school to make fasting easier for themselves?
Try staying inside the building, avoid the sunlight, stress and any strenuous activity.
Any advice for them regarding sugary drinks and colas?
Sugary drinks and colas should be avoided. They are instant source of weight gain. It is a good chance for them to overcome their habit.
Can they eat junk food in very limited amounts during Ramadan? If yes, how often?
Once a week in restricted quantity.
What should teenagers break their fast with?
1-3 dates with 1 glass of water or 1 glass low fat milk or light lassi.
How is their nutrition requirement different from that of the adults?
The nutritional requirement for teenagers is different from adults. In fact, the requirement for boys is also different from girls. Teenagers who are big and tall or who participate in physical activity more need increased amounts of energy and other nutrients compared to adults.
What should be the preferred beverages other than water?
Vegetable juices, clear soups, coconut water, milk and light lassi.
How much water should be had considering the limited eating/drinking time available?
At least 8 glasses considering the season.
Tips that can save teenagers from exhaustion during the Holy Month
Avoid the sun
Do not skip Suhoor
All information provided by Dr. Anita Das Gupta, Clinical Dietician, Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi.
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