By Thomina Mirza

RAMADAN can be a time to reflect on our health and diet as an act of ibadaah, allowing us to achieve self-discipline and self-control. So how can we reap the rewards of the abstinence of food, spiritually?

As with every act of worship, we must first consciously be aware of the intention (niyah) to fast from dawn to dusk, re-energising ourselves by taking two to three healthy, balanced meals during the night, with plenty of fluids. This Ramadan, the fasts are over 15 hours long in the UK, which makes it vital to consume the right foods during the 5-6 hours of the night to avoid feeling dehydrated and lethargic.

Islam doesn’t require you to harm yourself in fulfilling the fast and fasting is only for the fit and healthy. If you are sick, elderly, not of sound mind, pregnant, breastfeeding, under the age of puberty, or travelling, you are exempt from fasting. During the fast, some people may develop severe dehydration resulting in the production of very little or no urine, a feeling of disorientation and confused, or dizziness. In such cases, the fast can be broken and the person must urgently rehydrate themselves. Such broken fasts can be compensated for by fasting at a later date. 


Around the beginning of mid-May, you can start to think about how it would feel too fast during the long summer days. You can try to fast hypothetically, as in you tell yourself you are fasting (when you’re not) and then try to cut down on the snacks between meals, fizzy drinks, coffee and tea, by replacing them with fruits and water. This way they won’t be missed too much on the first few days, and will help you cope with caffeine withdrawal symptoms such as headaches.



It is important to drink fluids before the fast starts to avoid dehydration.

  • You will lose water in the usual ways including perspiration, so the lost water, must be replaced.
  • Aim for 2-3 glasses of fluids at Suhoor and Iftar; also during the tarawih (late night) prayer). It’s best to drink plain water, but you can have fruit juices, squash, cordials, milk or smoothies too.
  • Try to avoid drinks containing caffeine such as tea, coffee, and cola as they will dehydrated you.


Meals should be simple and contain foods from all the major food groups.

  • Complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain cereals, wholemeal bread, oats, barley, millet, basmati rice, pasta & potatoes should be a quarter of your plate.
  • The next quarter for proteins such as poultry, fish, pulses, beans, soya, eggs, cheese, milk and lean red meats.
  • Leaving half the plate for variety of colourful vegetables.


Base your suhoor around the complex carbohydrates as they release energy slowly during the long hours of fasting.

  • Try to eat high fibre and protein-rich foods such as beans, lentils, pulses, vegetables & eggs as they digested slowly.
  • Add some fruits to your meal to aid digestion and prevent constipation.
  • Drink plenty of water preferably 2-3 glasses during suhoor.


When breaking your fast, go for foods, which not only will quench thirst but are also nutrient dense.

  • Soup, broth or milk-based smoothies are simple to make and can provide you with energy, nutrients & fluids compared to water alone.
  • After the Maghrib salah, take your meal based around carbohydrates, protein and plenty of vegetables.
  • Include 2-3 glasses of water too.


In accordance with the Prophetic traditions, Muslims break their fast with some dates.

  • Dates are a rich source of natural energy, potassium, copper and manganese.
  • Fruits, dates, and other dried fruits such as prunes, figs, and raisins provide a burst of energy, antioxidants & fibre.
  • Try to include nuts in to your diet, as they are a great source of protein, fibre and essential fats.


Initially fasting will prove to be quite difficult with the onset of headaches and dizziness due to dehydration.

  • As the day wears on, glucose from your last meal will be depleted resulting in the breakdown of fats to provide energy.
  • Taking iftar and suhoor will prevent your body from entering into starvation and further dehydration.
  • During the month, your body will adapt & provide you with enhanced energy & clarity of mind.


The understanding and feeling of hunger can be the most intense during Ramadan.

  • So if you know that there will be a lot of food wastage from an iftar gathering then contact your local homeless shelter or refuge, to organise a collection.
  • Try to support your local communities by donating to the local food banks, feeding the homeless and volunteering in soup kitchens.


Avoid deep-fried foods such as somosas, pakoras and fritters.

  • Use less fats and oils in cooking and try to grill, bake, steam, boil more often.
  • Avoid high sugar and high fat sweets and dishes such as baklawa, gulab jaman, rashgulla and cakes.
  • Do NOT pop in to the local takeaways such as chicken & chip shops or cake stalls on way to and from tarawih prayer.


Ramadan is NOT a weight loss programme

  • During Ramadan do NOT do any strenuous exercise or ADD exercise to your daily routine.
  • If you already walk to school or work then continue to do so.
  • Taking a light walk to tarawih prayers, when feeling sluggish after iftar can boost energy levels.


At the end of Ramadan, feasts and celebrations are made with family and friends. Some people may wish to fast a further six days in the month of Shawwal, while others may not. Nevertheless, life slowly reverts back to normal. It is very easy to slip back in to old habits of snacking in between meals, eating out, takeaways and fast foods, but Ramadan has shown that with determination and discipline you CAN break these habits. So why not continue with the same mind-set? Why not implement a Ramadan resolution and change the food and drink you eat?


Thomina Mirza (BSc Hons) RD Registered Dietician, who has been practising dietetics for over 15 years. After working for 12 years in the NHS, Thomina formed her own expert dietetic consultancy service ‘Conscious Eating through Life’ with partner Dr Robiul Hoque. They provide one-to-one dietetic consultancy for adults and children, group workshops, and more: