Bismillah wal hamdulillah...
Healthy diet for healthy body
Having nutritious, well-balanced meals also helps to prevent constipation, indigestion, headaches and heartburn.
“These are common symptoms during this period because our metabolism tends to slow down. Having lots of fruits, vegetables and cereals are important to alleviate the problem.
The important thing is to eat healthy and choose a wide variety of nutritious foods from all of the food groups.
Nurul Aizah recommends children take lots of fluids after breaking fast to prevent dehydration.
“Fruits are also good because they contain a lot of water content. This will also help to prevent constipation and rev up their metabolism,” she says.
Pemakanan yg seimbang, cukup nutrians boleh mengelakkan dari masalah2 kesihatan seperti heartburn, headaches, indigestion dan sebagainya.
Start the day right
A nutritious breakfast is important because it can provide the energy to last for several hours during the day. And, if you think you can have just about anything you want, think again ….
“A doughnut, for example, provides a quick rush of energy but it lasts a short while. It is best to avoid such foods. Refined carbohydrates or fast-digesting foods last for only three to four hours. It is best to have a balanced diet of foods that contain complex carbohydrates, proteins, fats and minerals,” she says.
Consuming complex carbohydrates, or slow digesting foods at Sahur (Ramadan pre-dawn meal) is better as they last longer, resulting in less hunger during the day.
These complex carbohydrates are found in foods that contain grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour and unpolished rice.
Wholemeal bread, high-fibre cereal, milk, yogurt, scrambled eggs, cheese and fruits are good breakfast options because they won't make you lethargic and children perform better in school. In fact, these foods give them more energy to last the day.
Adding chopped nuts, raisins or other fruits to cereals makes it tastier and helps in digestion as well. Dates are one of the best things to have because it is high in fibre, iron and contains lots of minerals.
“For Muslims, it is the 'complete' food, so it should be taken regularly,” she says.
Though fried rice and nasi lemak are favourites for a morning meal, Nurul Aizah recommends taking these in small quantities. She recommends including proteins such as fish, chicken and milk in the diet.
“Nasi lemak and fried rice are allowed if you take them in moderation but most people like to add heaps of oily curry and meat which is really not good when fasting,” she adds.
Children who like noodles can indulge in noodle soups as well, as long as it is home cooked and not the processed ones.
According to Nurul Aizah, children should also try to have on a daily basis:
Fruits and vegetables: Two servings each.
Dairy: Two to three servings.
Bread, cereals and grains: Three to seven servings.
Meat: One to two servings.
Variations in serving sizes reflect children's different body sizes and activity levels.
Foods to avoid
“Try to avoid giving children spicy food, chips and crisps, carbonated drinks, coffee and tea, as well. These will make them more thirsty and irritable,” she adds.
She says it is also good to avoid ice or fizzy drinks because these can inhibit normal digestive function.
“It depends on the individual. Some people do not have any adverse effects after taking icy drinks while others tend to suffer bloating and other digestive problems,” she explains.
“The diet in Ramadan should not differ much from the normal diet that one has every day. However, it should be kept simple,” she says.
Watch out for salty foods as well. Salted fish (ikan masin, ikan bilis) , salty crackers and chips are best avoided as they can make you very thirsty.
Fast foods that are high in fat and salt are not encouraged as well. They should be taken in moderation, perhaps given as treats once a week.
What about fried foods?
“Sure, they are tasty, but they are not good for you. They are high in fat. Try to grill, bake, steam or boil your foods more often,” she advises.
Nurul Aizah says it is important for children to sustain a normal weight, neither losing nor gaining too much during Ramadan.
“If one is overweight, Ramadan is a good time to try to normalise one's weight,” she says, adding that children who are obese should take the advantage to discipline and restructure their diets.
Fried foods, spicy curries, sweets and too much sugar can cause health problems for children and should be limited during Ramadan.
“Spicy curries and sour food can cause indigestion, heartburn and gastric when you break your fast so it’s best to avoid them altogether,” she explains.
Giving children foods rich in fibre such as wholewheat bread, hummus, beans, fruits and healthy juice can alleviate this problem.
Ramadan bazaar food
One of the attractions during Ramadan is the food stalls selling a variety of popular foods and drinks. When the fasting month begins, food stalls and bazaars are seen mushrooming around different parts of the city displaying a variety of delicious local food for Muslims to break their fast.
Nurul Aizah warns parents against succumbing to the temptation to buy all these foods.
“Be careful when buying food at the stalls because they may not be hygienic. Children may succumb to infection, leading to other health problems,” she says. Try to eat home-cooked meals because food displayed at the roadside are not very healthy for children. Watch out for the stalls that sell drinks as well, as water used to make the drinks may not be boiled or clean.
Nurul Aizah emphasises that children do not become malnourished during Ramadan and parents need not worry about it.
“Children should learn to fast because it is good training and it actually inculcates good eating habits,” Nurul Aizah concludes