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Tips For Ramadan

    1. There is no need to alter our food intake during Ramadan. The food that we eat should supply us with adequate energy, vitamins and minerals so as to provide fuel for out daily activities. Healthy eating during fasting month is important to  prevent  health problems encountered during fasting such as constipation, indigestion, flatulence, heartburn and hypoglycaemia.  It also  helps us complete our fast comfortably and earn divine blessings. Hence, the key to remaining healthy during the fasting month is eating in moderation and ensuring a balanced diet.
    2. Despite fasting, it is crucial to ensure that the basic rules of a healthy diet are observed. We should aim to consume a variety of food from each food group within the Malaysian Food Pyramid as no single food can provide us with all the necessary nutrients needed by our body for good health. In summary, our diet should consist of choice from the following food groups :
      • Rice, bread, cereals and cereal-based products.
      • Fruit and vegetables
      • Fish, poultry, meat and legumes
      • Milk and dairy products
      • Oil, fats, sugar and salt in small quantities.
    3. Avoid eating too much while breaking fast, as the production of gastric acids in our stomachs is drastically reduced after a whole day of fasting. Gastric acid secretion will increase  when we break our fast. It is common to overeat at breaking of fast. However, overeating leads to overstimulation of gastric acid secretion. This can bring about digestive problems and affect our health. Therefore, it is ideal to break our fast with light meals that do not overburden the digestive system and we can fast satisfactorily.
    4. It is recommended in the Sunnah that we begin our breaking of fast with 3 pieces of dates. Dates are an excellent choice as they are not only high in energy but are also rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals. After the light starter, a ½ cup of fruit juice, a small bowl of vegetable soup and 1 or 2 slices of bread can be consumed. Eating moderately helps to normalise the low blood sugar levels. However, foods that are excessively high in sugar such as kuih, cakes and sweetened beverages can lead to weight gain and are preferably kept to a limit. Overeating foods high in sugar can lead to weight gain even during the fasting month.
    5. A more substantial dinner is recommended to be taken after Maghrib prayers which may consist of 1 ½ cups of white rice, a piece of fish or chicken, and a cup of mixed vegetables. If possible,  stay away from dishes high in fat and coconut milk. Also consume fruit and more plain water. Supper or moreh may be taken if necessary but try to avoid heavy meals. Instead, light snacks such as nuts, sandwiches, yoghurt, bread, biscuits, 1 or 2 pieces of kuih and a glass of milk may be consumed. Heavy dishes such as noodles or rice can lead to indigestion and interfere with your sleep.
    6. One of the most common problems that people face during the fasting month is constipation. This may be caused by a lack of water intake and low consumption of foods rich in fibre along with excessive intake of processed foods. If you do experience constipation, increase your intake of water, fruits and vegetables. Ensure adequate fluid and fibre intake by drinking 6-8 glasses of water and having more fibre-rich foods such as 3 servings of vegetables, ½ cup of vegetable juice and 2 pieces of fruits a day. Fruit juices or vegetable soups can also help to increase our daily fluid intake. To prevent excessive loss of water from your body, reduce the intake of caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee or carbonated beverages. Avoid frequent intake of instant foods that are high in fat and salt. Engaging in light physical exercises such as stretching or walking may also help in improving digestion.

    Ramadan presents an ideal opportunity for weight loss amongst those who are overweight. The reccommended healthy eating guide for weight loss are :

    • Reduce the intake of foods high in sugar, oil and fats as these foods are generally high in calories. If it is impossible to avoid them completely, try consuming them in smaller portions.
    • Limit the intake of sweetened beverages such as syrup drinks or cordials. Choose to drink plain water, unsweetened fruit juices and low fat milk.
    • Pay attention to serving sizes when you eat. We normally tend to overeat when we are hungry. Therefore, strictly limit yourself to small portions, even if it is a low calorie food.
    • Increase your intake of fruit and vegetables, as they not only fill you up but also contribute to your daily quota of fibre intake.
    • Do not neglect your daily physical exercises. Fasting should not be an excuse to avoid exercising.

    Below are few tips to help you remain fit during the fasting month :

    • Consume nutritious foods that contain carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals and a little fat.
    • Engage in physical activities to boost your body’s metabolism. The best time to exercise would be ½ hour before the breaking your fast or a few hours after your meal has been digested.
    • Drink plenty of plain water, as our bodies need a lot of water to stay hydrated.
    • Avoid caffeinated beverages as they tend to prevent absorption of nutrients in our body.

    Caring for our health during the fasting month enables us to complete our fast  satisfactorily. The following are eating habits that should be avoided during the fasting month.

    • Avoid overeating especially during the breaking of fast. This is to prevent flatulence and indigestion.
    • Cut down your intake of fried and fatty foods.
    • Reduce the intake of foods high in sugar.
    • Keep the intake of caffeinated beverages such as tea, coffee and carbonated drinks to a minimum as these beverages can interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body, besides causing frequent urination.
    • Avoid processed foods, particualrly those that contain artificial colouring and preservatives. Processed foods are usually high in salt even if they do not taste salty.
    • Reduce the intake of pungent and spicy foods.

    The mushrooming of Ramadan bazaars is a usual spectacle during the fasting month. Various types of foodstuff are sold at these bazaars, especially for the breaking of fast.  The sight of these mouthwatering kuih and dishes would certainly entice hungry customers and send them into a buying frenzy. At such moments, healthy eating principles are conveniently forgotten or brushed aside. Preparing a shopping list in advance would be helpful in preventing spontaneous buying. Choose healthy foods such as those prepared without coconut milk or with minimal oil. Try to avoid buying sweet kuih or bubur. Beverages sold at the bazaar are usually loaded with sugar. Therefore, try to prepare your own beverages at home to control the sugar content in your drink.


    To avoid overeating, ensure that only the necessary amount of food is served while breaking your fast. Getting a hold onto our appetites would be more challenging when a variety of appetizing fare is spread out on the table for our picking. Buying food prudently would also help us manage our finances better. Plan your food and beverage budget wisely. If possible, prepare your own natural beverage with pandan leaves, lime and lemongrass. Avoid adding too much sugar, syrup, colouring and artificial flavourings to your beverage. Bearing in mind that the main aim of fasting is for spiritual discipline, we should avoid unnecessary food wastage as such habits would jeopardise the spiritual benefits that we stand to gain through the fasting ritual.


    The azan (call to prayer) that signifies the start of maghrib prayers must be the most anticipated moment for Muslims during the Ramadhan month, as the call also marks the end of fasting for a particular day. Families get busy preparing for the breaking of fast by dishing up a variety of meals. Some of them prefer to prepare homecooked meals while others opt for the convenience of buying ready made meals at the Ramadhan bazaar. Homecooked meals certainly hold a certain appeal to most of us, especially children who may seize the opportunity to pester their mothers for their favourite meals. However, as a mother, preparing meals that are both healthy and appealing for the whole family creates a win-win situation for all. Keep the following tips in mind when planning and preparing meals for the breaking of fast.

    • Plan your menu by including choices from each of the 5 basic food groups namely :
      • cereals, by-products of cereals and tubers
      • fruit and vegetables
      • fish, meat, poultry, legumes, milk and dairy products
      • oils and fats
      • salt and sugar.
    • Use fresh instead of pickled or preserved ingredients when preparing meals.
    • Use a variety of colourful vegetables from various shapes to prepare meals that are both healthy as well as pleasing to the eye.
    • Employ a variety of cooking methods such as roasting, steaming, blanching and frying without oil. Reduce the amount of foods prepared by deep frying, particularly those that are flour-coated.

    Foods that are high in fibre such as fruit, vegetables, bread or wholemeal biscuits and legumes are less frequently consumed during the fasting month as they seem less appealing than those ready-to-eat delicacies sold at the Ramadan bazaar. Nevertheless, it is important to remember the importance of fibre intake in preventing constipation especially during the fasting month. Fruits and vegetables can also produce satiety, thus aiding in weight management. Fruit and vegetables offer a nutritional boost to our daily diet during the fasting month. The following tips can be useful in helping us increase our fibre intake during the fasting month.

    • Break your fast with 3 pieces of dates, ½ cup of unsweetened juice, a bowl of mixed vegetable soup and 1 or 2 slices of high fibre bread.
    • Add mixed vegetables and a piece of fruit to your dinner menu along with other dishes.
    • Consume fruit for supper.
    • Breakfast cereals such as oats, vegetable soup or fruits are ideal choices for sahur.
    • Add legumes such as yellow split peas, chick peas, soya beans or green peas into your cooking.

    Even during the fasting month, we need to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. Water is essential for the our body to function effectively. Sufficient water intake is also necessary for preventing constipation. A decrease in water intake may lead to fatigue. Plain water is the best beverage although fruit juice and low fat milk can be healthy alternatives.. Avoid sweetened beverages that contain artificial flavourings and colourings. If possible, prepare your own beverages at home to ensure hygiene. Besides water, our daily fluid intake can also be supplemented with vegetable soups or fruit juices. Below are some tips to increase our intake of water :

    • Drink 2 glasses of water while breaking your fast. You may also have fruit juices or low fat milk.
    • Have a bowl of soup while breaking your fast.
    • Drink 2-3 glasses of water before bedtime
    • Drink 2 glasses of water at sahur.

    It is common to serve leftovers from the breaking of fast for the sahur meal. This not only saves time but also lessens the burden of the womenfolk who needto arise early at dawn to prepare the meal. Leftovers should only be served if they have been stored properly. However, it is better to serve fresh meals, as leftovers can be contaminated and lead to food poisoning. Foods that are left at room temperature for more than 4 hours are not safe to be eaten. Moreover, refrying leftovers with cooking oil adds unnecessary calories to your diet. Sahur need not be a very elaborate meal. Foods such as sandwiches, rice porridge, oat porridge, breakfast cereals, french toast, fried macaroni, spaghetti, fruits and soups such as vegetable soup or simple fishball soup are some healthy choices for sahur. Ideally, fruits should be served along with the main dish. Drink adequate plain water and reduce your intake of beverages sweetened with sugar or condensed milk. Tea or coffee can dehydrate your body by inducing excessive fluid loss through urination and are best avoided.


    Children should be encouraged to fast from young. Some children are excited at the thought of fasting. However, they are often not too enthusiastic about rising early for the sahur meal. Most children find it difficult to eat during sahur due to a lack of appetite early in the morning. To overcome this problem, here are a few tips that you can follow :

    • Prepare hot meals for sahur. Usually, hot meals can stimulate children’s appetite.
    • Cook your children’s favourite foods. If possible, ask them beforehand what they would like to have during sahur.
    • Ensure that a variety of meals are served, as children get bored easily if the same types of food are served every day.
    • Prepare liquid foods such as soups as they promote satiety and are easy to eat.
    • Avoid serving hot and spicy foods as these can lead to indigestion while fasting during the day.
    • Encourage children to eat fruits and drink plenty ofwater during the sahur meal.

    Bachelors tend to have their sahur meal just before bedtime as many of them tend to stay up late at night. Most of them prefer quick meals such as burgers, fried rice  and instant noodles as these are easily prepared. Bachelors too tend to face a challenge in rising early at dawn for the sahur.
    Nevertheless, food taken the night before cannot sustain the energy needs for the following day. The best time for sahur would be ½ an hour before the start of imsak. Therefore, sahur is ideally taken at dawn. Having a meal at the start of the day also helps reduce tiredness and loss of energy during the fasting hours. Ideal meals for sahur include breads, sandwiches, buns, oats, boiled eggs, breakfast cereals and fruits. For those who desire a quick meal without the need for much cooking, try instant noodles with additional sources of protein such as egg or anchovies and vegetables such as mustard leaves and cabbage. To avoid dehydration, drink plenty of fluids.

Last reviewed : 03 April 2014
Writer : Zalma bt. Abdul Razak
    Surainee bt. Wahab
    Yuhanis Auri bt. Abd. Kasim
Translator : Sri Latha a/p Nottath Bhaskaran