“Fast [the month of Ramadan] so that to heal your bodies from diseases,” says a Hadith, or saying of the Prophet Mohammad (SAAW).
Weight gain could be seen as one of these diseases. However, to lose weight during Ramadan fasting must be done in a very careful manner. There are many ahadith that give us advice on how to eat healthy while fasting during Ramadan.
However, people often forget these healthy eating habits during Ramadan. Ironically, as well, there are more “eating traps” during Ramadan than any other month.
So, as we struggle to be good Muslims and fast, we may inadvertently be straying from the path of the Prophet by breaking all rules of good health.
The most common “Ramadan pitfalls” are: Eating a large iftar (meal at breaking of fast) right after the Maghrib azhan (sunset call to prayer), eating unusual or new foods, too many salty foods, too many sweet foods, increasing consumption of tea or coffee, not sleeping enough, skipping meals, eating too much bread or other foods, changing lifestyle habits, and reducing exercise.
Eating a large iftar right after the azhan is not recommended in the Hadith. The large influx of food consumed after a day of fasting can cause the digestive system to “clog”.
For this reason, it is recommended that Muslims break their fast on dates and water or a simple soup, perform the Maghrib prayer and then eat a moderate iftar.
Ideally, another small meal should then be eaten after the Taraweeh (evening prayers during Ramadan) prayers.
Eating a large iftar can also be a problem because it can involve “trigger foods”.
Trigger foods are foods that cause people to desire more and more of the same food. Sugar is one popular trigger food.
The opposite of “trigger foods” are “ideal foods”.
You can find out your trigger foods by observation or by visiting a naturopath. Everyone should know what foods they are allergic to, what foods are their “trigger” foods and what foods are their “ideal foods”.
Eating too much is an obvious pitfall to weight loss during Ramadan. The Qur’an says, “Eat of the good things we have provided for your sustenance but commit no excess therein” (Surat Taha 20:81).
Many people do not realize that they are eating more because they try not to. However, keep in mind that the rest of the year people usually eat a small breakfast, rush off to work or school and then eat a small lunch and a larger dinner. Then they sleep.
In some cultures, they eat a larger lunch and then a smaller dinner. In Ramadan, however, iftar tends to be quite large and eating can continue into the night with numerous visits to family and friends.
The morning suhur (pre-fast meal) is often quite large as well. It helps during this time to keep an eating diary for a “reality check”.
I am sorry to say that most people in my practice that say they are not eating too much find out otherwise when they write it down.
Eating new or unusual foods is also a problem for weight loss during Ramadan.
In fact, making any lifestyle changes can be stressful and contribute to weight gain.
Stress can cause weight gain in people that are susceptible to stress.
If you are the type of person who doesn’t like change and prefers that “everything has its place and everything is in its place” or you are happiest at home then you are probably a person who doesn’t deal with the stress of change very well.