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Keeping the energy going during Ramadan: Nutritional tips for children.

24.04.2021 | 6:42 pm

It’s that time of the year where all the Muslims around the world are excited and busy with the preparation of the most blessed month ‘Ramadan’. Our children are no exception to this excitement. Although, Islam doesn’t make Ramadan fasting compulsory for children before puberty, but many children do like to fast during this month as it is a way to connect to the religion and family.

During Ramadan, fasting Muslims abstain from consuming food and drink throughout the day. They can eat and drink only during specific times of the day. This needs to be followed by fasting adults and children. Ramadan mainly comprises of 2 meals, which need to be consumed during set times of the day. It includes Suhoor, which is the first meal to be consumed before dawn, Iftar, is when fasting Muslims break their fast at sunset.

Of these meals, Suhoor is the most ignored meal by fasting children. As it is hard to convince them to wake up at 3 a.m. and eat something. To make Suhoor time easy for both parents and children I am putting down some Suhoor options which will be filling and also provide energy throughout the day. But before that I have listed some important points which needs to be kept in mind before planning the Suhoor.

Here are some pointers one should keep in mind –

  • Suhoor meals should have all the macronutrients, namely carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
  • Make sure the meals are providing good amount of proteins, as proteins help to control sudden rise in blood sugar, thereby giving a sustainable and slow release of energy during the day and also prevents muscle loss.
  • Suhoor meals should not be extremely high in fat, as this can give heartburn throughout the day, making the fast uncomfortable.
  • On the other hand, it should not be extremely low in fat as well. As 1g of fat provides 9 kcal of energy, which is double the amount of energy carbs and protein provide. Having good fat in the diet will help in keeping up the energy levels during the day.
  • Extremely low carbs are also not advisable, as glucose is the main source of energy for the brain cells. Therefore, good amount of glucose means the children are more alert and attentive while doing their activities.
  • However, high sugar meals should be avoided as it will immediately release energy and will leave the child lethargic and hungry during the day.
  • Meals should be rich in fiber, as it keeps you full, helps in preventing constipation associated with meal time and sleep pattern change. Also fiber makes good gut bacteria which keeps our digestive system in check.
  • Lastly, make sure your child is well hydrated. This is the most important aspect, which does get ignored during Ramadan fasting.

So here are some Suhoor meal options keeping the above points in mind –

  • Overnight oats – oats + milk+ raisins + chopped dates + seed mix (chia, flax, sunflower) + fruit (banana, mango, pomegranate) + almond / peanut butter + honey (optional)
  • Rice pudding/ semolina pudding- Rice /semolina + milk + date puree + chopped nuts. Have the pudding with a boiled egg by the side.
  • Spinach cheese omelet – Egg + spinach (or any other vegetable of your choice) + cheese. Have this with a slice or two of toast.
  • Mango-Avocado smoothie – mango + avocado + yogurt + milk + chia seeds + honey (optional). Combine this smoothie with a bowl of boiled chickpeas or handful of nuts.
  • Chickpea pasta – chickpea pasta + sauce of your choice (I prefer making a sauce of roasted tomato and bell pepper) you can add some cheese as well.
  • Foul Medammes – Fava beans + vegetables+ olive oil, have this with Arabic bread.
  • Hummus sandwich –  whole wheat bread + hummus + cucumber slices or any other salad vegetable of your choice. 
  • Paneer paratha- Paneer/ cottage cheese + wheat flour (or quinoa flour / Finger millet flour) + boiled green peas + ghee, one can relish this with yogurt.
  • Almond/ Peanut butter toast – Whole wheat bread + Almond butter / peanut butter + sliced banana and strawberries + chia seeds. I would also suggest a glass of milk along with this.
  • Smoothie – Greek yogurt + watermelon + apple+ banana + ground seed mix (flaxseed + chia seed) + coconut cream. Well, this can be combined with a handful of nuts or egg whites.

These above food combinations will help your child stay alert, active and energetic for school and other extracurricular activities during a fasting day.

So choose wise and eat healthy to keep it energetic during Ramadan.