Healthy Iftar For رمضان كريم - Ramadan Kareem 2022

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Yet another year has passed, and the holy month of Ramadan is almost here again. Ramadan 2022 will begin on April 2nd in the evening and will continue till the sundown of May 1st. The fasting that takes place during Ramadan attracts the most attention from practitioners of Islam as well as people practising other faiths. However, Ramadan fasting is more than just skipping meals during the day and then binge eating midnight snacks. 

This holy festival holds much more value in terms of both physical and spiritual realms. On top of that, when practised properly, one can reap several health benefits from Ramadan 2022 prolonged fasting. This piece is dedicated to helping you pave way for a healthy Ramadan 2022, introduce this splendid festival of self-reflection, and ensure that you get mental and physical health benefits to the greatest extent possible. 

The Holy Month of Ramadan – A Short Note on Significance

The month of Ramadan is a commemoration of the time when Prophet Muhammad received the revelation of the Holy Quran. The revelation lasted for a total of 30 days which explains the 30-day duration of Ramadan. Practitioners of the Islamic faith fast during the month of Ramadan. Besides showing their respect towards this holy event, this fast is also undertaken by Muslims to re-purify and rejuvenate themselves. 

Ramadan fasting is also about reminding yourself of the less fortunate, praying for their well-being, and thanking Allah for providing you everything from food and shelter to peace and solace. Moreover, the month of Ramadan includes introspection, self-reflection, and abstention from all negative actions. The whole experience of fasting during the daytime, abstaining from all that is a sin or evil even in the slightest and exchanging greetings of Ramadan Kareem and Ramadan Mubarak is often described as transcendental. 


Ramadan vs Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is another form of discipline followed by several people for the betterment of their health. Intermittent fasting is seen as a great way to not only boost weight loss, but also as something to improve metabolism, improve blood circulation, and be an immunity booster. 

Ramadan fasting and intermittent fasting are similar in several regards. While intermittent fasting can range anywhere between 10 to 16 hours, Ramadan fast can range between 12 to 20 hours. A key difference lies in the motive. Whereas intermittent fasting is solely about losing body mass and improving the BMI and overall health, Ramadan fasting holds cultural significance. 

Another aspect where these two diverge is the notion of water. Intermittent fasting allows the consumption of water since it doesn’t contain any calories. On the other hand, Ramadan fasting restricts drinking water to remind them of the importance of water and show their gratitude for the availability of such a precious resource. However, the bottom line here is that both Ramadan fasting and intermittent fasting offer the practitioners several health benefits when done correctly. 

Ramadan Fasting and Health – How Can It Benefit You?

While we are on the subject, let’s discuss the speculated link between Ramadan fasting and health benefits. Given below are some of the top ways Ramadan fasting may prove beneficial for you:

  • Restores Immunity: Calorie restriction, in any form, has proven to boost the body’s immune system by activating a cell named autophagy. This cell is responsible for the surveillance of the body’s immune system and keeping it up-to-date to fight any incoming infection. This is why intermittent fasting is practised so widely to boost the body’s immune system. As Ramadan fasting is pretty much like intermittent fasting, it may also help in improving the body’s immune system and even reduce autoimmune diseases. 
  • Controls Blood Pressure: Besides working as an immunity booster, Ramadan fasting can also help bring down blood pressure significantly. Several clinical research works have shown that fasting can reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure in people with hypertension, which, in turn, helps in stabilising heart conditions. 
  • Lowers Sugar Levels: Another benefit of Ramadan fasting can be a reduction in sugar levels. This is due to the fact that fasting helps the body break down stored glycogen, which leads to the lowering of sugar levels. People who follow long fasting routines like Ramadan for a significant duration also see a decrease in their insulin resistance levels. 
  • Might Help in Reducing Weight: Fat and mass burning is a massive benefit of any kind of fasting, especially when it is something like Ramadan fasting. As calorie restriction leads to the burning of stored fat in the body, weight reduction on a significant level is observed. Ultimately, calorie control is the foundation of all weight loss schedules and programs. 

Busting a Few Common Misconceptions About Ramadan Fasting

Ramadan fasting has been associated with several misconceptions for a long time. From myths about the length of the fast to the activities permissible, many doubts surround the holy month of Ramadan. Given below are some of the most common myths related to Ramadan fasting and health concerns:

Ramadan 2022 Prolonged Fasting and Work – Yes You Can Go to the Office

Many are surprised by the fact that people practising Ramadan fasting continue with their daily routines. Working at your job, business, or home is common during Ramadan (and safe too). While fasting does introduce a few changes in the schedule, it doesn’t hamper work in any considerable manner. As long as the fasting person takes good care of their health, continuing work is safe. 

Opting Out of Ramadan 2022 Prolonged Fasting – It is Possible Indeed

While it is rare to see people from the Islamic faith opting out of Ramadan, the scenario is not entirely impossible. People can easily choose not to fast as per their health conditions and need of the hour. Similarly, some people are excused from fasting by default. For instance, children yet to hit puberty, women who are menstruating or pregnant, and others are not required to have fast during Ramadan. Even older people with have frail bodies and ill people are excused. 

It’s Just About Refraining from Food and Water – Certainly Not

The holy month of Ramadan is not just about refraining from a meal or two. It is also about maintaining a distance from all the things classified as evil or sin and cleansing the soul in the process. Ramadan is the month of self-introspection and realisation, and it calls out the believers to thank Allah for every good fortune and support they have had in the past months and to seek forgiveness for all the negativity they have partaken in. 

The month of Ramadan represents both physical and spiritual cleaning of the person. Notably, it makes people realise that many are not as fortunate as them. With such gratitude induced, they are recommended to pray for others’ well-being. 

Ramadan Fasting is for the Whole Day – Not Really

While people do fast every day for one month of Ramadan, the fasts don’t last 24 hours. Ramadan fasting only lasts for a few hours during the daytime, with the duration being anywhere between 12 and 20 hours. One should note that it is rare to have a fasting time as long as 20 hours. Usually, Ramadan 2022 prolonged fasting hours are just about 12.5 hours. And while Ramadan 2021 was between April 13th and May 12th, the average fasting hours were similar, i.e., 13-14 hours.

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Paving Way for Healthy Ramadan 2022

Munching on all your favourite foods throughout the year and suddenly fasting for a month straight may prove challenging for several people. Even when Ramadan 2022 prolonged fasting is not to be held for the whole day, getting through the day while completing all your obligations at home and work could be tiring. 

This is why we have prepared a small list of some effective ways in which you can ensure that your Ramadan 2022 is as healthy as it can be:

  • Say No to Midnight Snacks: Giving up on all your favourite foods and beverages at once can be hard on your taste buds. However, this doesn’t mean that you should let yourself succumb to binge eating midnight snacks. Make sure that you only consume proper meals, which contain the ideal amount of nutrition as per your requirements. Irrespective of how tempted you are, say a strict no to all unhealthy binge eating. 
  • Avoid Overeating: When we say binge eating, it is more than just about a few midnight snacks stocked in your room. It also includes overeating your regular meals after Ramadan Iftartime or before suhoor. Decide the portion of your meals and stick to them, and avoid eating more than your body’s capacity while fasting. Note that your metabolism will undergo several changes while you fast. You can take solace in the fact that these changes will ultimately turn out for the best, as long as you maintain a healthy and proportionate diet during Ramadan.
  • Nutritious Diet: You should remember that a nutritious diet that keeps you going in general days may not suffice here. You will need larger reservoirs of energy to properly complete the fasting and work simultaneously. To start with, a high-protein and high fibre diet in the morning before Suhoor is sufficient to keep you energised, as you will easily digest proteins and feel full due to moving and working during the day. Similarly, include a few fruits and raw vegetables to ensure that hydration is taken care of. Regarding the Ramadan Iftar time, you can go with filling foods, although you should start slow due to your digestive system being on a break for several hours. Take your time with eating so that you can have your fill and don’t end up with any stomach ailments either. 
  • Drink Ample Water: Hydration becomes a major concern with Ramadan 2022 prolonged fasting as you are not allowed to drink water during the fasting period. At the same time, drinking a day’s worth of water in one or two sittings is impractical. Thus, it is recommended that while you increase your water intake in the allowed period, you should also include fruits and raw vegetables with high water content in your diet.  
  • Working Out is Actually Good: If you are regular at the gym or go for a run in the morning, avoid completely abandoning your routine. While you may lower the intensity of your workouts, don’t skip them. This is the opposite for people who do not work out generally, as they are usually recommended to begin a new, moderately intense workout routine. As observed in several clinical trials, fasting routines that resemble intermittent fasting work wonders when combined with proper exercise. 
  • Eating the Right Kind of Foods: Choose foods that agree with your system instead of frantically following others. For instance, just because it is good to eat a high-protein diet doesn’t mean that you substitute everything in your meal with lean meat or vegan proteins. Remember what suits you and try to stick to it. Select your foods wisely and make a combination that is high in fibres, proteins, vitamins and minerals, micronutrients, etc. Also, remember to add a few carbohydrates to your meals. Avoid fried foods, processed sugars, refined flour, and excessive caffeine, as caffeine in extremes can cause dehydration. 
  • Get Enough Sleep: Compromising sleep is one of the worst things you can do when fasting during Ramadan month. Make sure you get a good 8 hours’ worth of sleep every day. Besides making you prone to drowsiness, lack of sleep has also been linked with increased cravings for high-calorie foods during the day. 

Ramadan 2022: Food Options for Iftar and Suhoor 

Leading a healthy Ramadan 2022 revolves around the food you eat after Iftar and before Suhoor. While staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and light exercise is crucial, consuming a healthy diet is equally important to stay in good shape during the month-long fasting period. While there is a whole spectrum of different food options you can experiment with in Ramadan 2022, we have taken the liberty to prepare a small list comprising all the healthy foods you can consider for Suhoor and Iftar.

Suhoor Food Options

Since Suhoor meals mark the beginning of your day, ideal choices would be edibles that keep you energised for the whole day. Morning meals can be a little tricky because eating right at the dawn isn’t something that most people look forward to. Not to mention the woes of cooking elaborate meals immediately after you wake up. Here’s a list of food options to resort to for starting your day:

  • Dried Fruits and Nuts: Fruits and nuts can easily be a part of Suhoor meals. You can have them as is, add yogurt or top them up with berries to get the most out of this highly nutritious, filling and refreshing option for Suhoor meals. 
  • Low-Fat Dairy Products: Low fat dairy products are nutritious, filling and healthy. You can have a bowl of curd, yoghurt, parfait, etc. or blend a smoothie of your liking with dairy and fruits to have in morning.  
  • Fruits and Vegetables: It is important to keep yourself hydrated during the day. This need can be met with raw fruits and vegetables consumed as the first meal. Try to get as much water as you can from the foods you eat. Fruits like watermelon, melon, apples, etc. are not only ideal but tasty too. 
  • Fibre-rich Foods: Whole grain foods like oat pudding, muesli, whole-grain bread, etc. are known to keep you satiated for long due to high-fibre content. 
  • Protein-Rich Foods: Protein must be an essential part of both Iftar and Suhoor meals. Eggs, lentils, legumes and lean meats are good choices to start your day.  

Suhoor tips for People Who Exercise: If you work out in general and plan to keep at it during Ramadan 2022 as well, consider working out before your Suhoor meal. This way, all the protein, vitamins and fibres you have at Suhoor will work to your advantage.  

Iftar Food Options

The purpose of the Iftar meal is to replenish the energy lost during the day, fasting. So, you must aim at consuming a wholesome meal that has items from major food groups – proteins, carbohydrate and fats. This can include raw fruits and vegetables, protein-rich foods and dietary fibres. Given below are some options from each of these food groups to prepare a balanced Iftar meal:

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Drinking water is not the only way to stay hydrated during Ramadan 2022. Eating fruits and vegetables with high water content is also a good way to make sure you are optimally hydrated the whole date. Include at least one serving each of fresh fruits and vegetables in your Iftar meal. You can consider raw vegetables like cucumber, tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce and a few other green leafy vegetables. For fruits, watermelons, apples, grapes, pineapples and oranges are great options. 
  • Protein-Rich Foods: Food items rich in protein must also be included in your Iftar meals. Depending on your preferences, you can choose from options like lentils, lean meats, fish, eggs, legumes, etc. If you like consuming dairy products, consider adding low-fat options. Adding low-fat yoghurts to your Iftar meal can be good for your digestion. 
  • Whole Grains: Carbohydrates and dietary fibres are essential to keep the body felling satiated and energised. Include whole grains like oats, rice, wheat, and barley in your meals. You can prepare multiple dishes using whole grains. Avoid refined flour of any kind though to keep your meals on the healthier side. 
  • Traditional Iftar Food: Date palms are traditional Iftar food. Eating dates in the evening after Iftar signifies the breaking of the fast. These are nutritious and tasty, that is why a must for your Iftar. 

Some people break their Iftar meals into two halves which is pretty smart indeed. Breaking your Iftar into two will ensure that your stomach isn’t suddenly burdened by a lot of food after several hours of fasting; leading to spike in sugar levels. Consider eating a small meal with fruits, dry fruits and date palms when you break your fast. Leave the major food groups like protein-rich foods and grains for the Iftar dinner. 

Foods to Avoid During Iftar and Suhoor for Healthy Ramadan 2022

  • Carbonated drinks
  • Fried foods or foods with saturated fats
  • High amounts of sugar or high-sugar food items
  • Salty foods, as they will leave you feeling thirsty during the day
  • Too much caffeine
  • Refined carbohydrates

Ramadan is More than Just About Physical Well-Being

Whether it is a new lifestyle you are trying to get on, dropping a few pounds, gaining inner peace and command of your thought, or needing help in quitting an addiction, the month of Ramadan is the perfect time for all. We have established that Ramadan health, fasting, and immunity indeed have a strong connection. However, another thing clear from this discussion is that Ramadan is more than just a way to promote physical health. It also includes aspects of growing and evolving into a better person, practising gratitude, demonstrating appreciation for your conditions, etc. The month of Ramadan, as widely described, is an essential cleansing of the soul. 

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