Pregnancy is quite a demanding time for the body in terms of the nutrition. The impact of fasting during pregnancy may depend on the overall health of the mother, the stage of pregnancy and the time of year Ramadan occurs. There could also be other complications like constipation, headaches, indigestion, lethargy etc.
During Ramadan, it is important to take supplements (folic acid and vitamin D) and maintain a balanced healthy diet in order to provide all the nutrients that the baby will require. Focus on quality rather than quantity.
Sehri is one of the most important meals during Ramadan, as it determines the energy we have through the rest of the day. It also decreases hunger pangs, headaches and drowsiness. Sehri should be a wholesome, filling meal with high-fibre foods and complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, pulses, nuts, dried fruits, bananas or dates. Our body takes longer to break down and absorb these types of food, meaning they will provide a consistent source of energy throughout the day.
A variety of healthy food and plenty of drinks are mandatory when a mother breaks her fast at dusk. There is no ideal meal plan that they should strictly follow. However, here are a few recommendations:
Three dates and fruit juice (for bringing sugar levels back to normal) per day.
Milk or yoghurt.
A few slices of fresh fruit and salad made from fresh seasonal vegetables
Chapati/flattened rice (chira)/puffed rice (muri) are a source of carbohydrates. As are complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain, potatoes, and other root vegetables, brown rice, wholemeal pasta and seeds.
High-fibre foods, such as pulses, vegetables and dried fruits. These will also help to prevent constipation.
Protein from well-cooked meat, chicken, fish, or lentils (dal), chickpeas (kabuli chana), beans, well-cooked eggs, soya products, tofu or paneer. Haleem, a thick stew made from pounded wheat and mutton, is also a good way to go, but it should definitely be home-made. Protein will help the baby grow well.
Limit high-sugar, high-fat desserts to no more than once a week. Fresh fruit is a much better alternative. Avoid having lots of sugary food that will raise our blood sugar levels quickly, as it could then drop quickly, making you feel faint and dizzy.
Make sure to include leafy green vegetables at iftar as a good source of folic acid and iron.
It's fine to eat a few dates or dried dates from time to time. They are better than processed sweets. However, overeating dates may lead to excessive weight gain in pregnancy. Mothers diagnosed with gestational diabetes should avoid it.
Also, limit the amount of coffee and tea intake as they are diuretics, meaning they cause the body to lose more water when urinating, which could lead to dehydration. Drinking tea with food can reduce the amount of iron your body is able to absorb. One shouldn't have more than 200mg of caffeine a day when pregnant. Remember that chocolate, fizzy drinks and green tea also contain some caffeine.
If an expectant mother feels dizzy, faint, weak, confused or tired during fasting, even after resting, she should break her fast with a sweet drink to replace lost sugar and fluids, and a salty snack to replace lost salt, or an oral rehydration solution, and contact a doctor immediately. Also avoid consuming salty food, especially at sehri, as it could make her feel even thirstier.
Finally, avoid having any kind of snack or food directly before sleeping. This could cause acidity or heartburn. Lying down for one hour after food intake is ideal at the time of pregnancy.
IT'S TIME TO QUIT TOBACCO
We are all aware of the harmful effects of tobacco, and the month of Ramadan is the perfect time to keep that in mind. The purpose of the fast is to help develop self-restraint, self-purification, compassion, the spirit of caring and sharing and the love of humanity. It will help us to pledge ourselves to quit tobacco in this holy month.
This year, with the fast lasting over 14 hours, people will have to manage without a cigarette or chewing tobacco from dawn to dusk. It's been proven that after 8 hours, the nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in the blood are reduced by more than half, and after 48 hours, the body and the lungs become carbon monoxide free. If we are capable of abstaining from smoking from sunrise to sunset, it means that tobacco is something we can avoid by our own will, and ambition.
Studies showed that a smoker in Bangladesh would have to spend 5.5 percent of the national median income to purchase 10 of the cheapest cigarettes to smoke each day. It would be better to use the money as charity (Sadakah) or for buying gifts for loved ones instead, and act as a motivational factor to quitting tobacco. So this Eid ul-Fitr could be our golden opportunity to quit smoking for good, and live a healthier life.