Now that the organic foods movement has been around for a while, a lot of us are familiar with the benefits of choosing these foods over regular everyday grocery store alternatives.
However, the biggest challenges with buying organic produce have and (while this has improved a bit over the past few years) still are how much it costs and how much effort it takes to find it.
The question is, is it really worth it? Honestly speaking, the jury is divided even though there are a whole array of opinions ranging from those who feel its a waste of money to those who won’t put anything in their mouths unless it’s certified organic and everything in between.
While scientifically speaking there is still little evidence to suggest that organic foods are necessarily more nourishing than their non-organic counterparts, in my opinion if you can afford it, I would say for the most part yes it absolutely is. Truth be told, I’m not a gung-ho organic advocate. In fact there are times when I feel local is a more sensible choice than organic, but if it’s available and the price isn’t significantly restrictive I do opt for organic produce whenever I can.
That’s because even though both conventionally grown and organically grown produce may have the same amount of nutrients based on lab results, I’d venture to say that the quality of these nutrients is more than likely different. Furthermore not having the added cancer-causing chemicals, and the use of more humane and sustainable farming practices all add up to something much better for us and Mother Earth in my opinion. And my hope is that if enough of us use our consumer buying power to support the production of organic foods, then soon all food will be organic by default.
But this post isn’t about convincing you to spend an arm and a leg on expensive organic produce that’s hard to find (there are many discussions across the web that weigh out the pros and cons of these for those who are interested)…
Its about buying organic produce that is in fact affordable and super-convenient too. The amazing thing is that in the last few years Dubians, like their North American counterparts, have been blessed with a number of local farms who deliver organic produce straight to the doorstep. And the cost – a mixed vegetable box that weighs about 5kg – costs only between AED100 -175. I’d say that’s pretty comparable to the average amount one might spend at the grocery store on a week’s worth of produce, wouldn’t you agree?
Comparing the Organic Produce Options in Dubai
|Now, from my own research I found three companies here in Dubai that offer organic produce home delivery and wanted to give you guys feedback after trying all of them in case you are thinking of doing the same. I tried ordering the:
And while I plan to do a more thorough post on each of the three in the upcoming weeks, here’s a summary of what I found:
- On that note, all three seem to have pretty good customer service too – in fact Greenheart gave me a free box (100 AED value) for missing my substitutions – how often will a company do that?!
- You do pay a deposit (5 AED) for the box with Greenheart unlike Ripe and Go Organic, but all companies will collect their boxes for reuse.
So what’s the verdict?
Overall, I would definitely recommend getting an organic produce box delivered to your doorstep. I ended up going with Greenheart because as a small family of 3 adults their box lasts us about 2 weeks, which is perfect for us.
On a side note, while I considered getting organic fruits delivered as well, the fact is most of it comes from Europe and North America. When I think about the environmental impact of shipping fruit all the way to us here in Dubai I felt that buying local produce makes more sense, especially considering a lot of farms around the region may in fact still use older farming practices.
Oh yeah, if you’re looking for organic produce delivery in America – check out www.localharvest.org.
It’s that time of year – the weather’s changing, school’s back in session and people are coming down with runny noses, coughs and sneezes.
While we all know that there is no real cure for the common cold or the flu mainly because there are so many unique viruses that hijack our own cells to spread and reproduce that it’s impossible to keep track of them, boosting our immune system can really help stave off these pesky invaders.
On that note, here are 5 immune boosting foods that have been proven to do just that:
|1) Culinary Mushrooms - They may look humble, but mushrooms are ninjas when it comes to boosting your immune system. In fact, like garlic and onions, they have been shown to increase your white blood cell count, due in part to the selenium and glucans they contain. But that’s not all, they have also been shown to have antiviral and antibacterial properties.|
|2) Garlic - While it’s most notoriously known to keep vampires away, garlic also keeps your immune system
running at it’s optimum. It’s the sulfuric compounds like allicin, also found in onions (cabbage, brussel sprouts
and kale), that give garlic it’s pungent odour and are responsible for wiping out bacteria, viruses and fungi. While the most effective way to get garlic’s benefits is to have it raw (2 raw cloves a day can give your immune system the boost it needs), this is not always very practical! The good news – incorporating garlic into your meals several times a week is also helpful.
Need some inspiration on how to add mushrooms and garlic to your diet? Try out this Garlic Roasted Mushroom Salad.
|3) Onions - Loaded with nutrients like quercetin, selenium and allicin, onions don’t just add great flavour to everyday cooking, they also work hard to ward off invaders like viruses. While there’s no real recommendation on how much you need to eat to boost your immune system, including them in the diet on a daily basis isn’t difficult.|
Now, while we all use onions in our cooking, you may also enjoy Pickled Onions.
|4) Ginger - is especially good to fight off upper respiratory viruses, which is exactly what you need at this time of year. This is partly due to it’s high manganese content, but it also contains shagaols and gingerols that help open up the sinuses. Because it can cause mild irritation if eaten in excess, you shouldn’t have more than 4g (about a tsp.) of fresh raw ginger a day.|
|5) Turmeric - this yellow spice that gives curry powder its distinctive color is
loaded with curcumin. Among many other properties like preventing inflammation and oxidative damage, curcumin has immune boosting properties as well. If you’re not an Indian Food fanatic don’t worry, this mild (almost tasteless) spice can be added to pretty much anything you’re making.
Need some inspiration on how to add turmeric and ginger to your diet? Try out this Glowing Sesame Ginger Turmeric Dressing/Dip.
I’d also venture to say all of these foods together would make the basis for a delicious stir-fry.
Who knew boosting your immune system could be so simple and delicious?
There’s only one thing I love more than sweet summer fruit:
FROZEN sweet summer fruit
Depending on whether you prefer sweet or tart – fruits like oranges, mandarins, tangerines, cherries, grapes, I’d say any fruit really – can be magically transformed into fresh fruit popsicles without all the additives or the work. All you really need is some space in your freezer. Simply let them thaw on the counter for a few minutes and they are ready to eat.
And this time of year, they serve as a perfectly refreshing after school snack or after dinner dessert.
As for how to pick what fruits to freeze, remember to choose ones that have thin skins and tend to be juicier. For example juicing oranges are a better choice than oranges meant for eating. Similarly large berries like strawberries are a better choice than smaller ones like blueberries.
BTW ready to serve frozen fruit (like pitted sweet cherries, pineapple, mango, etc.) can be an even easier (and sometimes more nourishing) short cut too.
P.S. For those of you who like tart/sour stuff, frozen jamun (aka syzygium cumini or jambul) thawed overnight in the fridge will tickle your tastebuds.
I enjoy 7 Days, and if you read it, you know that they often write interesting articles about nutrition – some of them very good and others not so much…
So last Monday’s (Sept 1st) had this on the front page:
Which made me go “Oh no… this does not sound good… “ And sure enough I had a “HMMMMM” moment:
You guys know that I am anti-crash diets like most people in my field, but what my clients also know about me is I am seriously anti-calorie counting too. And I think this article, especially points 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 and 9 (i.e. pretty much all of them), do a great job of illustrating exactly why.
While I’m happy to report that one savvy reader made the comment that partly covered what was on my mind the following day:
I think there are many more reasons why counting calories is a bad idea, 3 of the most important ones being:
1) At its core eating is about nourishing your body – and while I appreciate that when your trying to lose weight, sometimes it becomes a numbers game, the simple fact is you CANNOT categorize foods based simply on how much energy they provide you with. If you did, a slice of white bread (75 calories/ 30g (1oz) slice) could be considered a better choice than it’s whole grain counterpart (81 calories/ 30g (1 oz) slice) and we all know this is far from the case. The fact is there’s much more to food than simple mathematics, which brings me to my second point…
2) Keeping your focus on counting calories alone can lead you to nutritional imbalance – what I mean is yes you can have a cookie or a piece of fruit for the same number of calories but these choices are hardly similar from a nutrition point of view. If you’re thinking “what’s wrong with a cookie once in a while?,” your absolutely right there’s NOTHING wrong with it at all. What is problematic though is when you substitute your fruit for dessert. In actuality it’s much better for you to eat a few more calories one day and have your cookie and your fruit instead of saving a few calories and missing out on good nutrition.
3) And finally, counting calories plain and simply takes the fun out of eating, especially when it becomes an obsession – which it easily can!
When you keep these points in mind, then you understand why I have an issue with the 7 Days article:
1) Yes lattes have more milk in them but milk is part of a wholesome diet.
2 &7) Bananas, apples, peas and broccoli are fruits and vegetables that are each loaded with their own unique blend of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre and other nutrients that are essential to good health. And in this case, variety is much more important than how many calories these foods contain.
4, 6 & 9) As for sandwiches, salads, pasta, rice, soup rolls and oat cakes, all of these foods are fundamentally wholesome albeit how they are prepared is an important factor to consider, even when it comes to comparing them to each other. What I mean by that is a sandwich could in fact be less or MORE nutritious than a salad depending on what’s in either of them. And the same goes for rice, pasta, oatcakes and soup rolls.
The bottom line is your focus should be on eating healthy rather than worrying about the numbers – if you do this, the numbers will automatically go where you need them to.
Ramadan Mubarak everyone!
Considering this Ramadan has hit us in the middle of summer, and it also happens to be one that I will be enjoying in North America after a few years away from home – which means longer summer days than I’ve become used to – I thought it important to remind everyone to drink up! BTW this is good advice for everyone, not just those of us who are fasting at this time.
I think a lot of us focus on food when it comes to fasting, but we often forget to make sure we are hydrating well too. In fact I bet you didn’t know that dehydration is a common reason for headaches and feeling more hungry – symptoms we’d all like to avoid.
So how much do you need to drink and how can you get it all in when you’re fasting 18 (give or take a few) hours a day? First and foremost, stick to the standard advice of 8 cups or about 2L a day. While there are varying opinions on the exact amount of water we all need, this general rule of thumb is quite good and also simple to remember.
Now that we have a goal in mind, the next step is to make sure we achieve it. In order to do this, I highly recommend measuring how much you drink, whether that’s by using one large 2L jug or drinking 4-500ml bottles, keeping track of the amount you consume is important.
While drinking more than 2 glasses of water at suhoor is not necessary and will only make you pee more as your system flushes excess water out, it is important to pace yourself to drink most of your fluids throughout the night.
As for those of you who are hydration-challenged, think outside the box when it comes to getting your fluids in. While I am a firm believer that water is the greatest quench aid, enjoying 100% fruit and/or veggie juices, cold or hot herbal teas (watch the sugar content) and even the occasional sports drink is not a bad idea. By also including juicy fruits/veggies like melons and lettuce, 100% juice Popsicles and/or broth-based soups you can take your creative fluid intake up a notch too. And for those of you who don’t enjoy the taste of plain H2O, think about making your own flavoured waters by adding fresh fruit (sliced oranges, lemon slices, and/or berries) or tea bags (there all sorts of great fruit flavours out there) to your jug and refrigerating it overnight.
A couple more things to consider when it comes to hydration:
1) electrolytes are important if you sweat a decent amount through the day – and a great natural way to get these back is by drinking coconut water
2) to prevent having to pee through the night, rather than catch your much needed zzz’s think about stopping to drink a couple of hours before bedtime
I hope everyone has a well-hydrated, peaceful and blessed month!
So I know I made a New Year’s resolution to post more often regardless of how busy I am – and I know I had the best intention to follow through with this come hell or high water… but not even a few months later and here we are again, life has gotten in my way of keeping in touch on my blog!
The fact is, all of us have the same problem! What I mean to say is whether you are a dietitian or the Prime Minister of Canada, we all struggle with sticking with our goals… you see at the end of the day each one of us are part of what makes up statistics, and the statistics tell us that less than 50% of us stick to our New Year’s resolution past the 6 month mark and only about 8% of us actually succeed in meeting our resolutions.
While this is kind of disheartening to know… I mean I definitely want to be part of the 8% who keeps their resolution, the fact that it is a VERY small determined group of individuals who make up a minority somehow makes me feel better as well. I mean of the 40% of people who actually make resolutions, 92% of us don’t follow through.
You might be wondering how this has anything to do with achieving permanent weight loss. Other than the fact that weight loss happened to be the number 1 resolution made by people at the beginning of 2014, it tells me that even having the best of intentions doesn’t guarantee success.
And if you are anything like a lot of my clients/friends/family who are looking to lose weight, than while resolving to change is important, unfortunately it isn’t the solution. This is because as much as we want to lose all that weight as of yesterday, the fact is weight loss is a goal that requires longterm commitment… Hardly simple if you ask me!
So how do you make it simple to lose weight – and more importantly guarantee that it stays off for good? It actually does have to do a lot with your head…
The simple change you can make TODAY that WILL help you LOSE WEIGHT PERMANENTLY is to recognize that weight loss takes time! I know it sounds silly, and in fact coming to this realization can be quite challenging, but when you embrace the idea that it will take you a few months or even a few years to reach your weight loss goal, you will get the focus you need to achieve it.
While a lot of us think that our weight gain happened overnight, the fact is that it took many months or even years of committed habits to gain that unwanted weight – so it is only logical that it will take the same (if not a bit longer) time to develop the habits needed to lose it too.
Remember – slow and steady truly does win the race. In my career of 10+ years this is one thing I have seen with my own eyes time and time again.
The amazing thing is no matter how many months or years it takes, when you look back at your weight loss journey you WILL think it hardly took long at all to drop that weight once and for all.
* Statistics for this post: http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/
March is nutrition month and this year the theme is Simply Cook and Enjoy! which is something a lot of us struggle to do… I mean the cook part. In fact this is probably the number one reason my clients give me for not being able to stick to eating healthy – “I just don’t have time!”
The truth is cooking doesn’t have to mean that your making a 5 course meal every night. It can be quite simple but super delicious, even when you’re on the go.
So since breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and one that is often substituted with a morning Joe, I thought I’d share 5 of my favorite breakfast recipes that will take you less time to make than standing in line at Starbucks:
Labna & Rocket Pita
1 tbsp. labna (I use Pinar Turkish Labna because it isn’t as tart)
Bunch of rocket leaves, washed and patted dry
1 whole grain pita (I use Modern Bakery’s Protein Flat Bread)
Warm pita on stove top or in toaster oven for 30 sec. Spread labna on pita, add rocket and fold into a roll.
Note: labna is a spreadable cheese made from yogurt popular in the Middle East so if you can’t find it in your grocery store, look for it at an Middle Eastern Grocer or you can simply substitute it with a nice cream cheese
Maple Banana Oatmeal
1/2 cup rolled oats (I use Jordan’s Organic Porridge ‘coz I love the texture of their chunky flakes)
1 cup milk
1 tbsp. ground flax
1 tbsp. real maple syrup (can’t be Canadian without this)
1 banana, sliced
Mix oats and milk in a bowl (or glass Tupperware if you’re taking it to go) and microwave for 4 min (stirring after 2 min). Add flax, maple syrup and banana. Stir and enjoy!
Spinach & Feta Omelet in a Chapatti
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil (first cold pressed)
1/4 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed (microwaving it for about 30 sec does the trick)
1 oz. feta cheese
1 large egg, beaten
1 whole wheat chapatti (I use SK’s Original Frozen Chapattis)
Prepare chapatti as per package instructions. In a small pan heat oil and sauté spinach until water evaporates (about a min). Crumble feta around the pan and then add the egg, spreading so it makes an omelet. Cook until omelet is set, about 2 min. Serve in chapatti.
Note: chapatti is an Indian flatbread widely eaten in South Asia
Granola & Berry Yogurt Parfait
1/2 cup berries of your choice (blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are quicker options since you don’t have to chop them – I used frozen today)
1 tbsp. ground flax
1 cup yogurt
1/4 cup granola (I like Familia Fruit’X with strawberries)
1 tbsp. honey
In a bowl, layer yogurt, honey, flax, granola and berries. Stir and enjoy!
Peanut Butter & Banana Toast
1 tbsp. peanut butter (I use Organic peanut butter because it doesn’t have all the additives in it)
1 banana, sliced
2 slices whole grain bread (I like Swiss Cottage’s Multigrain Bread)
Toast bread, spread peanut butter on both slices and then top with bananas.
Do you have a quick breakfast you enjoy?
One of the things that we all do in Dubai is drink BOTTLED water. And even though we have been reassured by the municipality time and again that our tap water is in fact “safe to drink” – there isn’t a lot of buy in from the public (but more on this later). So for most of us bottled water is really the only available source of drinking water in Dubai.
Now coming from Canada, where tap water is safe to drink and where drinking bottled water is considered an extravagance, having to switch to the bottle was concerning to me on a number of levels. For one thing, not a lot of companies specify that their bottles are BPA Free here. Add to that the fact that when heated, or left in the car in hot weather which is pretty much every single day in Dubai, plastic made from BPA tends to release harmful chemicals into any substance it contains. Now as careful/vigilant as one might be about leaving a bottle in the sun, the fact is all that water, whether it be from the big gallon jugs we have delivered to our homes and offices or from the smaller bottles that we get from our grocery stores or find at our restaurants, has been transported on trucks and exposed to sun and heat for an unknown number of hours – possibly even days. And then there’s the environmental impact that thousands, I’d say even MILLIONS, of these plastic bottles have on our planet, especially when you consider that we live in a country where you have to really work hard to recycle.
That being said, after doing a bunch of research on it (which involved me looking at different bottled water companies, reading up on home filtration systems – that practically don’t exist – and even seriously considering drinking straight from the tap), I figured there wasn’t much that could really be done in this situation and so I embraced chugging water from bottles like a true Dubia’n. Of course I did convince the family to pay more (and get less) for Masafi @ home – mainly because their water comes from a local spring, at least their gallon jugs are BPA Free and they do not reuse their bottles (YIKES for the environment – but luckily they do recycle the plastic, phew)
But then that was almost 5 years ago – so let’s fast forward to today…
So from time to time we’ve gotten a flyer stuck to the apartment door about having a home water purification system installed. Something I’ve been interested in looking into (particularly a carbon block one) for a while but for some reason or other couldn’t seem to coordinate a time for someone to come in and give us a demo. Well that was until last weekend anyways.
Now I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a demo for one of these units before, but Saturday was the first time I ever have so when the sales guy for Pure Tech showed up dressed in a suit and carted in a laptop case with him I really didn’t know what to expect. It turns out it’s pretty much like any sales pitch with the exception of a simple water quality test where you provide 2 (and in my case 3) samples of water and he places 2 electrodes into each glass to allow any particles to settle out of them. He also does the test using his filtered tap water and I think the results are quite awe inspiring, they kind of speak for themselves don’t they:
So let me give you the low down of his explanation:
- Yellow – is simply the minerals in the water that have reacted with the charged ions
- Orange scum – i.e. what you see on top of the bottled water is apparently due to chemicals that are almost always (with the exceptions being more expensive brands like Evian plus a few more which I can’t remember, sorry) added to prevent any harmful bacteria from growing in it over time
- Blackish green – is rust, dust and other particles that get into the water from the storage tanks and the pipes.
Now I rarely take anything anyone, especially a sales rep, says at face value…and it’s a good thing too since it turns out that this “electrolysis test” is actually bogus, in fact some people are even calling it an outright scam:
As it turns out that orange scum on top of the bottled water is really the minerals it contains, which act as the electrolyte in this “experiment”. And based on the video, I’d venture to say that the tap water turns a murky greenish black probably because it’s desalinized sea water and probably still contains a bit of salt in it. As for the yellowish tint in the filtered water, from what I can gather from the Pure Tech pamphlet, unlike the systems mentioned in the video, their reverse osmosis (RO) filtration system adds a select number of minerals – but from the look of it not very many – back into the water after filtration.
You know I’m quite disappointed that this was a fake test because it made me not want to consider the Pure Tech filter at all – I mean who wants to buy something from someone who’s trying to pull the wool over your eyes, right?
But to be fair to myself, my family and all of our health in the long run, I do think that while RO filters aren’t 100% ideal, they do remove a lot of impurities including bacteria, parasites, pesticides, heavy metals like lead, mercury or arsenic and flouride (which is a controversial topic all on its own). Unfortunately they also remove essential trace minerals that our body needs and while the Pure Tech filter adds some of these back in, this is more like taking a vitamin instead of eating wholesome food.
SO the question remains, what is the best drinking water solution for Dubai residents…
While tap water is definitely the cheapest option, the fact that while the Dubai Municipality assures us that the water leaving their purification plant is safe to drink, as recently as Aug 2013 they can’t guarantee that the water stored in your building’s water tank is still drinkable makes this option sketchy.
This leaves us with the bottled water vs the RO filtered water option. From a cost perspective installing a purifier at home requires a bit of an investment – the Pure Tech quote was AED 2500 – however over time the cost becomes quite a lot less (something like 40 fils per gallon vs about AED 10 per 4-5 gallon bottle).
But to be honest both are quite good options that have their own advantages and disadvantages:
|Advantages||Filtered to meet drinking water standardsMay contain natural minerals (as per the label)||Filter to meet drinking water standardsRemove harmful toxins commonly found in ground water due to pollution
Less expensive over time
|Disadvantages||Have no control over how long bottles are exposed to heatExpensive
Negative impact on the environment
At the same time, as per the information provided on bottled water safety by Health Canada, no research to date indicates that the claim that chemicals leach into bottled water are true.
While I’m still considering getting the RO filter installed @ home (though I’m still on the look out for a good carbon block filter), surprisingly the sales guy at Pure Tech actually made me feel much more comfortable about drinking my bottled water!
If you are looking for how to choose a good bottled water here, check out Time Out’s article on Dubai’s Best Bottled Water.
So as some of you may have noticed I’ve been in hibernation from blogging for a while… the end of 2013 was a bit more hectic than I anticipated and unfortunately some things had to be put on the back burner, though I missed this space a lot!
But now that we’re already well into 2014 and things have finally settled down a bit on my end, one of the things high on my priority list is to share my knowledge with you more frequently, along with listening and learning more. So I hope I’ll be providing you with interesting content this year and in turn I always look forward to your feedback and suggestions.
There are some other changes you may notice – for one thing I’ve updated the look of the blog, part of freshening things up for the new year. (I hope you like it). But more importantly I’ve changed the tag line from Skinny Food Addict to Skinny Foodaholic. That’s because food addiction has recently started to become recognized as a medical condition, and I definitely do not want to misrepresent this blog nor do I want to make light of a serious health concern.
But enough with the updates, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner… and while it’s not such a big deal for me since I’m happily single at the moment – I know I will definitely be making some time to pamper myself and my loved ones on the 14th (as I think all of us, in a relationship or not, should do)!
And since you guys are part of my extended family in a way, I thought I’d share this great little recipe for making your own chocolate dipped strawberries from All Recipes. I love it because it’s so easy (it takes less than 30 min to make), the kids can get involved too and it’s a great way to get 1/2 a serving of fruit in while you’re enjoying dessert!
To make this recipe a bit more wholesome I would suggest using dark chocolate (preferably at least 70% cocoa) and either coconut oil or real (unsalted) butter instead. And rolling your strawberries, or any other fruit of your choosing for that matter, in nuts or coconut flakes rather than drizzling them with white chocolate adds a bit more nutrition as well.
For those of you who are curious, this recipe makes 12 – 1/4 cup servings (which is about 2 large or 3 medium size strawberries) and contains about 190 kcal/serving.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
As many of you who are acquainted with Muslims know, Ramadan is our month of fasting. It’s also a time for developing patience, will-power and discipline that is meant to benefit us throughout the remainder of the year. And a time of solidarity between all human beings which naturally translates into a time of generosity, good will and charity.
Fasting, of course, is not unique to Islam – it plays a predominant role in many religions/cultures. And while modern medicine is still on the fence about whether or not it is good for your health, ancient/holistic wisdom embraces it as an essential way to flush out the toxins we’ve accumulated in our systems over time. This is a concept that’s also been picked up by mainstream culture as juice or water fasting has become a popular way to jump start weight loss or embrace a healthier lifestyle.
While it sounds pretty straight forward, anyone who’s fasted before knows it isn’t quite as simple as it seems. More importantly not everyone who fasts necessarily benefits fully from the detoxification that should naturally come from this process.
Considering most of us are on our 10th fast today (depending of course on the time zone and day the month started in your area), and are therefore already 1/3 way through Ramadan, I thought this would be a good time to share 3 key strategies that will ensure that your fasting (whether its for Ramadan/Lent/health reasons, etc.) results in effective detoxing:
1) First and foremost, don’t forget to nourish yourself - If you are fasting for Ramadan than you know that this is a time that is filled with many traditions especially ones that involve food. It is also a time when families and friends often gather around the table together. So it isn’t uncommon for many of us to cycle between short periods of feasting on delicacies like samosas, pakoras, atayar, baklava, kunafa, etc. (you get the picture), before and after our fasts. However, not only can this practice actually increase hunger and cravings during the day as our blood sugar levels go for a roller coaster ride, it can also hinder our body’s ability to cleanse itself as energy is directed back to the digestive process instead. The truth is, you don’t actually need to eat like a lion as much as you need to eat smart in order to stave off hunger during the day. So instead of focusing on “quantity” (which would be important if you didn’t actually know when your next meal were going to be), the key is to think “quality”. Keep in mind that different foods get converted into energy for our system at different times. As we all know, simple carbs get burned right away (within 1-3hrs) while proteins, fats and complex carbs get digested and converted into energy at a slower pace (between 3-6 hrs). Therefore having normal sized meals that contain a good mix of all of these elements works best. For Ramadan, this means:
- having a Sahur with staying power (eggs, foul, yogurt, nuts, whole grain breads and cereals are all good choices),
- keeping Iftar light (focus on rehydrating your system with soups, 100% fruit juices, and plenty of water),
- having a nourishing dinner (while Ramadan is filled with not so healthy but delicious delicacies it also has a host of healthier foods like adas, lisan asfoor, harira, chole, lassi, fruit chaat etc. that do more than just tantalize your taste buds) and
- snacking through the night (nature has created some of the most perfect desserts in fruit- and with summer in full swing there is no shortage of sweet choices like mangos, melons, cherries, figs, etc to indulge in)
Similarly, if you are undertaking juice or water fasting, it is important to make sure the meals you have a few days prior to starting and finishing the process don’t simply provide calories but are also nutrient dense (i.e. rich in essential vitamins and minerals) as this will ensure that your body has all it needs to cleanse itself and then stay healthy in the long run.
2) Embrace your hunger (and everything that goes with it from the low energy, to the dull headache, easy irritability, etc.) – it’s all part of the experience. Whether your fasting for spiritual or health reasons, one thing is for sure – you WILL feel hungry. But embracing this idea will allow you to redirect your thoughts from your growling tummy to appreciating the why, what and how of your fast and the benefits you are gaining from doing it. From building will-power to banishing health issues (like gastric upset, fatigue, recurring allergies, etc.) to building solidarity with the millions of people on the planet who go hungry every day, there are many perks that come from giving your GI tract a bit of a break.
3) Take time to meditate - thanks in part to Hollywood, we’re all familiar with the young Brave who embarks on a hunger quest to seek higher understanding. Though it seems contradictory, fasting actually does give us a sense of greater clarity such that problems that might have felt unsurmountable before seem less intimidating. Whether its in the form of prayer, yoga or simply sitting quietly, fasting helps you to slow down, reflect and be more contemplative as you shift your focus from the daily hustle and bustle to introverting within and focusing on healing.
If you are detoxing well this is the time you should start noticing subtle changes to your body composition (i.e. those love handles and/or belly chub look a lot better) even without any exercise or weight loss.
Ramadan Kareem everyone!