By: Sanaz Baradaran, MSc, RD

People fast for variety of reasons, including religious (eg, Muslims during the month of Ramadan). If you fast, it is very important to pay special attention to your diet to remain healthy. Here are five tips that could help you achieve this goal:

1. Eat a balanced meal before you start fasting (eg, Suhour)

Choose a meal that is high in protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and fibre. This would help keep you full for longer. Follow Canada’s food guide to ensure that your meal is balanced.

2. Dates are great for breaking your fast

Dates are high in potassium, which helps you with hydration and electrolyte balance. Consider having the dates with milk, which is hydrating, and high in calcium and protein.

3. Take a break before having your big meal

After breaking your fast, give yourself at least fifteen minutes before enjoying your main meal. You may consider attending to your prayers to create this gap. Also, giving your body time to absorb the nutrients from what you’ve eaten is a good strategy to prevent you from overeating.

4. Have a couple of nutritious snacks

After having your big meal, consider having one or two snacks before going to bed. Focus on choosing foods that are nutrient dense, and particularly high in protein.

Examples of high protein snacks include:

  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Fruit parfait made with plain yogurt (Greek yogurt is particularly high in protein)
  • Hummus and cut vegetables
  • Low-fat cheese and crackers

The snack that you have later before going to bed should also be high in complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.

Examples include:

  • A piece of fruit and a handful of nuts
  • Egg and avocado toast

5. Drink lots of water

Lastly, don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of fluids. Try to have a cup of coffee with your meal, Suhour, and each snack. Remember having other drinks (e.g. milk, tea), and fruits with particularly high water content ( e.g. watermelon) also help you with hydration. Just be sure to avoid sugary drinks such as pop and juice.