Fasting during Ramadan can be deeply meaningful, and the Iftar meal after a day of fasting provides both much-needed nutrition and a chance to gather and celebrate with friends and family. But fasting can also be a challenge to efforts to follow a healthy lifestyle. After fasting all day, many people overdo things in the evening, drinking sugary drinks and eating heavy meals full of fatty and sugary treats. This can leave you feeling tired and sluggish and wondering how you can be gaining weight while fasting daily.

Our GetHealthyPhilly program has pulled together a few simple tips can help keep you feeling good and keep your body healthy throughout this holiday season:

  • Don’t skip the pre-dawn meal. Even if you’re not hungry, you need some healthy food. Try for whole grains and protein along with some fruits and/or vegetables: oatmeal with fruit or egg whites with spinach are two easy options.
  • Hydrate. Let’s say that again: hydrate. Drink at least 2 glasses of water with your pre-dawn meal and make sure to drink as the first step in breaking your fast each day, and then with and after the Iftar meal.
  • To avoid the urge to overeat at night, break your fast with a big glass of water and then wait a few minutes before eating anything else (it’s OK to eat 2-3 dates if that is your custom, but avoid eating too many of these calorie-dense fruits). The water will help fill you up so that you’re not tempted to overeat.
  • Fill half of your plate with vegetables and eat them before you start the rest of your meal. Sip some water while you are eating. The goal is to slow yourself down so that you have time to start feeling full.
  • Enjoy less healthy foods in limited portions and numbers. Choose mostly healthy options and, if you need a treat, make it a small one.
  • Stay active, but time your activity either early in the morning or 2 hours or more after your evening meal.
  • Celebrate with friends and family. Social connections are one of the factors most important to a long and healthy life. Enjoy each other’s company and relax together.

Ramadan Mubarak!