As the holy month approaches, the nutrition programs, questions, and debates begin to rise again. It could sometimes get extremely overwhelming with the amount of information out there and sometimes you just want that simple direct EVIDENCE-BASED answer to your questions. We sat down with Nutritionist Zahwa Farouk to learn more about what a balanced Iftar and Suhoor should look like.
Can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Zahwa Farouk. I’m Registered with the Association for Nutrition in the UK and my bachelor’s degree in Nutrition is from a Russel Group University.
As a nutritionist, what advice would you give for building a healthy plate during Iftar and Suhour in terms of food groups and portion sizes?
Always keep this in mind, any healthy balanced plate needs starchy carbs think whole-wheat (brown bread, brown pasta, potatoes, etc) , lean protein (chicken breasts, lean beef, fish, lentils, chickpeas) healthy fats found in (salmon, nuts, fava beans, etc) -sometimes these occur naturally through oils and specific vegetables) and fiber which helps keep our gut healthy and full; and we find that in vegetables and fruits.
Can you give us some examples?
Take these examples as a guide, but ALWAYS keep in mind the cooking method makes the WHOLE difference.
Popular Egyptian starchy carbs include basmati rice, baked potatoes, freekeh
Popular Egyptian lean protein include: baked chicken, minced meat, fish dishes that aren’t fried
Healthy fats are found in nuts and nut oils (sesame oil) and olive oils + legumes like beans whether it’s lobya or fava beans
Believe it or not, stuffed eggplants/ pepper when done steamed with minced meat without butter or ghee or oil is actually healthy and a great meal.
What should we avoid during Ramadan?
Try as much as you can to avoid ghee, heavy creams, and heavy buttery sauces like béchamel; they do more bad than good; trust me; when you’re bloated after it’s usually because of that.
What about portions?
Make sure you increase the healthy fats portions during suhour along side the starchy carbs and protein to keep you feeling fuller and energized the next day. Add avocados, fava beans is a great source of healthy fats, cheese is not necessarily heathy fats but it’s an alright source, you can add nuts to your yogurt along side whatever else you are having.
Unfortunately, portions vary from person to person depending on many factors like goals, age, gender, physical activity level and lifestyle, however, use this as a guide for your macros portions: Fill half your plate with vegetables (raw or grilled or sauteed or stirfried), a quarter with lean protein and a quarter with starchy carbs. Avoid as much as you can any fried foods, but if necessary during a 3ezouma ADD them onto your already full healthy plate, and that automatically lowers your chances of you OVER indulging in them cause you already have the healthier options on your plate.
That was really helpful! Thank you, Zahwa
I hope this helps as many people as possible. Feel free to reach out to me on my Ig zahwaao for any questions or any other nutrition enquires. Have a blessed healthy month ahead.