Suhur: the most important meal

During the first episode of our Ramadan special, we discussed with nutritionist Christelle Bedrossian how to adopt a healthy suhur.

Most people tend to eat only the Iftar meal. They skip Suhur, thinking that it leads to an increase in weight or simply because they do not want to wake up early in the morning. Suhur acts as the breakfast (the breaking of the overnight fast). Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and during Ramadan – it’s the meal that will sustain you for the next few hours. Don’t skip the meal before dawn. Research has shown that breakfast provides the essential nutrients and energy needed for concentration while keeping hunger symptoms like headaches, fatigue, sleepiness and restlessness at bay. It provides 30% of your daily needs of protein, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and your body needs in energy until the end of the fast.

In view of the long hours of fasting, you should consume slow digesting foods including fiber containing-foods rather than fast-digesting foods so that the food lasts longer making you less hungry. Slow digesting foods last up to 8 hours, while fast-digesting foods last for only 3 to 4 hours.
Slow-digesting foods are foods that will help release energy slowly during the long hours of fasting. You can find Complex carbohydrates in grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, beans. You can find fibers as well in potatoes with skin, vegetables such as green beans and almost all fruit, including apricots, prunes and figs.
Fast-burning foods are foods that contain sugar, white bread etc. (called refined carbohydrates).
Consuming enough protein will keep you feeling full until the next meal. Good sources of protein include fish, skinless chicken, lean meat cuts, and legumes (chickpeas and beans), nuts and seeds.

Here are some ideas for a healthy Suhur:

  • Make sure that the Suhur contains three of the food pyramid groups (1- starch, 2- milk and dairy products,3- meat and grains, 4- fruits, 5-Vegetables)
  • Foul mdammas with markouk bread
  • Boiled eggs with brown Arabic bread
  • Halloum sandwich with cucumber in brown Arabic bread
  • 0% fat Labneh sandwich with thyme and tomatoes in brown baguette and 1-2 tsp of olive oil
  • 1 cup of 0% fat milk with sugar-free and high-fiber breakfast cereals.
  • Make sure to have vegetables in order to avoid constipation and to feel full
  • Eat 1-2 servings of fruits, as a last item like Dates or bananas or instead a cup of juice that are good sources of sugars; they can bring low blood glucose levels to normal levels but don’t add sugar to it
  • Drink fluids enough water and liquids to keep you hydrated during the day and assist with digestion

We should avoid the following:

  • Caffeinated beverages (coffee and tea) in order to be able to get back to sleep again and because they are diuretic
  • Overeating
  • High sodium foods like soups, sauces, condiments, high sodium bread products, and canned meats
  • Eating fried foods and heavy oil items that can cause heartburn and problems for you all day

Conclusion:

  • Adopt a healthy suhur
  • For  fast Suhur preparation: Check that all the components of your Suhur are available before going to sleep.

Ramadan Kareem to all!

Love,

Helwi El Hayet

Follow us on Twitter: @HelwiElHayet

About helwielhayet

Helwi el-Hayet discusses your favorite topics every week day at 4:30 p.m. Beirut time. From fashion to psychology to books to art to nutrition to cooking and coaching (and much, much more), Helwi el-Hayet is here to shed light on the latest trends and to share with you reports, interviews and recipes from Lebanon and the region!
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