Dieting with Obstacles - Ramadan - is weight loss achievable?

Claire de Ravin
09-18-2005, 09:45 PM
I am trying the Thanksgiving Challenge (challenges keep me motivated), but I am a Muslim, and Ramadan is coming up. For those of you who don't know, Ramadan is when you get up before sunrise and eat and finish before sunrise. Then you go to bed, go on with the rest of the day, blah blah blah, then precisely at sunset, you eat (it doesn't matter how much...)

Today, I fasted because it was the 15th in the month before Ramadan (very special day for Muslims, you pray and get a clean slate). I discovered it was not that hard to eat properly - I didn't overeat just because I was starving all day. I ate a little at a time until I was filled up, but not stuffed.

The problem is, I don't know WHAT to eat and how MUCH. Can anyone help me?

09-26-2005, 12:26 AM
Well, I think the most important thing is to make sure that you get your 5 servings of fruit/vegetables. Five servings sounds like alot to eat at once, but if you had a bowl of mixed fruit, and maybe some roasted vegetables, it would be easier, than trying to eat them all seperate. Beans/legumes are a good choice too, because then you are also getting the protien that you need. Good luck :)

09-26-2005, 02:25 PM
Hi Claire -

I stumbled across your post over the weekend, and was concerned that no one had answered. But, since I had absolutely nothing helpful to say, i emailed a very kind, wise friend of mine, a very observant Muslim who fasts regularly. here's his answer, and i hope this helps. if you want more information, just let me know.

During Ramadan, you would need to fast unless you had a medical reason exempt you from fasting. Any medical reason or menstrual cycle (which weakens the body due to the bleeding) would exempt you from fasting. Your dieting, albeit food restrictions and/or variations can still be maintained, allowing for the time you haven not eaten during the fasting times. If for any reason you feel worsened through the process (medical reasoning) you are exempt from fasting at that time.

I would add that as a Muslim and someone who fasts regularly it is hard to over eat when you fast at this time of the year. Your stomach and appetite will not allow for it. It is important to eat and drink things that will help you quench your thirst and control your satiety. Also it is important that you drink plenty of water and maintain a good salt intake. Over the days the body, especially a young one, can need this more than the real substance of food. It is difficult to intake salts especially in a short amount of time and if you feel weak or annexed with any Medical difficulty then you should stop fasting and seek medical help.

09-27-2005, 06:13 PM
All my muslim friends at work (the female ones) find Ramadan really hard - the boys just accept they are going to get bigger dyring Ramadan - , and nearly always gain weight, or at least maintain. A muslim can't eat or drink during the daylight hours, so can't keep drinking water during daylight hours. And all meals are taken early in the morning and late at night, so the temptation is there to overeat, especially if you are active during the day.

I would try to keep your meals as low fat as possible (but still include some healthy fats, such as fish and nuts), have plenty of protein and fruit and veggies, and take it easy on the carbs and keep to low GI carbs. If it were me, my goal would be to maintain during Ramadan, and be happy to take a loss if you do have a loss, but not beat yourself up if you don't lose.

We used to look after muslim students when I was younger, and as an adult I have worked with muslim families, and I think the biggest temptation is that in my experience the Ramadan meals of an evening are fabulous, and a real community occasion, and perhaps that will be the biggest challenge. Keep us posted, and prayers are with you during your Holy and special time.

Claire de Ravin
09-27-2005, 08:43 PM
Thank you everyone, you really helped! There are a lot of community party type things (ie with family, a LOT of food), and I'll watch my portion size and actual food. I am still going to exercise, but not strenuously. Hey, at least I won't eat fast food type things like I eat at school during lunch right now (I am going to take sandwiches from now on). I managed not to overeat obn the 15th (it was a fasting day...something special), even when I couldn't eat for longer than usual (nearly 7!) I ate slowly and watched what I ate, I didn't rush.

Thank you once again, this should be an interesting challenge (I didn't used to care before).

10-03-2005, 01:33 AM
It's awesome you're thinking it all through and wanting to eat healthfully. You go, girl! :)

Claire de Ravin
10-09-2005, 07:52 AM
Hey, thanks! I did eat a little more than usual last night, but it's weird, I didn't gain anything. :dizzy: :p , maybe cause I was running after my little cousins (that was my exercise of the day, lol, I didn't have a chance to exercise yesterday). I am goign to exercise later, but it's nearly 7 in the morning right now. I can't sleep.

EDIT: I just weighed myself! I am now 111! :D

10-11-2005, 04:11 PM
claire, honey, i'm glad to see that you're doing so well. i'm wondering, though, how tall you are! 110 pounds is a tiny person!!!!!! maybe you're pushing the envelope????

blessings of ramadan to you and your family....

10-11-2005, 07:31 PM
Salaam Alaikum Wa Rahmatulahi Wa Baraktuhu ;)

I will post an excellent article for you that I read, maybe it will help you also.

Eid Mubarak yakhty

10-11-2005, 07:32 PM
Diet during Ramzan
Fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan can be good for one's health and personal development. Ramadan fasting is not just about disciplining the body to restrain from eating food and drinking water from predawn until sunset. The eyes, the ears, the tongue, and even the private parts are equally obligated to be restrained if a Muslim wants to gain the total rewards of fasting. Ramadan is also about restraining anger, doing good deeds, exercising personal discipline, and preparing oneself to serve as a good Muslim and a good person during and after Ramadan.

This is why the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him, Pbuh) has been attributed, by Hazrat Abu Hurairah in hadith, to say: "He who does not desist from obscene language and acting obscenely (during the period of fasting), Allah has no need that he didn't eat or drink." (Bukhari, Muslim). In another hadith by Hazrat Abu Harairah, the Prophet (Pbuh) said: "Fasting is not only from food and drink, fasting is to refrain from obscene (acts). If someone verbally abuses you or acts ignorantly toward you, say (to them) 'I am fasting; I am fasting." (Ibn Khuzaoinah). Restraint from food, water, and undesirable behavior makes a person more mentally disciplined and less prone to unhealthy behavior. In an investigation in Jordan (1), a significant reduction of parasuicidal cases was noted during the month of Ramadan. In the United Kingdom, the Ramadan model has been used by various health departments and organizations to reduce cigarette smoking among the masses, especially among Africans and Asians (2).

Ramadan fasting has spiritual, physical, psychological, and social benefits; however, manmade problems may occur, if fasting is not properly practiced. First of all, there is no need to consume excess food at iftar (the food eaten immediately after sunset to break fast), dinner or sahur ( the light meal generally eaten about half an hour to one hour before dawn). The body has regulatory mechanisms that activate during fasting. There is efficient utilization of body fat. Basal metabolism slows down during Ramadan fasting. A diet that is less than a normal amount of food intake but balanced is sufficient enough to keep a person healthy and active during the month of Ramadan.

Health problems can emerge as a result of excess food intake, foods that make the diet unbalanced, and insufficient sleep. Ultimately also, such a lifestyle contradicts the essential requirements and spirit of Ramadan.


According to Sunna (the practices of Prophet Muhammad, Pbuh) and research findings referred in this report, a dietary plan is given:

1. Meat/Beans/ Nut Group: 2-3 servings/day. 2. Milk and Milk Product Group: 2-3 servings/day. 3. Vegetable Group: 3-5 servings/day. 4. Fruit Group: 2-4 servings/day. 5. Added sugar (table sugar, sucrose): sparingly. 6. Added fat, polyunsaturated oil 4-7 table spoons.

Breakfast, iftar: Dates, three
Juice, 1 serving (4 oz.)
Vegetable soup with some pasta or graham crackers, 1 cup

The body's immediate need at the time of iftar is to get an easily available energy source in the form of glucose for every living cell, particularly the brain and nerve cells. Dates and juices are good sources of sugars. Dates and juice in the above quantity are sufficient to bring low blood glucose levels to normal levels. Juice and soup help maintain water and mineral balance in the body. An unbalanced diet and too many servings of sherbets and sweets with added sugar have been found to be unhealthy.


Consume foods from all the following food groups:

Meat/Bean Group: Chicken, beef, lamb, goat, fish, 1-2 servings (serving size =1 oz); green pea, chickpea (garbanzo, chana), green gram, black gram, lentil and other beans, 1 serving (half cup). Meat and beans are a good source of protein, minerals, and certain vitamins. Beans are a good source of dietary fiber, as well.

Bread/Cereal Group: Whole wheat bread, 2 servings (serving size = 3 tbsp flour) or cooked rice, one cup or combination. This group is a good source of complex carbohydrates, plus a good source of energy and provides some protein, minerals, and dietary fiber.

Milk Group: milk or butter-milk (lassi without sugar), yogurt or cottage cheese (one cup). Those who can not tolerate whole milk must try fermented products such as butter-milk and yogurt. Milk and dairy products are good sources of protein and calcium, which are essential for body tissue maintenance and several physiological functions.

Vegetable Group: Mixed vegetable salad, 1 serving (one cup), (lettuce, carrot, parsley, cucumber, broccoli, coriander leaves, cauliflower or other vegetables as desired.) Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil or any vegetable oil (poly unsaturated) and 2 spoons of vinegar. Polyunsaturated fat provides the body with essential fatty acids and keto acids. Cooked vegetables such as guar beans, French beans, okra (bhindi), eggplant (baigan), bottle gourd (loki), cabbage, spinach, 1 serving (1/2 cup). Vegetables are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, carotene, lycopenes, and other phytochemicals, which are antioxidants. These are helpful in the prevention of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and many other health problems.

Fruits Group: 1-2 servings of citrus and/or other fruits. Eat fruits as the last item of the dinner or soon after dinner, to facilitate digestion and prevent many gastrointestinal problems. Citrus fruits provide vitamin C. Fruits are a good source of dietary fiber. Fruits and mixed nuts may be eaten as a snack after dinner or tarawiaha or before sleep.

Pre-dawn Meal (sahur): Consume a light sahur. Eat whole wheat or oat cereal or whole wheat bread, 1-2 serving with a cup of milk. Add 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil or any other monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats in a salad or the cereal. Eat 1-2 servings of fruits, as a last item.

Further suggestions:

Drink sufficient water between Iftar and sleep to avoid dehydration.
Consume sufficient vegetables at meals. Eat fruits at the end of the meal.
Avoid intake of high sugar (table sugar, sucrose) foods through sweets or other forms.
Avoid spicy foods.
Avoid caffeine drinks such as coke, coffee or tea. Caffeine is a diuretic. Three days to five days before Ramadan gradually reduce the intake of these drinks. A sudden decrease in caffeine prompts headaches, mood swings and irritability.
Smoking is a health risk factor. Avoid smoking cigarettes. If you cannot give up smoking, cut down gradually starting a few weeks before Ramadan. Smoking negatively affects utilization of various vitamins, metabolites and enzyme systems in the body.
Do not forget to brush or Miswak. Brush your teeth before sleep and after sahur. Brush more than two times or as many times as practicable.
Normal or overweight people should not gain weight. For overweight people Ramadan is an excellent opportunity to lose weight. Underweight or marginally normal weight people are discouraged from losing weight. Analyzing a diet's energy and nutritional component, using food composition tables or computer software, will be useful in planning an appropriate diet.
Avoid Over-eating especially at sehri
It is recommended that everyone engage in some kind of light exercise, such as stretching or walking. It's important to follow good time management practices for Ibadat, sleep, studies, job, and physical activities or exercise.
Problems we usually face during Ramadan:


Constipation can cause piles (hemorrhoids), fissures (painful cracks in anal canal) and indigestion with a bloated feeling. Causes: Too much refined foods, too little water and not enough Fiber in the diet. Remedy: Avoid excessive refined foods, increase water intake, use bran in baking, brown flour when making bread. Indigestion and wind:

Causes: Over-eating. Too much fried and fatty foods, spicy foods, and foods that produce wind e.g. eggs, cabbage, lentils, carbonated drinks like cola also produce gas. Remedy: Do not over-eat, drink fruit juices or better still drink water. Avoid fried foods. Lethargy ('low blood pressure'):

Excessive sweating, weakness, tiredness, lack of energy, dizziness, especially on getting up from sitting position, pale appearance and feeling faint are symptoms associated with "low blood pressure". This tends to occur towards the afternoon. Causes: Too little fluid intake, decreased salt intake. Remedy: Keep cool, increase fluid and salt intake. Caution: Low blood pressure should be confirmed by taking a blood pressure reading when symptoms are present. Persons with high blood pressure may need their medication adjusted during Ramadan. They should consult their doctor. Headache:

Causes: Caffeine and tobacco-withdrawal, doing too much in one day, lack of sleep, hunger usually occur as the day goes by and worsens at the end of the day. When associated with "low blood pressure", the headache can be quite severe and can also cause nausea before Iftar. Remedy: Cut down caffeine and tobacco slowly starting a week or two before Ramadan. Herbal and caffeine-free teas may be substituted. Reorganize your schedule during Ramadan so as to have adequate sleep.

Low Blood Sugar:

Weakness, dizziness, tiredness, poor concentration, perspiring easily, feeling shaky (tremor), unable to perform physical activities, headache, palpitations are symptoms of low blood sugar. Causes in non-diabetics: Having too much sugar i.e. refined carbohydrates especially at sehar. The body produces too much insulin causing the blood glucose to drop. Remedy: Eat something at suhur and limit sugar-containing foods and drinks. Caution: Diabetics may need to adjust their medication in Ramadan, consult your doctor.

Muscle Cramps:

Causes: Inadequate intake of calcium, magnesium and potassium foods. Remedy: Eat foods rich in the above minerals e.g. vegetables, fruit, dairy products, meat and dates. Caution: Those on high blood pressure medication and with kidney stone problems should consult their doctor.

Peptic Ulcers, Heart Burn, Gastritis and Hiatus Hernia:

Increased acid levels in the empty stomach in Ramadan aggravate the above conditions. It presents as a burning feeling in the stomach area under the ribs and can extend up to the throat. Spicy foods, coffee, and Cola drinks worsen these conditions. Medications are available to control acid levels in the stomach. People with proven peptic ulcers and hiatus hernia should consult their doctor well before Ramadan.

Kidney Stones:

Kidney stones may occur in people who have less liquids to drink. Therefore, it is essential to drink extra liquids so as to prevent stone formation.

Joint Pains:

Causes: During Ramadan, when extra salah are performed the pressure on the knee joints increases. In the elderly and those with arthritis this may result in pain, stiffness, swelling and discomfort. Remedy: Exercise the lower limbs before Ramadan so that they can be prepared for the additional strain. Being physically fit allows greater fulfillment, thus enabling one to be able to perform salah with ease.

Fasting Guidelines for Diabetics:

Most physicians discourage fasting for insulin dependant diabetic patients because of the danger of ketosis or hypoglycemia. On the contrary, fasting can be advantageous for non insulin dependant diabetics (except for pregnant or nursing mothers) whose diabetes is stable, and whose weight level is 20% above the ideal weight or whose body mass index is greater than 28. The body mass index (body weight, kg/height, meters squared) is used as an indicator for determine if one is over weight.

List of guidelines patients must follow during Ramadan:

Consult your nutritionist before fasting during Ramadan to make adjustments to your diet.
Consult your physician to adjust your insulin and medication doses. The quantity of these drugs must be reduced and the administration times should be shifted.
Check your blood glucose level several times a day to avoid hypoglycemia during the fast and hyperglycemia form increased food intake at night.
Continue following your routine physical activity and avoid extra exertions and stressful situations.
Be aware of warning symptoms of diabetes; such as dehydration and hypoglycemia.
Most physicians do not recommend fasting to those with poorly controlled non insulin dependant diabetes, those with vascular complications, the elderly, pregnant and breast feeding diabetics, and women with gestational diabetes (diabetes of pregnancy)
Nutritionists' advice that diabetic dietary rules generally followed in the non fasting period should adhered to during the Ramadan fasts. Excessive gorging after Iftar and compensatory eating of carbohydrates and fatty foods may result in hyperglycemia and weight gain, and therefore must be avoided. Diabetics must be reminded to abstain from high calorie and highly refined foods during this month. It is highly recommended that the practice of having a massive Iftar should be avoided; instead those who fast to have an Iftar, followed by a light meal and a late night snack.
In summary, intake of a balanced diet is critical to maintain good health, sustain an active lifestyle and attain the full benefits of Ramadan.

By Nadia Ishtiaq - Dietician Shifa International Hospital, Islamabad

10-12-2005, 12:12 AM
Wow, there's good information in that article even for non-Islamic friends.

11-04-2005, 07:53 PM
I would like to know how tall you are as well, cause unless your 4'1 I can't see how you need to lose more. Of coarse it depends on how you view your body and hopefully it is in a healthy way.