We are halfway through Ramadan, but that doesn't mean we still can't make the most of this month inshallah! Today, I wanted to address a topic that you might not want to talk about, but it is a reality for many people during this month: digestive problems.
It is a bit of an embarrassing topic so at first I drafted this as an email only to my subscribers. However, after putting it together, I realized this would be beneficial to many people so I am putting it together as a I didn't want to talk about it on social media, but if you have experienced digestive issues during Ramadan, you know how uncomfortable it can be and why it is important to alleviate it!
I am going to cover 4 main digestive issues, with a bonus one that isn't necessarily related to your digestive system but is related to your bodily functions.
Constipation Constipation is the number one complaint during Ramadan. It almost becomes a norm to not be going to the washroom daily and you might think it is because you are not eating throughout the day. However, constipation doesn't have to be a normal part of this month! There are two main aspects that need to be addressed: fibre and water. Now, I don't want you to go take a fibre supplement because this might make things worst. It is important to get fibre from natural food sources. At the same time, you HAVE to drink enough water otherwise this increased fibre will also make you constipated. Fibre sources include: vegetables, fruit, whole grains (oatmeal, whole grain bread) Bottom line: 1. Increase fibre: fruit+whole grains at suhoor (try this overnight oats recipe), 1/2 plate veggies at iftar. 2. Increase water to 8-12 cups: split this into 3 cups at suhoor, 2 cups at iftar, and 3-5 cups until bedtime.
Stomach Aches Stomach aches are hard to determine the cause because there can be a lot of different causes. It may be a combination of the overeating and consuming high fat foods. Often bloating is accompanied with stomach pain or discomfort. Another reason may be that you are sensitive to a specific food item or food group. However, if you are eating mixed dishes, it can be difficult to identify the culprit. First, try and slow down the iftar eating according to the tips listed above. If you are still experiencing stomach aches, you may have a sensitivity to a specific food. Bottom Line: 1. Follow tips above first. 2. If stomach ache persists, you may have to work with a Dietitian/Nutritionist to determine if you are sensitive to a food issue. This symptom may be accompanied with other digestive symptoms such as diarrhea and constipation.
Diarrhea Diarrhea isn't a common Ramadan issue but some may experience it shortly after eating either suhoor or iftar. This is often because of the combination of foods you are eating. Bottom Line: 1. Avoid eating high fat/sugary items at iftar. 2. Avoid eating a large amount of food within a short period of time (i.e. quickly eating a plate of food within 5-7 minutes is TOO fast). 3. Ensure you are eating foods that have been prepared correctly and are stored at the right temperature to ensure it isn't a mild form of food contamination.
Darker Urine Colour/Not Going To The Washroom Regularly Although this isn't a digestive concern, this is a bodily function that is significantly impacted during Ramadan. Often people think it is normal to not go to the washroom at all during Ramadan, however, this isn't necessarily an optimal sign. Either darker urine and/or not going to the washroom regularly throughout the day is often a sign of dehydration. Your urine should be a lighter colour (almost clear) throughout the day, however, it may get slightly darker towards the middle/end of the day. If you are adequately hydrated, you may find yourself surprisingly having to use the washroom well past the morning on fasting days. Bottom Line: 1. Drink 8-10 cups of water per fasting day. Split into suhoor (2-4 cups), iftar (2 cups), and post iftar (4-6 cups). 2. Eat high water content fruits and veggies such as berries, melon, cucumber, and romaine lettuce at suhoor and iftar.
3. Avoid sugary drinks and instead hydrate with water or fruit/herb infused water. 3. Keep track of how much you are using the washroom and the colour of your urine.