ISLAMABAD-A diet expert on Saturday warned that poor diet and lifestyle during Ramazan could pose grave health risks to fasting Muslims.

Clinical dietician Dr Zubair Noman said that meals during Ramazan are divided into four parts; Iftar, after Taraweeh prayers, midnight and sehri. It is common to have Iftar full of flavoured dishes as it can include food choices from both lunch and dinner but it should still be a healthy meal and overeating should be avoided, he added. The Sehri meal is considered the ‘must-have’ main meal in order to avoid hunger during fasting hours. Proteins, oils and complex carbohydrates are the best choices for Seher. Skipping sehri or eating fast foods high in fat and salt can also trigger thirst during fasting hours.

Traditional foods such as fried samosa, Pakora, oily food and sugary drinks are calorie packed and should be prepared in a more healthy way.

Expert also advise against drinking too much tea and coffee in Ramadan as they tend to block iron absorption and increase urine flow that can lead to dehydration. It is advisable to replace tea and coffee with mint and ginger drinks to avoid bloating. Ideally, a fasting person should drink up to eight glasses of water between Iftar and Sehri, he added. The expert suggests brisk walk, slow jogging, cycling, cross training and light machine exercises at gym for the Ramazan.

“Enjoy your meals during iftar and sehri, but avoid overeating by eating slowly and making healthy choices. If you are not careful about how much and what types of food you are consuming, you may also gain weight”, Dr said.

For iftar, he advises eating plenty of vegetables to get the required vitamins and nutrients. Choose whole grains, which also provide energy with fibers, grilled or baked lean meat such as skinless chicken or fish which are good sources of protein.

“Eating dates is a traditional and healthy way to break your fast,” says Dr, adding, dates are an excellent source of fibre and natural sugars, which help boost energy levels. Expert says, savouries traditionally eaten at iftaar are cut down in many homes and families are now choosing instead to consume full meals.  There is also a change in cooking methods, with samosas baked instead of fried. There is definitely greater awareness of cholesterol, diabetes and obesity.