Let me start off by saying meal plans are a funny thing – you have the ones that you make in your head at the start of every morning (“I’ll have cereal and fruit for breakfast, a sandwich at lunch, and tacos for dinner!”) but there are also the ones you find online that are geared towards planning out your week well in advance.
That sort of long-term planning comes in handy most of the time but is especially important during Ramadan. Fasting for so many hours of the day means you might not have the energy to prepare intricate meals leading up to iftar (the meal you have when breaking your fast). Coupled with how tired most of us feel at suhoor (the pre-dawn meal that prepares you for fasting) it’s no wonder meal planning has become essential for many families.
Amana Nutrition’s Ramadan Meal Plan aims to help healthy adults plan what meals and snacks they should have at suhoor, iftar, and other times during non-fasting hours. It is by no means a prescription for healthy eating, but instead a guide to help you determine what times it would be best to have food and drink so you can stay fuller for longer during the fast and make sure you’re not missing out on important nutrients along the way 😉. Remember that living with certain conditions such as heart disease and diabetes means you need to make some modifications to your diet, so talk to your doctor and work with a Registered Dietitian (such as myself!) to plan what you should be eating during Ramadan and outside of it.
The meal plan features foods from traditionally Arab, EastAfrican, NorthAmerican, and SouthAsian cuisines to ensure you’re not missing out on staying true to your cultural backgrounds. Better yet, try foods that you might not be familiar with as well and let Ramadan be a time of culinary exploration 🌟.
Have recommendations for foods that you’d like to see on next year’s Ramadan Meal Plan or my Instagram? Shoot me an email and I’ll get working on it 😊.
If you plan to eat healthy, you’re more likely to! Make a list of groceries that you need to prepare your meals and snacks, and try to make that trip during the hours you’re not fasting. As they say, never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach!
2. Have each major (“macro”) nutrient at every meal
Having a variety of foods with protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats  ensures you are nourishing your body with different nutrients, doing your best to sustain it during your fast, and replenishing it after.
Missing out on even one macronutrient can have negative consequences for your health.
If you skip protein, you may:
get hungry quicker
end up eating more carbs and fats to compensate
not eat enough protein and may lose muscle over time
If you skip healthy fats, you may:
not be eating enough calories
get hungry quicker
end up eating more carbs and proteins to compensate
If you skip carbs, you may:
get low blood sugars (leading to headaches, dizziness, weakness, etc)
be low on energy
harm your body as your brain needs glucose (a carb) as a source of energy 
get hungry quicker
For examples of healthy food options that provide these macronutrients, click here .
3. Have Suhoor! It’s a blessed Islamic tradition (sunnah) and will help sustain yourself for the long fast
Have Suhoor as close as possibleto the pre-dawn (fajr) prayer. It will help you feel energized for longer.
Suhoor is a chance to nourish yourself during the few hours you can, and breaks up your meal times so you’re not having just one huge iftar.
Suhoor can lower the chance of a low blood sugar and theside effects that come with it (headaches, fatigue, and irritability)
Include foods that have protein, healthy fats, fibre, and more complex carbohydrates that will raise your blood sugar slowly, so you’re sustained for longer.
4. Hydration! Hydration! Hydration!
Water is your best choice of drink. It’s an Islamic tradition (sunnah) to break your fast with water, and that makes sense because healthy adults generally require up to9-12 cups of fluida day (depending on your sex, activity level, and even the weather) .
Note: Fluid is not just water, but can be food and drinks that contain water such as milk, soup, etc.
5. Limit the caffeine
Try to limit your caffeine intake to less than 3 cups a day (400mg of caffeine/day) . This is the amount that research has shown that does not cause your body to be dehydrated or make more urine (especially if you drink caffeine regularly).
6. Avoid overeating and have a small iftar
Prepare your iftar in advance and portion it out on your dinner table so you’re ready to make the best choices at the time when you’re most hungry and prone to overeating.
Have a glass or two of water ready (instead of sugary drinks like falooda, juice, or sodas) and some pre-cut fruits and veggies as well! Consider a bean/lentil salad too for a bit of protein, but leave the heavier meal for after maghrib.
7. Find fun ways to keep active without aggressive exercise training
It’s tempting in Ramadan to nap and be sedentary. Keep yourself active instead with light movements during the day and light to moderate exercise during non-fasting hours.
Aggressive training without proper nourishment (like when fasting!) can deplete your glycogen levels. Glycogen is a main source of energy in your body, so this can leave you less energized and can be harmful to your health.
8. Snacking is important!
Suhoor and iftar are only two meals. Would you have only two meals a day if you weren’t fasting? Try and sneak some snacks into your evening to try and give you extra nutrition instead. This will help give you more of those nutrients you missed during the day when fasting.
Consider snacking on your way to night prayers (taraweeh), on your way back, or before bed.
Make sure your snacks include sources of protein and carbohydrate. Consider greek yogurt and fruit!
9.Avoiding fried and sugary foods is hard in Ramadan, but it has to be done!
We all love a treat of fried/sugary goodness after a long fast. I mean, who doesn’t drool at the idea of samosas, pakoras, and baklava?
Fasting is super long, and you definitely do require calories and nutrients to replenish yourself, but fried and sugary foods aren’t it. It’s important to look at whereyou get those calories from, and the nutrientsthat come with it.
Let’s look at an example:
You’ve had a long fast and it’s now time for iftar. This is the time for your body to get the energy and variety of nutrients it needs! Two super tasty options are presented in front of you:
samosa and basbousa
nuts, bean salad, yogurt or fruit
Contains: saturated fat, refined sugar, little vitamins/minerals or fibre
While the first option is tempting, it will provide you with too much saturated fat and not enough healthy nutrients that your fasting body needs. The second option is also tasty but will give you the nutrients you need to stay healthy.
Remember: Ramadan is a time of spiritual growth and cleansing. Your body is an amana too, and it is important to take care of it, by eating beneficial and nutritious foods.
Make healthy eating a habit in Ramadan, and not the exception.
*Please be aware that these are general guidelines. Nutrition and intake varies by age, sex, height, activity, being pregnant or breastfeeding, and medical conditions. For more information or to sit with one of our dietitians for an individualized nutrition counselling session, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Contact Us page to book your first online appointment.
 Mergenthaler, P., Lindauer, U., Dienel, G. A., & Meisel, A. (2013). Sugar for the brain: the role of glucose in physiological and pathological brain function. Trends in neurosciences, 36(10), 587-597.
Everyone is different, so Diabetes Canada recommends seeing your health care provider 1-3 months before ramadan to determine if it is safe for you to fast .
Diabetes is a widespread issue in the Muslim community – you may even know someone living with it! There are over 148 million Muslims living with diabetes around the world . Checking your blood sugar, taking insulin, and remembering to take your medications… how do these coexist with fasting during the beautiful month of Ramadan? What does Islam say about this, and what does today’s research recommend?
ISLAM AND FASTING
Fasting in Islam is a requirement for healthy adults, however Allah (God) has allowed (and even recommended) that people with serious illnesses not fast.
This is clearly in the Qur’an (Islam’s Holy Book), which includes the following verse:
“The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ayah 185) 
Islamic scholars have explained that a person living with any sickness/medical condition that would worsen with fasting should avoid it . In addition, there are accounts of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) stating that, “Verily, Allah loves for you to take His concessions, just as He dislikes you to be disobedient” . These proofs, among others, show that Muslims should not feel bad for avoiding the fast for health reasons. But how does this tie into diabetes?
Fasting while living with diabetes can result in some serious risks :
Hypoglycemia, which means low blood sugar levels (<3.9mmol/L)
Hyperglycemia, which means high blood sugar levels (>16.7mmol/L) 
Dehydration & thrombosis, especially in hot and long days of fasting
Diabetic ketoacidosis, which means your body is breaking down fat, making your blood acidic. This is very dangerous and can lead to hospitalization.
Diabetes Canada explains that those with low to moderate risk that can fast with medical advice usually have diabetes that’s well controlled, healthy lifestyle measures in place, or an otherwise healthy individual that is treating diabetes with medication such as metformin, acarbose, incretin-therapies (DPP-4 inhibitors or GLP-1 RA), second generation SU, SGLT2 inhibitors, TZD) or basal insulin .
Always remember to check your blood sugars more often in Ramadan to make sure they are not too low or too high. Keep an eye on your symptoms for each and ask your doctor how to treat a high or low!
If you and your doctor decide that fasting in Ramadan is safe for you, one of the ways to help stabilize your blood sugars is to be mindful of what and when you eat! This is where evidenced based advice from a Dietitian comes in handy!
Suhoor (The Pre-Dawn Meal):
Suhoor is important and should be eaten as close as possible to the fajr (dawn prayer). An early suhoor means you’re just making the fast even longer – and we don’t want that!
To support this practice, we know the “Prophet (pbuh) said: “My Ummah (nation of followers) will not cease being upon goodness as long as they hasten in breaking the fast and delay the suhoor.” (Authentic, Musnad Imam Ahmad) 
Tips for Suhoor:
Have suhoor! This will help break up your daily food intake so you’re not just having one big meal at iftaar (the breaking of the fast) aka a sugar spike!
Eat a good amount! This will increase energy levels and lower the chance of low blood sugars
Be sure to include:
Carbohydrates: Have whole grains and foods with low glycemic index (these will raise blood sugars slowly)
Examples: whole grain bread/pita, whole wheat chappatti, laxoox/enjeero made with whole wheat flour, sareen (barley porridge), daal (lentils), or ful (fava beans).
Protein: Have protein to help you feel full longer.
Choose meat options, such as lean poultry, beef, or fatty fish, or meat alternatives, like eggs, beans, lentils, and tofu.
Fat: Have healthy unsaturated fats to help you feel full.
An example Suhoor: Vegetable omelet with whole grain bread, a cup of berries and water
As tempting as it is, try not to overeat! This will spike your blood sugars! Have a date and water to rehydrate, and avoid the fried samosa/sambusa/pakora/bhajia etc! They have little nutrition, and can fill you up when your body needs a nutritious and fulfilling meal. Ramadan is a time for spiritual cleansing, and it can be a great time to clean your diet too as your body is an amana!
Tips for Iftaar:
Follow the Plate Method:
½ plate with your favourite vegetables
¼ plate with protein
¼ plate with carbohydrates
As with suhoor, choose whole grains and low glycemic index foods (to avoid raising blood sugars too high), lean meats or meat alternatives, and healthy unsaturated fats.
An example of an iftar meal: Dolma (meat stuffed grape leaves) with whole wheat couscous, & fattoush salad.
Ramadan is a time for spiritual cleansing, and it can be a great time to clean your diet too as your body is an Amana!
Incorporate two snacks between iftar and suhoor.
Timing is everything. Going for taraweeh (Ramadan night prayers) at 10pm? Consider having a snack on your way to the mosque/musalla. Rehydrate with water in between prayers and go in for a second snack on your way back home before bed. (Remember: if you avoid overeating at iftar, you leave room for snacks to space out your food intake- i.e stable blood sugars)
These snacks should ultimately include both protein and carbs, so that the protein can slow down the absorption of carbs and not cause your blood sugars to spike.
Great ideas for snacks include greek yogurt (a good source of protein!) with some tropical fruit, such as mango. Maybe even get really fancy and have some almond butter (oh là là!) on whole grain crackers. Have fun with it!
Let us know what snack and meal ideas you come up with this Ramadan in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
**Ask your family doctor if fasting in Ramadan is safe for you. If you do decide to fast, it is important to talk to your doctor about any adjustments required, such as: medication dosage and timing, how often you should check your blood sugars, as well as when and how you should break your fast. **
*Please be aware that these are general guidelines. Nutrition and intake varies by age, sex, height, activity, being pregnant or breastfeeding, and medical conditions. For more information or to sit with one of our dietitians for an individualised nutrition counselling session, please contact us at email@example.com or visit our Contact Us page to book your first online appointment.
 Salti I, Benard E, Detournay B, et al. A population-based study of diabetes and its characteristics during the fasting month of Ramadan in 13 countries: results of the epidemiology of diabetes and Ramadan 1422/2001 (EPIDIAR) study. Diabetes Care 2004;27:2306-11.
 Surah al-Baqarah, Ayah 185. Sahih International English Translation.
 Musnad Aḥmad ibn Hanbal 5832. Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani
 Hassanein, M. (2018). The International Diabetes Federation- Diabetes and Ramadan: A Challenge and an Opportunity? . [PDF slides]. Retrieved from
 American Diabetes Association. (2004). Hospital admission guidelines for diabetes. Diabetes Care, 27(suppl 1), s103-s103.
 Bajaj, H. S., Abouhassan, T., Ahsan, M. R., Arnaout, A., Hassanein, M., Houlden, R. L., … & Verma, S. (2019). Diabetes Canada Position Statement for People With Types 1 and 2 Diabetes Who Fast During Ramadan. Canadian journal of diabetes, 43(1), 3-12.