Food is the highlight of any holiday for most people, and Ramadan is no exception. Yes, the main purpose is practicing self-control, becoming more spiritually-focused and building empathy towards the less fortunate, but sitting-down for the traditional iftar meal with family and friends is also a major part of the month-long period.
Unfortunately, we may like the way food tastes, especially after 14 hours abstaining from it, but we don’t always like the way it makes us feel.
Last year over 100 people were admitted to the emergency department of a Doha hospital suffering from abdominal pains after the first night of Ramadan.
“Most of the cases at the emergency room during Ramadan are gastritis, we see between 10 to 15 cases of overeating every day,” a medical staff member at Al Ahli Hospital told Arabian Business on the first night of the holy month last year.
These may seem like extreme cases, but no one looks forward to the feeling of heaviness, fatigue, gas, bloating and disturbed sleep cycles that can result from bad food combinations.
Here we outlined the top 10 food combinations that can cause your digestive system the most harm. You can still enjoy them over the course of the holiday of course, just not at the same time.
1-Fruit after a meal: Going up to the dessert buffet after iftar, fruits seem like the lesser of two evils. While this may be true, it still wreaks havoc on your digestive tract. All simple sugars digest quickly in your body, but once mixed with heavy proteins and fats they will stay in the stomach for a long period of time, ferment and cause your stomach to painfully bloat.
2-Dates and milk: If done incorrectly, this can actually be a very toxin-forming combination. If you are a fan of breaking your fast with dates and milk, make sure that the date is extremely ripe and add nutmeg and cardamom to stimulate digestion.
3-Surf n’ turf: Mixing seafood and meat should not happen in one meal. As a general rule, your body only needs one concentrated protein per meal. Having more than one can cause gastrointestinal complications especially if done over a long period of time.
4-Cheese and nuts: The same concept applies here. This combination will keep your stomach busy for at least eight hours which in turn will cause immediate fatigue and agitation, both to your stomach and your mood. Nuts and fruits are always a better combination and avoid having this power duo within an hour of any other food so that your body can benefit from all their nutrients.
5-Honey glazed proteins: Always try to avoid heating your honey. Whether it is on salmon, meat, chicken or nuts, when honey is overheated it loses all its healing properties and turns into a simple sugar.
6- Milk and orange juice: Acidic fruits or juices can curdle milk. Sour milk is then developed inside your body and the heavy mucus-forming substance causes nausea, chronic inflammation and bad breath.
7-Protein-starch combos: Combining protein and starch in one sitting inhibits the digestion of starch. The two food groups need different levels of acidity to be digested. For iftar, it is best to load up on a lean protein along with an array of vegetables (raw or cooked) in order to avoid insulin spikes that can cause fatigue followed by another bout of hunger.
8- Sodium rich foods: Excess salt levels in your diet can put you at risk of high blood pressure, kidney stones, headaches, enlarged heart muscles and heart failure. The short term effect is felt immediately the following day as you are fasting. The accumulated fluid retention leaves you feeling bloated, thirsty and light headed which gives you the increased sensation of hunger.
9-Dairy ice-cream: Cream, eggs, and sugar would be hard to digest in any state but having them ice-cold will certainly cause problems and hamper circulation in the digestive system. A better alternative is apple crumble with cinnamon.
10-Pizza with tomato sauce: Tomatoes are considered acidic and are not advised to be mixed with starchy carbs. Food combining theory recommends avoiding mixing carbohydrates with acids; this also means that pasta with red sauce is not a good idea especially on an empty stomach. Have pasta with pesto, pizza with grilled veggies or even samosa with spinach instead.
The magic ingredients: A tip in aiding an upset stomach and making sure you never feel the pain of being bloated is using rosemary, turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom in your meals or post iftar teas.
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