Ramadan healthy eating tips from registered dietitian – Sutton & Croydon Guardian

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“If there was a key message for communities during this month, it would be to reduce your salt intake,” she says. “This directly impacts blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.”  

“There is a direct link between cancer and a low-fibre diet, so eat foods high in fibre.” She recommends choosing wholegrain starchy carbohydrates, breaking fasts with dates, and consuming fruit salad as part of iftaar. 

Salma has 20 years of experience dealing with diverse communities and has worked with NHS England for their Diabetes Prevention Program and Diabetes UK, to develop culturally specific resources. Her book on World Foods is now used by healthcare professionals to educate underrepresented communities about diabetes through highlighting the carbohydrate and caloric content of a range of their staple foods. 

“During my first job, I saw a greater need to develop culturally specific diet resources. Most of the community I worked with didn’t speak English as a first language, so there was a lack of understanding on healthy eating and therefore a higher prevalence of type two diabetes, heart disease and obesity,” she explains.   

Having grown up in a South Asian household, she has wonderful memories with cultural food celebrations, but has seen her fair share of health issues.  

“I regularly took my mum to see doctors and dietitians regarding her diabetes and blood pressure,” she recalls. “I always had to interpret to dietitians what she was eating, so she struggled to implement changes to her diet.” 

“I wanted to become a dietitian so I could help my family and many more who needed more tailored advice according to their cultural backgrounds.”  

Before Ramadan 2024 arrived, Salma has been involved in several education sessions, including a multilingual My Way Diabetes Ramadan program with culturally specific content. 

“It was designed for both healthcare professionals and patients wanting to learn more about healthily managing diabetes during Ramadan, and how to continue these habits afterwards too.” 

She has several other tips on choosing healthier suhoor (pre-dawn meals) and iftars (post-sunset meals).  

“Families should opt for home-cooked food where possible and involve children from a young age. Getting them to prepare simple meals and snacks such as a fruit salad or a kibbeh,” she advises. “This will connect them to their traditions and create memories while making them feel more comfortable with natural foods.” 

“Changing cooking methods to reduce saturated fat intake can make a huge difference. I recommend baking or air frying more, when feasible,” she suggests.  

Salma has plenty more tips in her book Diet Guide for Ramadan: A Complete Guide to Healthy Eating during Ramadan, available now. 

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