Stomach cramps. Increased unpleasant visits to the bathroom. Large bloated pregnant-like stomach. Sound familiar? This is what most Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) sufferers experience, and at heightened levels during Ramadan. Such symptoms can be very irritating, especially when the IBS sufferer is over someone’s house for Iftar (breakfast at sunset).
Should I not fast? Should I not eat that tasty bowl of Maklooba? What am I supposed to eat for Iftar? These are just some of the many questions that come to the minds of those who are fasting and are diagnosed with IBS.
So what’s the solution? Before diving into that plate of Maklooba, you need to really think about choosing what to eat and how to eat it. Luckily, IBS symptoms are manageable. Here are 7 tips IBS sufferers should consider during Iftar this Ramadan:
- Don’t drink cold water: As tempting as it may be to pick up that cold cup of water after a long hot day of fasting, don’t do it. Cold water, especially in large amounts, can trigger IBS symptoms. Instead drink 1-2 glasses of lukewarm water when you break your fast.
- Break your fast with 1-3 dates: When breaking your fast, dates are the best choice to do so with, as it as beneficial to your health, IBS-friendly and is a recommended practice in Islam by Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). (Remember, in Islam, it’s recommended to eat them in odd numbers.)
- Take probiotics twice a day: Probiotics are IBS sufferers’ best friend. You can find it in yogurt or in capsule form at your nearest drugstore. If you chose to buy the capsule form of probiotics, take one at Iftar and one at Suhur (pre-dawn meal) . (Make sure to tell your doctor, if you decide to take probiotics.)
- Avoid all ‘trigger foods’ that normally cause you pain: You have probably come to learn what foods flare up your IBS symptoms, whether it’s red meat, cauliflower, milk, caffeine and/or spicy food. Continue to avoid such ‘trigger foods’ during Ramadan. This is essential, especially when fasting, because your stomach tends to be very sensitive during this holy month.
- Don’t eat a big meal at Iftar: We know it’s easier said than done. But really, is your mother’s tasty dish worth all that agony? We aren’t saying to go cold turkey on your mom’s cooking, now that would be crazy! But instead of eating 1-2 giant plates of her food, eat half a plate. Even better, start with soup and then please your taste buds with something light and IBS-friendly.
- A half an hour after Iftar drink an Herbal drink: Peppermint, Ginger, Anise or Fennel tea all help. They all calm the stomach and reduce cramps and gas. After just one cup of tea, you can actually see your bloated stomach reduce in size.
- Go out for a power walk: After Iftar is done, the kitchen is clean, and your guests have left, it’s time to go for a 30-minute walk. Walking gets your metabolism well-running and reduces stress, which is also an IBS symptom trigger.
- Learn how to say no to extra scoops of food: When the person hosting the Iftar picks up that large serving spoon carrying an extra scoop of rice to put it right on your plate, learn how to decline even if he/she insists! You may think at first, no I can’t do that, it’s ‘3ayb’ (within this context it’s Arabic for an inconsiderate/unacceptable act). We acknowledge that Arabs are known for being hospitable towards their guests, and love to stuff their guests’ bellies during Ramadan. But it’s not 3ayb, especially when it comes to doing what is right for your health.
We understand not all of you face the same symptoms, and its degree varies from one person to another. Moreover, we know the symptoms you normally experience tend to change during Ramadan. Therefore, you may benefit from all, some, or even none of the tips we have provided. At the end, you are the master of your body and know what works and doesn’t work for you.
Let us know what reduces your bloating and cramps during Ramadan. We hope your stomachs have a happy Ramadan!
Don’t forget to share and smile 🙂 !