Ramadan this year falls in the middle of summer. This means long fasting hours stretching to16-hour day!
Safe and Healthy Way for Children to Fast.
Generally, pre-pubescent children are not required to fast. However, many parents encourage these younger children to fast for a limited number of hours to get them accustomed to the ritual of fasting. Since they are new to this, it is essential to teach them the right way to do it. Fasting is not always easy on the little ones given that they are more active, and require more energy and fluids. Parents should assess the child’s ability to fast based on their general health, physical make-up, activity level and eating frequency. It is recommended that parents should also consult their child’s pediatrician.
– If children are fasting, let them be a part of this decision. Start getting them accustomed by eating less frequently during the day as Ramadan draws nearer. This helps their mind and body be in tune for the coming fasting period.
Children under ten should start fasting until noon and then increase the fasting time further into the month. Parents are advised to monitor the fasting child’s intake closely to make sure they are meeting their calorie and fluid requirements. A well-nourished child has the nutrient reserves required to sustain him during fasting hours. That is why a balanced and healthy diet is essential.
Sufficient Fluid Intake
Fluids can be in the form of soups, juices or plain water. Sip on water throughout the evening, aiming for 8 glasses by bedtime. Carbonated beverages should be avoided as they add calories void of nutrients. Some foods are known to be hydrating such as squash, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, spinach, broccoli, watermelon and cantaloupe.
Conserve Body Water
During the day, stay indoors or in the shade as much as possible and limit physical activity to prevent excess fluid loss from the body. Also limit tea and coffee consumption during the evening as they dehydrate your body.
One mistake a lot of parents make is to force children to overeat at sohouroriftar. Overeating will only cause indigestion, bloating and discomfort.
Have a Balanced Meal
- The most important thing is eating a variety of foods from all food groups, such as wholegrain, fruits, vegetables, dairy products (milk, yoghurt and cheese), protein (beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, nuts and legumes) and healthy fats.
- Pack more color into your child’s meals as these contain a variety of vitamins and minerals.
- Avoid processed and junk foods as they are almost void of nutrients needed after a long day of fasting.
- Avoid sweets, since they increase cravings and provide no nutrients for the calories.
- Limit salty food to avoid thirst.
- Avoid fried and fatty food as it can cause heartburn or indigestion
Schedule sleeping hours; enough rest is very important.
Engage your child in light exercise like walking or stretching exercises. The ideal time to exercise is in the evening after breaking the fast.
Finally, let your child know that the mental, emotional, moral, and spiritual benefits of fasting are much more important than abstinence from food and drink.