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We Challenged Ourselves To Cut Down On Sugar This Ramadan - Here's Our Experience


Faruq Senin •  May 01, 2021


Beyond the physical aspects of fasting, Ramadan is a good time of reflection for many Muslims and it is when we seek to be a better version of ourselves. During Ramadan, it is also an opportunity for us to practise good habits, such as keeping a healthy lifestyle and reducing the consumption of sugary beverages. This Ramadan, I challenged myself to cut down on sugar and here’s what it was like.
Being more mindful of what I consumed
Knowing that my goal was to reduce sugar, the challenge made me more conscious of what I consumed during iftar. The first few days of Ramadan are always a little more challenging for me, especially since my body is adjusting to fasting. This year was no different. On the first day of Ramadan, I felt really lethargic and all I could think about was to break fast with bubble tea ?
Usually, I would go for it but this time around, I held back. As I had my first iftar outside, I decided to try a new beverage, Green Tea with no sugar. It was my first time trying it and to my surprise, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. But truth be told, at the back of my mind, I was still thinking about something sweet. It didn’t help that the store opposite my dinner spot was selling glazed doughnuts ? As the days went by, it got easier to avoid sugary drinks and sweet treats. The less I thought about it, the less I craved sweet drinks. That’s when I realised that cutting down on sugar is not a difficult task. It starts with the right mindset and consciously thinking about what you consume.
Drinking plenty of water
The next significant change that I tried was to drink plenty of water for sahur and iftar. If I’m breaking fast at home, drinking water is not a problem as it is readily available. Usually, I would make 3-in-1 coffee for sahur but this year, I decided to switch to water as 3-in-1 coffee has proportionally high sugar content. The first few mornings without sweetened coffee was tough and I had headaches. But as I incorporated more plain water in my diet, I was able to start my day feeling refreshed as my body was properly hydrated.
The real challenge came when I had to break fast outside or with friends. Faced with so many beverage options, it’s easy to be tempted by sugary drinks. However, I requested for “kurang manis” (less sweet) options or avoided ordering drinks altogether. P.S. Wondering why you're not getting healthier during Ramadan even when you're fasting? Check out this article to find out!
What helped was that I always had a bottle of water with me so I could easily keep hydrated. It has become a habit for me to do that these days. Plus, by not ordering sugary drinks, you won’t be consuming empty calories - perfect for those of you who want to maintain a healthy weight! P.S. Check out these other ways to stay hydrated during Ramadan!
Credit: Korang OK? On Facebook#HHWT Tip: If you find it hard to adjust to water, try infusing your water with fruits instead like lemon and strawberries or spices such as cinnamon. They’re not just refreshing, but easy to prepare, without any added sugar.
Adopting a healthier diet during Ramadan
In a quest to cut down on sugar, it spurred me to adopt a healthier diet during Ramadan too. If I could opt for food that was lower in sugar, I would choose that option instead.
Thanks to the challenge, I found myself looking out for Healthier Choice Symbols more often when I was at a convenience store or going grocery shopping. It made me realise that there’s still plenty of yummy beverages with Healthier Choice Symbols which contain at least 25 per cent less sugar. So, it doesn’t mean that a healthy diet has to be bland.
Instead of usually having rice for sahur, I made it a point to prepare overnight oats as it’s a great way to keep myself hydrated. Plus, with fruits like bananas, apples and watermelon, it also provides the nutrients I need while fasting.
I also used My Healthy Plate to eat the right amounts for each meal. Instead of having a full plate of rice, I fill a quarter of my plate with mixed brown rice, a quarter with meat and others, and half the plate with fruit and vegetables. I broke fast with fruits like apples or bananas as they are low in sugar and contain the nutrients that replenished and rehydrated my body. By making slight changes to my diet, I could eat healthier and also felt better about myself. P.S. Planning to adopt a healthier lifestyle this Ramadan? Check out www.healthhub.sg/korangok for more tips on how to eat right and exercise.
Reducing sugar is a continuous journey
Ultimately, this challenge made me realise that cutting down on sugar in your diet is a continuous journey and it can’t be done overnight. It’s a long-term goal that should also be applied outside of Ramadan. If you’ve always had a goal to reduce your sugar intake but never got down to it, Ramadan is a great time to start! That’s because your meal times are the same every day and you can control what you consume better. If at the start, you find it hard to consume beverages with no sugar at all, then don’t beat yourself up about it. Start with reducing your sugar intake bit by bit and you’ll get there.
For me, I know this challenge won’t end with Ramadan. Consuming less sugar is important for me as my family has a history of diabetes and hence, I want to reduce my risk by leading a healthier lifestyle. It’s also a personal quest for me to lose weight. Besides consuming less sugar, I also try to lead a healthier lifestyle by going hiking whenever I can and exercising occasionally. A little goes a long way and what matters is that we make the effort to make healthier choices. #HHWT Tip: Find out more on how you can lead a healthier Ramadan from  www.healthhub.sg/korangok. Korang OK is a platform to encourage the Malay community to practise healthy eating habits such as reducing sugar intake and increasing physical activities through exercising. This article is brought to you by Health Promotion Board.