Fatma Souikey, Clinical Dietitian Supervisor at Hamad General Hospital, has urged parents of children observing Ramadan fasts to watch out for “signs of distress”.
According to Souikey, children are more likely to experience dehydration and may also have low blood sugar levels while fasting. Still, Souikey says that fasting is generally safe for children who want to try it during this month, despite not being a religious obligation for them until puberty.
Some of Souikey’s tips for safe and healthy fasts for kids are as follows:
- Parents should delay the suhoor (pre-dawn) meal for children fasting for the first time for as long as possible.
- Parents of younger children can encourage shorter fasts and gradually allow them to fast more hours until they can last the whole day.
- Keep suhoor and iftar meals nutrient-dense. Suhoor should be filled with slow energy-releasing, fibre-rich foods like wholegrain cereals, fruits, and vegetables.
- Children should be encouraged to drink plenty of water and limit coffee, tea, and soft drinks to stay hydrated.
- Parents should keep an eye on kids’ activity levels to prevent dehydration, particularly during hotter days.
- Children should eat enough when they’re not fasting while also being encouraged to eat slowly, enjoy their food, and not over-fill their stomachs. This helps prevent stomach aches, bloating, and indigestion.
- Children should also get adequate sleep throughout the month.
As always, if your children have a medical condition or particular health concerns, contact a medical professional for personalised advice. Have a blessed, happy, and healthy Ramadan!