Chronic Disease

Fasting Tips For People With Gastric Or GERD

Muslims who suffer from gastric or GERD have many worries whenever the fasting month arrives, as it requires them to juggle between their health and their religious obligations.

During fasting, cases of an upset stomach occur not only for those with gastritis, but even to those without; and this is all due to our eating habits. Making some adjustments to your mealtime and food choices can help you avoid an upset stomach. 

Here are several tips for people with gastric or GERD to reduce their risk of complications while fasting:

1. Avoid common triggers

  • Fasting increases gastric acidity levels. It is important to vary your food intake and be sure to include enough essential nutrients needed for your body in your meals- carbohydrates, proteins, fats vitamins, and fibre.

  • A few common triggers we should try to avoid are processed, fatty, deep-fried, spicy, sour, salty, caffeinated, and acid-containing foods. This is because these types of foods tend to irritate the digestive tract. Remember that moderation is key, and that triggers are different for each person.

  • Try to reduce your sugar intake too as sugar turns into fat, which can cause an increase in weight gain and cholesterol levels. It can also slow down digestion and trigger acid reflux.

2. Eat slowly and mindfully

  • Chew slowly and thoroughly when eating so less gastric juices are needed to digest your food. This will make it easier on your stomach, as well as ensures that you take your time and eat less. Don’t forget it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain when you are full.

  • Eating fast also tends to cause you to swallow air when eating which causes bloating.

  • Putting smaller and moderate portions on your plate is a good idea to limit your food intake especially when breaking fast.

  • We recommend eating dates and light food during Iftar before maghrib prayers, and having your main meal after the prayer itself.

3. Avoid skipping suhoor

  • Your body needs food to give you lasting energy throughout the day, preferably in the form of complex carbohydrates and fibre. However, if you don’t have an appetite, we suggest simply eating dates and drinking milk or water. Dates are rich in antioxidants and dietary fibres, and are found to be effective in preventing gastric ulcers.

  • Avoid sleeping after suhoor to prevent indigestion and heartburn. Laying down straight after eating could cause stomach acid to enter the oesophagus and trigger acid reflux.

4. Drink enough water

  • A minimum of 8 glasses per day is vital even when fasting. Drink plenty of water during suhoor and iftar. Drinking water before bedtime allows your body to adjust fluid levels for the next day.

  • Remember to drink while seated up in a proper position and never drink while laying down or slouching.

5. Continue taking medications

  • For those who are on long term medication - Be sure to discuss with your doctor about your medication plans during Ramadhan.

  • Continue taking over-the-counter medications like antacids, antihistamines and proton pump inhibitors during suhoor if needed. These can reduce stomach acid production which prevents bloating, gastric, and heartburn.

  • If the pain is unbearable, break your fast, and take the necessary medication - remember, taking care of your health is still an obligation, and Islam does not force fasting upon those who are unable to do so.

Written by:
15 April 2022