A Narrative Review of Food Culture and Eating Behaviors among Mauritian Muslims during the Fasting Month of Ramadan: The Need for Nutrition Education

Document Type: Review Article

Authors

1 Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Mauritius

2 Groupe Nazroo de L’ocean Indien, SSR Street, Port-Louis, Mauritius.

Abstract

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and is called as Ramadhan or Ramzan. During this holy month, Muslims around the globe are devoted to the almighty by focusing on fasting, praying, and giving charity to the poor amongst all. As one of the five pillars of Islam, fasting is regarded as an obligatory deed for all able-bodied accountable Muslims. During Ramadan, this category of individuals spend daylight hours observing a complete fast by abstaining from all foods, drinks, medications, as well as smoking. In Mauritius, the duration of fasting varies according to the season coinciding with Ramadan, and ranges from 13 to 15 hours. In general, food intake is reduced during Ramadan. Normally, this should lead to reduced energy intake and weight loss depending on the food consumption pattern of the fasting individual. Nonetheless, eating behaviours are different during Ramadan month and following the daily fasting period, certain individuals indulge in consuming specific types of foods and drinks at breakfast (Iftaar). In Mauritius, it has long been a well-anchored culture to have fried cakes and milk beverages besides the recommended dates at ‘Iftaar’. It is, however, alarming to observe that there is a large tendency to replace dinner with ‘Iftaar. Considering the fact that the metabolism is reduced during the period of fasting, it is essential to maintain the optimal nutritional status and well-being in this holy month. This review focused on the patterns of food consumption and feasts in Ramadan month in Mauritius, and aimed to justify the need for nutrition education to improve food intake.

Keywords


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