Ramadan Eating Out at Iftar Parties/ Portion Sizes

Dear Readers,

If you suffer from an Eating Disorder then please seek immediate help from an appropriate mental health specialist or your health care provider.

Sometimes recovery seems impossible but don’t forget there are people out there who’ve recovered.If you’re here reading this post, then you do want to give up your eating disorder. You certainly can defeat this demon. If you don’t succeed try again. Don’t blame yourself, it’s one of the hardest things, you’ll ever have to do. Be determined.

One of the challenge people with Eating Disorders face during Ramadan is Iftar Time and eating out at Iftar Parties. I received a message from a sufferer last night who despite the instructions by her treatment team not to fast, went ahead and fasted. She faced many challenges throughout the day. Her resolution was to abstain from eating typical Asian foods at the Iftar and stick to a healthy diet.

“I binged at the Iftar, I just could not control my self, later I felt horrified and so ashamed of myself. I’ve decided to listen to my treatment team and not fast for rest of the month. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to fast.” (17 year old sufferer UK).

Feasting on special occasions has been around about as long as mankind. Ramadan is not about feasting and overeating. Sadly, we’ve come to a stage where Ramadan has become so much about feasting and throwing lavish Iftar parties.  Everybody wants to do their best and do as much as they can for Ramadan, from dates to drinks to appetizers, everything has to be best, for some this is a way to show love and appreciation for such a blessed month.

I have a reader from Hyderabad India, who suffers from Anorexia Nervosa.

“I  get so panicky around food, I feel I’m choking, I stand around the table simply staring at the food and I always end up purging my food, because I feel in my mind that I’ve eaten too much”.

She asked me if I could show her a demonstration of how I would make my plate at the Iftar party. I apologize this demonstration is a very poor one, but that’s the best I could do. I remember spending most of my Ramadan years abstaining from such gatherings. I found the abundance of food that was laid out before your eyes very overwhelming. I used to find the choice of selecting from array of starters, main courses, desserts and drinks absolutely frightening. I learned from NHS Eating Disorder Unit on how one should eat when attending a dinner party . The Key is to know your portion sizes and try to follow your meal plan. 

Also many many Emails on how to stop overeating during Ramadan.  I’ve added Katie Sheen’s Tip below on how to stop overeating and binging on Iftar foods. All you need to do is  update your perspective about what you want and Inshallah you can enjoy these moments of eating with loved ones without the Eating Disorder fears.

 It is absolutely possible to stay sober during Ramadan. It is possible to withstand the gluttony of food while also taking care of your body. I find the British portion sizes excellent source of guidance on how much to eat and in what quantity.


Try to enjoy these Ramadan parties without the fear of the demon of Eating Disorder, be realistic about what you really can or cannot eat. Don’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings if you don’t eat food they prepared. If the person insists you take some, put the food on your plate, but just a small taster.


According to The Religious Affairs DirectorateDiyanet Head Prof. Mehmet Görmez : “Ramadan itself is euphoria … But we should not be turning Ramadan into [something] entertaining or into a show … Ramadan meals should not be turned into wasted meals.” 

Drinks Drinks Drinks

With rising temperatures, believers are set to undergo a tough month of fasting, with officials strongly advising the consumption of a minimum of 2 to 2.5 liters of liquid during sahur and iftar

There are always selection of drinks from fruit juices to milk shakes to soft drinks to Rose Water Drinks. Always start off with water. You’ll often find Rose water drinks at such parties. This is excellent and really quenches your thirst.

Best Drink Rose Water at Iftar Parties

Best Drink Rose Water at Iftar Parties

I always add a shot of Wheatgrass synergy to mine.

With a Shot of Wheatgrass

With a Shot of Wheatgrass

I  find Katie Sheen’s Tip from Soul Nutrition Very Helpful- Always Include a serving of Salad or Fruit with whatever you eat. This prevents you from overeating and going for the seconds.


On Mindful Eating, Please read my mindful tips for Ramadan:



How to Chose your Starter?  So many Choices…

The Istanbul Public Health Service has announced that a healthy diet throughout Ramadan is a must, and people should avoid greasy, salty and heavy meals because warm weather can pose a health risk.  Only put on your plate modest portions of the foods you like the very best. For example, after adding a serving of salad to my plate, I select my starter. I always make one selection and if I like something else, then I’ll add another to my plate. I always always add a serving of Yogurt to my plate to aid digestion.

My Example:

One Samosa on my plate with salad and a serving of yogurt

One Samosa on my plate with salad and a serving of yogurt

Don’t forget to Add a serving of Salad to your Plate.

If you want to try different things, then 1/2 the portion sizes. I find that modest portions can be even more satisfying than large portions because you really get to enjoy and savor your food.

Presented with many choices. half your portion sizes. you can then enjoy bit of everything.

Presented with many choices. half your portion sizes. you can then enjoy bit of everything.

Eat Slowly- Eating quickly almost always leads to overeating because you have consumed the food before your stomach registers a feeling of fullness.

Main Course


This is overwhelming, as there will be many choices from rice dishes to array of breads to meat dishes to curries.

Those who fast through the day will have low blood sugar levels, which will make them want to eat too fast and too much. (Istanbul Public Health Sector)  Take control of the amount of food that ends up on your plate. Don’t taste or eat everything offered. Try to meet the dietary guidelines as best as you can. You’re eating for health and well-being. These kind of foods are no longer  precious rarities. You’ll have other opportunities to eat them but Ramadan is not the time for indulgence. Your digestive system won’t be able to handle such strain.


The recommended serving for vegetables is about one cup or the size of your fist. A single serving of meat is about 3 ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards. A single serving of cooked pasta is one cup or about the size of a tennis ball.



Always aim for a Balanced Plate


My Iftar Party plate- this is not a very good example, but the best I could come up with.

1 serving of salad, 1 serving of yogurt, 2 x serving of Rice with a piece of protein.

typical Serving Spoons at Asian Iftar. I take two. This is what we had at the ED Unit.

typical Serving Spoons at Asian Iftar. I take two. This is what we had at the ED Unit.


My Serving of Rice With a piece of Chicken

My Serving of Rice With a piece of Chicken

My Iftar Plate- 2 x serving of Rice with Salad and Yogurt

My Iftar Plate- 2 x serving of Rice with Salad and Yogurt

Ideally the plate method divides a dinner plate into one half non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, etc.) but these are never available at the Iftar party. You divide the other half between protein (lean meat or poultry, chicken, fish or meat substitutes) and starchy foods (rice, bread, pasta, potatoes, beans, corn, etc.)

When you eat what is on your plate, you are finished.


Dessert Dessert Dessert

Again always add a serving of fruit to your dessert, this will prevent the overeating and going for seconds. Preferably try to add some watermelons, or melons, 80grams. This really helps in digestion.

Don’t Make a Mistake of Having a Large Piece of Cake by itself
You can just have this cake by itself or

You can just have this cake by itself or

 Instead quarter it and have it with some fruit.
Mindful Dessert- Katie Sheen's Tip. Add a serving of Fruit.

Mindful Dessert- Katie Sheen’s Tip. Add a serving of Fruit.


Ideal Way to End your Meal Melons battikh- aids in digestion.

Watermelon can help improve sleep. By eating a few slices of this fruit after dinner can extend the deep stages of sleep by 27%

Prophet (s.a.w.s.): “Whenever you eat fruit, eat melon, because it is the fruit of Paradise and contains a thousand blessings and a thousand mercies. The eating of it cures every disease.”


Be sure to focus your energy on the purpose of the Ramadan and the togetherness of family and friends and praying. Food is  a source of nourishment and a blessing of Allah and should not be a prime focus of Ramadan. Try to Enjoy the beauty of Ramadan. Did you know that Muslims across Istanbul  rushed to Blue Mosque to perform Tarawih prayers on Saturday to welcome the holy month of Ramadan. Tarawih prayers, an extra prayer specific to Ramadan, according to the practices of Prophet Mohammed, performed by Muslims following the obligatory night prayer known as ‘Isha.

You too want to Enjoy your Tarawih Prayers without these Eating Disorder Fears. Keep your defenses up by boosting your health and your well-being.  Everything depends on it.

Please remember that anyone recovering from Eating Disorder or in recovery feels stressed. What you don’t need to do is to go back into the same old behaviors to relive the stress. Make sure you’ve changed your patterns, said goodbye to those ingrained eating disorder rituals, stay away from all the triggering bits and pieces you have, and taken on a new identity as you, the one no longer under the slavery of the demon of Eating Disorder. This Ramadan work with your loved ones to continue supporting the new, improved you.

Breathe deeply with a relief and Relax with a cup of Mint Tea or Green Tea. You Deserve it.