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Maintaining adequate nutrition is difficult for all mothers when they are pregnant or breastfeeding, but especially so for Muslim moms who may be fasting during the month of Ramadan. Fasting during the holy month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. During this month, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to sundown. There are clear exemptions in Islam from fasting in Ramadan during sickness, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. Yet, some Muslim women still elect to fast during these stages of life. So, it is important for WIC Dietitians to provide appropriate nutritional advice to Muslim women during fasting. Washtenaw County's WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program serves a significant population of Muslims, so putting a focus on Ramadan nutrition for these mothers is an important step towards protecting their and their children’s health. To inform these mothers of how and what to eat during this month, we created a nutrition education flyer based on multicultural best practices and research-driven information about nutrition tips during fasting. This flyer was made available in English and Arabic and will be a guideline or a reminder to make healthy choices for the sunrise and sunset meals, especially with nutrient dense foods, and healthy carbohydrates and proteins. Keeping health equity and social justice in mind, Washtenaw County WIC hosted a drive-thru Ramadan celebration during the first week and the third week of the holy month. During these celebrations, we handed out gift bags that included nutrition information flyers, packages of dates, reusable water bottles, breast pads to pregnant and breastfeeding women. Backpacks with “My Plate Preschool Portion Meal Plate, Cup and Silverware” were given to children. Additionally, yard signs were posted along the Health Department Campus, wishing “Ramadan Mubarak” and “Ramadan Kareem” in Arabic and “Happy Ramadan” and “Welcome to the Holy Month of Ramadan” in English.
We hope that these events help in cultivating healthy nutritional habits for all Muslim mothers, while being conscious of religious and cultural practices. It is often difficult to find the right nutrition dense foods before and after fasting all day, so this flyer recommends a smoothie with many micronutrients and proteins for Suhur, to start their day, and the healthy plate model for Iftar and other snacks throughout the night, utilizing WIC foods. Through these recommendations, families can stay healthy to provide for their children, while also adhering to their Ramadan religious practices.
Written by: Anjani Raja; UM Student/Washtenaw County WIC Intern
Thank you to all the team members who made these Ramadan drive-thru celebrations successful, including Duaa Cannon (WIC Service Coordinator), Lena Sakallah (WIC Registered Dietitian), Anjani Raja (UM Intern), and Erica McLeod (Breastfeeding Peer Counselor).