Posted on June 18, 2018

Ms. Leyan Emad Al Akhal, Assistant Clinical Dietitian in Bariatric and the Metabolic Surgery Department at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), says one of the easiest ways to avoid holiday weight gain is to start the day with a healthy breakfast.

Many of the foods traditionally eaten during Eid Al Fitr are high in fat, salt, and sugar. The combination of these foods and invitations to attend numerous feasts and celebrations can cause many people to overindulge. Ms. Al Akhal recommends exercising restraint and eating slowly, allowing the body to recognize when you’ve had enough.

“Sudden overeating can lead to a number of medical and health problems, including abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea,” said Ms. Al Akhal. In addition to starting the day with a good breakfast, she recommends staying hydrated by drinking water. Men need around 3.7 liters of fluid per day to remain hydrated, while women need around 2.7 liters per day; this includes all beverages consumed and the moisture content in foods eaten. Ms. Al Akhal says drinking water before eating is a good strategy to help you feel fuller and decrease your food intake. She also says it is important to thoroughly chew food and to control portion size.

As part of re-adjusting to a normal eating pattern, Ms. Al Akhal recommends consuming smaller portions and eating more frequently. She says for most people, eating three meals, and three snacks each day that contain a healthy balance of carbohydrates, fats, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and proteins work well. “Focus on making healthy food and beverage choices, with foods from all five food groups. This will help you get the nutrients you need. Select whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and legumes and eat smaller portions throughout the day. Eid is an occasion to celebrate and enjoy a variety of dishes. Eating in moderation is ideal for both preventing weight gain and remaining healthy,” says Ms. Al Akhal.

She suggests limiting the consumption of sodas, sugar-sweetened beverages, and highly processed carbohydrates such as chocolate, cakes, jams, and biscuits and recommends opting for fresh or dried fruits for dessert, which can help satisfy sugar cravings. She also warns against the risks of overdoing it during celebrations and other gatherings. She says overconsumption of sweets, carbohydrates, and fatty foods, as well as foods that are high in salt and caffeine, can be dangerous, particularly for individuals with pre-existing health conditions like diabetes and hypertension.

Ms. Al Akhal recommends engaging in regular exercise, saying it is the most effective way to maintain or lose body weight. To improve cardiovascular health and promote weight loss, 150 minutes of moderate activity each week is recommended. Ms. Al Akhal says it is necessary to gradually increase the intensity and length of fitness activities and she notes that the ability to safely tolerate exercise differs from person to another. She also warns against the risk of extreme dieting as a strategy for weight loss, saying it is important to make changes gradually, ideally having three meals and three snacks each day.

The Ministry of Public Health, HMC, and Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) have partnered again this year to re-launch the Ramadan Health website and have expanded the initiative by introducing a companion smartphone and tablet app. Introduced two years ago, the Ramadan Health website is Qatar's first online resource devoted to health and wellness during the Holy Month. Visit the Ramadan Health website at www.hamad.qa/ramadanhealth, or download the app to your phone or tablet by searching for ‘Qatar Health’ (available for iOS and Android operating systems).

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