Posted on August 13, 2018

Mr. Ra’ed Alalaween, Senior Clinical Dietician at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) says moderation and a little extra planning are the keys to a safe and healthy Eid Al Adha, especially for individuals with chronic medical conditions.

Many of the foods traditionally eaten during Eid celebrations are high in fat, salt, and sugar. Mr. Alalaween says overconsuming sweets and other highly-processed carbohydrates can be dangerous, particularly for individuals with pre-existing health conditions like diabetes and hypertension. He says these highly-palatable foodsare easy to overconsume and can wreak havoc on the body’s digestive system,leading to vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and stomach pain, as well as unintentional weight gain.

“Many of the foods traditionally eaten during Eid feasts are high in fat, salt, and sugar. It is a time of year when families eat a range of delicious foods that are not normally consumed throughout the year and this can lead to overindulgence. It is therefore important to focus on being healthy and exercise discipline and self-control when eating,” said Mr. Alalaween. He says that while weight gain, indigestion, heartburn, and abdominal bloating are the usual discomforts associated with overeating in a person of general good health, overindulging can have serious consequences for those with existing health problems.

HMC dietitian says moderation [].jpg“Overeating during Eid feasts is unfortunately very common. It can be challenging to say no to a gracious host; however, consuming large quantities of food and drink can have serious consequences for individuals who have chronic conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes,” said Mr. Alalaween. For those who are following a special diet, Mr. Alalaween recommends bringing your own food when invited to a gathering. He says most hosts will appreciate an additional dish at their party. He notes that many traditional dishes can be prepared in a healthier way, with lower fat and calories, but with the same delicious flavor.

“Simple alterations to popular recipes, for example using less ghee or replacing margarine with olive oil or milk with low-fat milk, can make a big difference in terms of the amount of fat and calories without negatively impacting the flavor. Similarly, honey and molasses are natural sweeteners and are a healthy and tasty alternative to the refined sugarin many popular dessert recipes. Many chicken recipes can be made healthier by removing the skin and the saturated fat in meat dishes can be reduced byblotting the meat with a paper towel to remove any remaining grease and fat,” said Mr. Alalaween.

He says that while Eid is an occasion to celebrate and enjoy a variety of dishes, moderation should always be the goal. He recommends limiting consumption of soda, sugary beverages, and highly processed carbohydrates such as chocolate, cakes, jams, and biscuits. He says this recommendation is particularly important for individualswith a chronic medical condition.

“Diet plays an important role in staying healthy, especially for people with diabetes. Blood sugar levels are better regulated when a regular meal schedule is maintained. Five to six small meals and two to three snacks a day,rather than three large meals,can help to keep portion size and sugar levels in check. High-carbohydrate foods, such as grains, cereals, pasta, rice, and foods high in natural sugar like dates are not forbidden, but they should be eaten in moderation. Regular exercise is also important for individuals with diabetes as it helps keep glucose levels under control,” said Mr. Alalaween.

He says eating in moderation is also essential for individuals with a heart condition. He notes that large meals can adversely affect the heart as eating and digesting large quantities of food increasesthe heart rate and blood pressure, creating an extra burden on the heart. He recommends individuals with a history of heart disease eat small portions during meals and avoid fatty, salty, and sugary foods. He alsorecommends reducing the consumption of tea, coffee, and other caffeinated beverages.

For individuals with peptic ulcers, Mr. Alalaween says careful planning is required. He says while no single food causes ulcers, spicy food, citrus fruits, and foods high in fat, might make symptoms worse in some people. He recommends being mindful of food choices, eating several small meals a day, taking medication as directed, and maintaining a well-balanced diet.