Posted on February 02, 2018

Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Department of Clinical Nutrition recently organized a workshop for nutritionists on the Qatar Dietary Guidelines. The Guidelines were introduced to provide the public with parameters for healthy eating and physical activity. Over 120 specialists from HMC attended the workshop, held 20 January at Bayt Al Dhiyafah.

Ms. Reem Al Saadi, Director of the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition at HMC, said the workshop was organized as part of the completion of the work plan to implement the Qatar Dietary Guidelines. The Guidelines were introduced by the Ministry of Public Health in 2015 and since their implementation the Ministry has held a number of training workshops for nutrition specialists from various hospitals in the country, including staff from HMC.

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Ms. Sahar Al Shammari, a Therapeutic Dietitian with HMC’s Department of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, presented during the workshop and reviewed the Guideline’s main recommendations, which include eating a diet with foods from the six food groups, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting the intake of sugar, salt, and fat, being physically active, drinking plenty of water, and adopting safe and clean food preparation methods. She also discussed the importance of breastfeeding for at least the first six months of a child’s life.

Mr. Ayman Alawneh, a Senior Clinical Dietitian with HMC’s Department of Dietetics and Nutrition was a panelist at the workshop and said the Guidelines have put a focus on the link between healthy eating and disease prevention. He said dietary choices play an important role in the prevention and management of non-communicable chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. He said the guidelines are useful because they provide members of the public with information on which foods should be eaten, which foods should be avoided, and which foods should be limited. They also provide other tips such as increasing one’s intake of legumes and other plant-based foods and eating fish twice a week.

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Ms. Hayam Al Hajjaji, a Dietitian at HMC’s Pediatrics Department, also stressed the importance of eating a diet rich in plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. She said that many research studies support eating a whole food, plant-based diet as a strategy to prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers. While meat and fish contribute to a healthy diet, she said moderation is key and mentioned the importance of making healthy choices such as selecting whole wheat bread and grains in place of white bread, white rice, and pasta made from white flour.

“The Qatar Dietary Guidelines were designed to provide adult members of the community with recommendations for healthy eating and physical activity. It is important to note that their advice is directed towards healthy individuals. Those requiring special diets or who have a medical condition may need to meet with a dietitian or other health professional for more guidance. Dietary intervention plays an important role in the prevention and management of non-communicable chronic diseases,” Ms. Reem Al Saadi added.