If you’ve gained weight because of all the feasting and family gatherings during this year’s Eid Al Fitr celebration, may be you should consider taking to heart the advice from Leyan Emad Al Akhal, Assistant Clinical Dietitian in Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery Department at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).

According to Al Akhal, 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 over indulge. Al Akhal recommends restraint and eating slowly, allowing the body to recognise when you’ve had enough.

Al Akhal said that over eating can lead to a number of medical and health problems, including abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

In addition to starting the day with a good breakfast, she also recommends staying hydrated by drinking water. Men need around 3.7 litres of fluid per day to remain hydrated, while women need around 2.7 litres per day; this includes all beverages consumed and the moisture content in foods eaten. Al Akhal said that drinking water before eating is a good strategy to help you feel fuller and decrease your food intake. She also said to ‘thoroughly chew food’ and to control portion size.

As part of re-adjusting to a normal eating pattern, Al Akhal recommends consuming smaller portions and eating more frequently. She said that for most people, eating three meals, and three snacks each day, both with 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 preventing weight gain and remaining healthy.’

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. Over-consumption 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.

Al Akhal recommends engaging in regular exercise, as 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. Al Akhal said that it’s necessary to gradually increase the intensity and length of fitness activities, noting that the ability to safely tolerate exercise differs from one person to another. She also warns against the risk of extreme dieting as a strategy for weight loss, emphasising the importance of making gradual changes.

Ramadan Health

The Ministry of Public Health, together with HMC and the Primary Health Care Corporation have partnered again this year to re-launch the Ramadan Health website, event expanding 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 through this link, or download the app to your phone or tablet by searching for ‘Qatar Health’ (available for iOS and Android operating systems).

Visit the HMC website for more information about related services this season.