Clinical Dietetics Coordinator at The Cuban Hospital of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Charina Daniel, says that eating in moderation during Iftar and avoiding overindulging during Suhour will help prevent weight gain during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

She said that fasting during Ramadan can cause weight gain in some people, so regulating food intake is an important part of maintaining weight during the Holy Month.

Part of the benefit of fasting is taking steps to develop a healthier lifestyle. Lack of moderation in food intake and over-indulgence in sweet foods will contradict the purpose of the fast. If fasting is done responsibly, it can benefit our health. Reduced food intake is one of the most effective ways to improve health and longevity. Fasting during Ramadan allows our body to use stored fats and glycogen, thereby promoting ideal weight and body fat loss.’

When planning for Iftar, she recommends starting with a light meal such as a couple of dates, laban or a hot soup. Plan your Iftar meal around healthy options such as whole grain starches, brown rice or potatoes, brown pasta, lean meat, fish or poultry, and raw or cooked vegetables. She suggests fruit for desert.

As soon as you break your fast, concentrate on getting rehydrated by drinking plenty of water. This will help prevent overeating. Drink at least eight glasses of water in small quantities to avoid bloating. Water plays an important role in weight loss and maintenance because it helps to get rid of toxins and reduces hunger.

She suggests eating dishes prepared by baking, grilling, steaming or stewing and avoiding foods that are deep fried. She said that high-calorie foods such as rich pastries and sweet desserts should be eaten in small portions. She also recommends chewing food slowly to avoid indigestion and starting meals with soup and a salad.

Daniel noted that during Ramadan, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. She advised against overeating when having Suhour, and resisting trying to make up for the food that will be missed during the day while fasting. She recommended a meal that includes a healthy portion of protein, such as eggs with oatmeal.

When thinking about the Suhour menu, consider complex carbohydrates such as brown or whole wheat bread and lean protein sources such as eggs, grilled chicken breast or low-fat dairy products, dried beans and lentils. Try adding a serving of low fat or skimmed dairy products such as yogurt, laban or milk. A cup of fresh vegetables or fruit will make the meal healthier and more nutritious.’

Most of all, the key to avoiding weight gain during Ramadan is moderation. You can always seek help from your dietitian if you wish to get a more individually tailored meal plan.’

The Ministry of Public Health, HMC and the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) have partnered again this year to provide the public with information about common health issues through their Ramadan Health website. Introduced last year, the website is Qatar’s first online resource devoted to health and wellness during this Holy Month.

Check this link for more information about health and wellness during Ramadan.