Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is urging residents of Qatar to avoid over-eating during the holy month of Ramadan.

Senior Consultant of Emergency Medicine, Dr Saad Abdul Fattah Al Nuaimi, stressed that consuming large quantities of food or an unbalanced diet for Iftar can lead to stomach upset and intestinal disorders that may worsen other existing health conditions. He said:

People can experience health problems in Ramadan due to eating beyond the level of fullness at the time of breaking their fast. As a result, we see an influx of patients with gastrointestinal ailments at Hamad General Hospital’s (HGH) Emergency Department. If people don’t maintain moderate food intake and overindulge, this contradicts the purpose of the fast. It can also lead to weight gain and obesity with its complications, such as diabetes mellitus and heart disease. Part of the benefits of fasting is to help us develop a healthier lifestyle, in addition to reinforce community relationships and enhance compassion and charity.’

Dr Al Nuaimi highlighted that one of the most common ailments observed due to overeating in Ramadan is abdominal pain. He said:

This happens when people eat very quickly immediately after the Maghrib adhan (call to prayer) is given. A large amount of carbohydrates in meals makes people bloated and this is what most frequently results in stomach pains. The best way to prevent any such illness is to plan the Iftar meal in advance and make sure that it is light, coupled with fluids to keep you hydrated and energised.’

Other recommendations to aviod preventable ill-health during Ramadan, as advised by Dr Al Nuaimi, include:

  • Do not skip Suhoor (pre-dawn meal) as this will increase the length of your fast, which is not advisable in this hot season and may result in dehydration and fatigue.
  • Drink as much water as possible between Iftar and sleeping time.
  • Avoid salty foods during Iftar and Suhoor meals.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks such as coke, coffee or tea.
  • Try not to consume heavy fatty foods, which often cause gastrointestinal disturbances (when using oil in food preparation, use only a small amount of olive oil or other polyunsaturated fats)
  • Also avoid refined carbohydrates and sugar (e.g. white bread, white rice, sweets and pastries) which can cause blood sugar surges, leading to weight gain
  • For Suhoor meal, it is advisable to eat proteins, oils, complex carbohydrates such as beans, and drink half a cup of fresh juice or eat half a piece of fruit.
  • Break your fast by your Iftar meal with a simple, easily digestible food such as three pieces of dates, half cup of orange juice or one cup of vegetable soup. These help your glucose level return to normal and help you control your appetite during the main meal.
  • Store food items properly in the refrigerator or as directed on the food label.

HMC is encouraging the public to view Ramadan and Eid break as an opportunity to develop healthy eating habits and commit to healthier lifestyle choices.

HMC has been the principal public healthcare provider in the state of Qatar for over three decades. HMC manages eight hospitals, incorporating five specialist hospitals and three community hospitals.  HMC also manages the National Ambulance Service as well as home and residential care, all accredited by Joint Commission International. HMC is leading the development of the region’s first academic health system and is committed to building a legacy of healthcare expertise in Qatar. HMC collaborates with partners who are key experts in Qatar and beyond, including Weill Cornell Medical College-Qatar, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and Partners Healthcare, Boston.