Ease into normal diet after the holy month of Ramadan
Dietitians say the transition to normal eating, drinking and sleeping routine should be done mindfully and in a balanced manner.
With the holy month of Ramadan getting over, it's time to reset our eating routines and food habits. After an intense 30-day period of abstaining from food and drink for 15 hours, dietitians say the transition to normal eating, drinking and sleeping routine should be done mindfully and in a balanced manner.
"Since our metabolic process undergoes a change because of the difference in eating schedules and timings, it is essential to ensure that you make a smooth transition from fasting into a regular dietary routine," cautioned Lama Sinjer, dietician at Prime Hospital.
"People who had their two meals in Ramadan - Suhoor and Iftar - will be able to make an easy transition in terms of metabolic rate and maintaining body weight. This is because those who skipped Suhoor and had just Iftar may now have issues with their metabolism since their body was used to only one meal a day. If they shift to three or four meals a day, they may have digestion issues and also may gain weight," she said.
The best option to make a smooth transition into a normal eating routine, Sinjer suggested, would be to stay hydrated and for the body to adapt, focus on a healthy diet that includes all food groups - carbohydrates, fats and proteins, fruits and vegetables and healthy grains.
"On the day of Eid, you can have one big meal, maybe like a family lunch, but eat in moderation. Try not to go overboard with eating sweets. Avoid too much variety, just eat one or two main dishes and avoid soft drinks and juices, rather focus on water," she said, reminding people to eat more mindfully.
Talking about the common mistakes people make after Ramadan, Ruba ElHourani, head dietitian at RAK Hospital, said: "Many people make the mistake of bringing a sudden shift in their eating habits soon after Ramadan, leading to digestive issues, weight gain, etc. We need to be very vigilant of our calorie intake when reverting to normal eating routine. Always remember that when we were fasting, our bodies have reduced the ability to consume larger amounts of food and high calories and the metabolism has been adjusted accordingly.
"Apart from overeating, a common mistake is the consumption of large doses of caffeine that can lead to serious health concerns such as dehydration," she added.
In order to prevent putting on weight, ElHourani advised people to introduce foods gradually into the diet by adding a snack or a small meal in the beginning and adjusting it to become three main meals eventually.
Six dos and don'ts to remember
> Beat the cravings for sweet with fresh and dried fruits like dates, figs and raisins
> Stay active by boosting metabolism through physical activity. Find time for exercise to avoid gaining weight and or putting back the weight that has been lost.
> Have the right combination of food to get as much benefit as possible. Balance your meals by combining foods from a variety of food groups
> Eat a lot of vegetables, fruits and choose healthier food over the saturated and trans fatty acid variety.
> Gradually return to normal eating habits by adding a meal or snack at a time to avoid putting a load on the stomach.
> Try to balance the meal using healthy cooking methods and alternating simple sugar with complex sugar that can fuel up the body for a longer time without impacting the blood sugar and calories consumed.
> Consumption of high sugary and fatty meals should be restricted to the first day of Eid. Disturbing the stomach may lead to other health consequences.
> Consuming processed food rather than fresh healthy food varieties can also increase the chances of health comorbidities
> Avoid caffeine intake to prevent dehydration and convert to herbal drinks or decaf coffee.
> Do not burden the stomach with huge amounts of food; instead, eat small amounts more frequently.
> Avoid over consumption of saturated and trans-fatty acids such as fried food items and substitute them with healthy fats like raw nuts and avocados.
> Refrain from eating late at night as it burdens the stomach and take a longer time to digest
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