Ramadan 2021: Don't shop while fasting, urge UAE experts

KT Photo: M Sajjad
KT Photo: M Sajjad

Dubai - The advisory is timely, as a large number of UAE residents are currently observing the holy month of Ramadan.

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By SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Mon 19 Apr 2021, 12:55 PM

Last updated: Mon 19 Apr 2021, 12:58 PM

Making purchasing decisions while hungry can end up in an expensive shopping spree.

That was the gist of a tweet by Dubai Economy on Sunday, which recommended that residents avoid making such calls while fasting or before Iftar.

The advisory is timely, as a large number of UAE residents are currently observing the holy month of Ramadan, during which they fast from dawn to dusk. And experts in the UAE concur.

Dana Al Shakaa, dietitian at Al Zahra Hospital, explains the correlation between a hungry stomach and shopping decisions. “Hunger amps up our desire to acquire things. Studies have shown that hungry shoppers spend more money than others and end up buying more than they need — from food to non-edible items.”

Even when it comes to grocery shopping on an empty stomach, nutritionists believe hunger influences food choices to a great extent and may put one in a nutritional dilemma.

“When you go grocery shopping while hungry, almost everything looks good. Science says hungry shoppers find high-calorie foods more tempting and tend to make more unhealthy choices; therefore, it is important to avoid grocery shopping with an empty stomach or right before meals,” she said.


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Nafeesa Ahmed, senior director at Zulekha Hospital, echoed the sentiment. “Grocery shopping whilst hungry has been found to lead to impulsive food decisions, with preferences for food items which are higher in calories fat and sugar,” she stated.

Lama Tabasha, clinical dietician at Burjeel Hospital, explains: “Our body demands food for energy and hunger signals bring in more cravings. Very rarely will you then grab a fruit or choose salads or other low-calorie foods. Shopping while hungry will increase your willingness to pay for food items that are not really required by you.”

Best time to shop during Ramadan

Research suggests that shopping 2-3 hours after breaking fast is considered a good timing. One can get good rest after the meal and still feel full enough to avoid buying food that is not required.

Nutritionists further advised having a meal plan and sticking to your shopping list. Having a well-planned grocery list facilitates early checkout from the store and helps you stick to your healthy eating plan.

Learning to read nutritional labels will also help, said Lama Tabasha. “Nutritional fact labels will help you make healthy food choices. Have a quick check on the serving size, calories, percentage of daily value (5% or less is low, 20% or more is high), trans fat, saturated fat and added sugar."

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