One of the easiest ways to avoid holiday weight gain is to start the day with a healthy breakfast, an expert from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has suggested.
"Many of the foods traditionally eaten during Eid al-Fitr are high in fat, salt, and sugar," pointed out Leyan Emad al-Akhal, assistant clinical dietitian, Bariatric and the Metabolic Surgery Department.
She recommends exercising restraint and eating slowly, allowing the body to recognise when you’ve had enough.
“Sudden overeating can lead to a number of medical and health problems, including abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea,” said al-Akhal.
In addition to starting the day with a good breakfast, she 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.
The assistant clinical dietitian says drinking water before eating is a good strategy to help you feel fuller and decrease your food intake. She also says it is important 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 says for most people, eating three meals, and three snacks each day that contain 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 both preventing weight gain and remaining healthy,” says al-Akhal.
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.
Al-Akhal also warns against the risks of overdoing it during celebrations and other gatherings. She says excessive 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.