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Opt for frequent, small meals post Ramadan

Avoid overindulging in deserts and fried foods to prevent gastric complaints, doctors say

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Coming out of the holy month, residents must opt for frequent, balanced meals in order to avoid indigestion and other gastric complaints, doctors have urged.

As it happens, the unhealthy overindulgence in desserts and calorie-laden foods during Ramadan and Eid leads to a significant upsurge in the number of residents reporting gastric discomfort post Eid.

“When the Ramadan-related restrictions on eating are lifted, most people tend to overcompensate by eating too much. And this is why we see so many patients complaining of diarrhoea, bloating and acid reflux,” Dr Yogesh Shastri, head of gastroenterology at NMC Speciality Hospital in Abu Dhabi, told Gulf News.

“Unfortunately, many people do not follow healthy eating habits on a regular day, and they go back to these unhealthy practices after Ramadan, making the problem worse,” added Dr Mutaz Khalifa, internal medicine specialist at Mediclinic Al Noor Hospital.

According to the doctors, the Ramadan routine, on its own, should not contribute to poor health. However, Dr Khalifa said most people have now come to treat the entirety of the holy month as an opportunity to feast.

“As a result, persistent concerns like diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolaemia are all worse among my patients when they see me after Ramadan,” he said.

To that end, the doctor advised that residents switch to eating small, frequent meals as they transition to a post-Ramadan routine.

“Eating one or two big meals is a major cause of central obesity, but most people ignore this risk. Instead of simply having a big meal, we advise people to have up to six small meals a day, including a big breakfast, a small snack at midday, a reasonable lunch no later than 2pm, dinner by 7pm or 8pm, and some fruits and nuts before bedtime,” Dr Khalifa recommended.

He also said that opting for high-fibre foods like vegetables and fruits, instead of satisfying hunger with carbs, will keep people feeling full for longer.

“A feeling of hunger prevents the body from burning fat, which is why frequent, small-sized meals are best,” the doctor said.

Dr Shastri also cautioned residents from giving in to sugar and caffeine cravings after Ramadan.

“Too much caffeine is dehydrating, and the body needs to hydrate after fasting for more than 15 hours a day. Moreover, a sudden increase in the amount of caffeine consumed can result in sleep disturbances,” he said.

“In addition, many people feel they have lost weight, and they don’t keep a check on the amount of calories they consume after Ramadan. In fact, most people do not lose weight at all, so they should avoid overcompensating when they eat,” he said.

Balanced meals, restricted portions are key

BREAKFAST

BREAKFASTHave a light breakfast such as fruit, nut and yoghurt smoothie with no added sugar. One can have coconut water in between meals. A mid-morning snack of one portion of a fruit would be fine. Fruit juices are an absolute ‘no no’ as they are loaded with sugar and have no fibre.

LUNCH

LUNCHLoad half your plate with salad full of raw garden-fresh greens, tomatoes and cucumber and have it first, followed by a sauteed vegetable dish and one portion of wholemeal bread/chapati.

 

AFTERNOON SNACK

AFTERNOON SNACKHave a fistful of nutsalmonds and cashews. Avoid fatty food, sweets and sugary juices. Remember the old saying, ‘Don’t let your eyes get bigger than your belly.’

 

 

DINNER

DINNERStart with a light clear lentil/vegetable soup. Then load a quarter of your dinner plate with salad, have it after soup. After this, have your main course which can be a meat stew or grilled fish, a sauteed vegetable and one portion of bread.

 

 

DESSERT

DESSERTUsually people indulge their sweet tooth during Eid but it is advised not to overload the system with too much sugar and restrict the portion size of dessert.
Green tea is a good finale to dinner.

 

SLEEP

SLEEPTry and get up early, have breakfast and then do not go back to sleep. One can do this by playing board games with family, involving in home chores so that by evening the body is tired and one can have an early dinner and retire to bed. It is important to avoid long siestas in the afternoon.

Tips to staying healthy after Ramadan

  • Transition to eating up to six small meals during the day, including a filling breakfast and an early dinner.
  • Avoid feeling hungry as this prevents the body from burning fat.
  • Opt for fibre-rich foods like vegetables, fruits and nuts so that you stay full for longer.
  • Avoid too many sugary treats, and reduce the craving for these by not staying hungry.
  • Drink enough water to stay hydrated. However, do not consume the fluids during a meal as this can dilute digestive juices and lead to indigestion.
  • Do not increase your caffeine intake suddenly to avoid sleep disturbances and dehydration.
  • Do not self-medicate if you face gastric complaints; instead, visit a doctor to get the right treatment.
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