Dubai: As millions observe the week-long celebrations for Eid Al Adha, it is important to remember not to binge on unhealthy foods and bust all health parameters, advise doctors and dietitians.

Rayan Saleh (right), clinical dietitian at the Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgeries, explained: “Eid Al Adha is a festival of sacrifice where sheep, goats, camels, bulls and cows are slaughtered by most Muslim families to observe the tradition. Quite naturally families that meet to celebrate the occasion have meat preparations for all meals. Lamb meat is very high in fat and combined with oil and spices it turns out to be heavy for our digestive tract.”

Dr Mohammad Al Jisheer (right), specialist, internal medicine at Aster Clinic, Fujairah explained: “During the week-long Eid Al Adha celebrations, families comes together and there are heavy meal banquets. Overeating of meat, oily foods, causes indigestion, gastritis and heart burns.”

According to optimal dietary requirements, not more than 10-20 per cent of an individual’s total calorie consumption must come from meat. Usually red meat is high in calories and doctors advise it to be eaten in moderation, not more than twice a week. High consumption leads to high uric acid and saturated fat all of which leads to serious issues such as high cholesterol, heart disease and kidney disease. However, during the week-long celebrations people tend to have many meat preparations through all main meals.

Dr Al Jisheer explained: “It takes 30 hours for meat items to be properly digested and assimilated into the body. So we need that kind of gap between two meals that has meat as the main ingredient. However, when we eat this in quick succession, we not only get indigestion, but the saturated fat gets deposited in our adipose tissues.”

Saleh added: “People tend to have heavy pastries with minced meat and chicken patties for breakfast, then for lunch it is either Machboos or biriyani followed by meat curries, kebabs and shawarma for dinner. Accompanied with these heavy meals are savouries and desserts that are totally unhealthy.”

Saleh advised that it was possible to enjoy Eid without busting all healthy rules by practising moderation and portion control. “During such elaborate celebrations it is important not to skip a single meal as remaining hungry for long makes people binge on food. One must have three main meal and two snacks through the day. Every meal must have a balance in protein, fat and carbohydrate content. Avoid processed and refined carbohydrates in meals, every meal must have fresh salads, include fresh fruits for snacks and avoid sugary desserts. In addition, do not skimp on you regular workout routine and exercise for an hour each day. Exercise could include light cardio and weights.”

What to eat during Eid

Saleh provides a sample food plan that gives an allowance for festive food without busting your health

Breakfast: Start your day with a nutritious breakfast that includes a good balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates. This could be a breakfast of eggs, labneh, and a vegetable salad with beans or a low fat milk and oats porridge with walnut and chia seeds, or a whole grain sandwich with vegetables, egg and low fat cheese.

For mid-morning snack: A cup of low fat yoghurt and a fruit

Lunch: Brown rice biryani or brown wholewheat pasta, a small portion of a lamb meat dish, accompanied with vegetables and salads with vinaigrette, lemon or other healthy dressings. Choose the meat preparation wisely and go for the grilled, broiled or baked options instead of fried or oily ones if you have a choice.

For dessert: opt for fresh fruits and dairy. Non-diabetics can drizzle that with honey and nuts

Dinner: Opt for a light dinner with more vegetables and a small portion of wholemeal bread, grilled piece of fish, chicken or meat kebab and salad. If possible avoid meat and rice altogether during dinner time and cut out the dessert.

If one has to have a dessert go for a slim portion of a mammool, baklava or cake, just about two bites. Important cheat code:

■  Keep yourself well hydrated throughout the day. Have at least 8 glasses of water. Sometimes we are more thirsty than hungry and compensate our thirst with food. Half an hour before a major meal have a glass of water.

■  For in between snacks, opt for dry fruits such as walnuts, pistachios or apricots that will curb your sweet cravings and help you cut out desserts.

■  Do not forget your routine workout. Exercise for at least an hour each day. Will help to take your mind off food besides burning calories.