Doctors have therefore urged residents to be careful about what they eat and how much. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Eid Al Adha is a time for joy and celebration and indulging in a delicious meal is an inseparable part of the festivities. However, bingeing over multiple meals, especially on calorie-rich dishes and desserts, has often forced many people to rush to hospitals and clinics after the holidays.

Doctors have therefore urged residents to be careful about what they eat and how much.

“It is natural that people tend to indulge in food during festivities. But overeating poses several risks and most people later experience a variety of difficulties. In fact, high levels of sugar consumption and binge eating over the festive season may prove to be the tipping point for many chronic conditions, including pushing those with pre-diabetes to develop diabetes,” warned Dr Mustafa Saif, internal medicine specialist at Aster Hospital Mankhool.

'Have a guilt-free holiday'

Lama Saleem

“My advice is, always eat mindfully to have a guilt-free holiday! Moderation is the key. And I urge people to stick to eating guidelines even during the holiday season,” added Lama Saleem, clinical dietitian at Burjeel Hospital.

This year, Eid Al Adha will be celebrated in the UAE from Saturday, July 9, onwards. Because ritual sacrifice is an important part of the occasion, red meat is eaten widely during the Eid Al Adha festivities.

“From a medical perspective, however, it is prudent that we consume red meat mindfully to avoid other complications. Red meat is rich in fat and proteins. So, when there is an overconsumption of red meat in the diet, the digestive system gets overloaded. It takes the digestive system more time to digest meat-rich meals,” Dr Saif explained.

Gastritis becomes common

The problem is compounded as people overeat and as they treat themselves to one too many desserts. In fact, gastritis becomes one of the most common complaints at doctor’s chambers after the holidays.

“The overconsumption of spicy and greasy food is the major cause of this. Intake of high quantities of food rich in oil, sugar and refined flour leads to acid reflux, heartburn and even constipation. And people often eat a second meal even before digesting the first. This makes the stomach distended and leads to discomfort,” Dr Saif said.

Dr Mustafa Saif

“An increase in meat consumption can also lead to an increase in uric acid levels, leading to severe pain in joints, especially the feet. In addition, the oily snacks, curries and desserts also worsen hyperlipidemia and hypertension, which negatively affect heart health,” he added.

Who should be extra careful?

People with metabolic disorders such as high BMI, diabetes, hyperuricemia or hyperlipidemic conditions should therefore be extra careful during the festive season. In order to avoid falling ill during the festivities, it is best to eat carefully and to opt for healthier alternatives whenever possible.

“Serve fruit and dark chocolate rather than sweets that are high in sugar and saturated fats,” Saleem said. “We should separate the concept of fun and joy from food,” she advised.

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Tips on mindful eating:
— Always consume red meat in moderation.
— Whenever possible, opt for healthier dessert alternatives such as fruit and dark chocolates.
— Incorporate a good portion of fiber from fruit and vegetables in every meal, as well as lean protein. This will help you feel satiated and suppress sugar cravings. It will also help prevent constipation.
— Drink a lot of water to remain hydrated.
— Always avoid bingeing. Space out your meals and try not to eat unless you actually feel hungry.
— Avoid eating heavy meals at night or late in the evening.
— If you are especially fond of sweets, try to eat them during the daytime rather than at night.
— Limit your consumption of oily and sugary food as much as possible.
— Physical activity is always welcome, even during festive occasions, as it helps burn extra calories. So try to enjoy a game of football, badminton or any other sport with your loved ones, to stay fit.