Expert tips residents on healthy post-Ramadan lifestyle, Eid festivities

DUBAI: The end of Ramadan is fast approaching and with the Eid Al Fitr celebrations all set, a nutritionist from one of the leading fitness centres in the UAE has given tips on how to get by healthily through the resumption of regular meals and work timings.

Three of the tips are about the importance of drinking lots of water, the avoidance of caffeine and the necessary protein-rich in-take.

“Going back to pre-Ramadan habits might be a big shock for your body. A very common mistake people make during Eid is that they tend to eat more than they used to before the Holy Month,” said Banin Shahine.

With this, she gestured the thumbs down when asked if it is good or appropriate for those who fast to slowly and gradually lessen their food consumption in the remaining days of the season.

Her explanation: “The energy levels are already low during the last week (of Ramadan). Keep eating as you are or else you would become less productive and energy levels will lag.”

The Fitness Centre nutritionist who has been guiding clients for over five years pointed out that the best time to start re-orienting the body for the normal meals is on the first day of the Eid Al Fitr celebrations.

However, while it is best to start Eid Al Fitr with a healthy breakfast, “the amount of food and caloric in-take should stay less in the first few days.”

Shahine added: “Eat breakfast every day. It will help you control your food during the day, boost your energy and control your appetite.”

On water, she stressed that “water is food” and the body needs lots of it.

“Water will flush toxins out of your body, keep your skin fresh and help you eat less,” Shahine added, also saying that the beverage is the best tool against travel lag, junk food cravings and heat or sun stroke especially that it is already summer.

On the proteins and protein-rich diets, she repeated what Aster Hospital-Mankhool (Dubai) dietician Sushma Ghag had told The Gulf Today on Tuesday, saying: “Eating the right amount of complete proteins for your weight and activity level stabilises blood sugar preventing energy lags, enhances concentration, and keeps you lean and strong.”

According to Shahine, the complete sources of protein are “any animal and dairy product, grains plus legumes especially when you feel you need a good meal that supports your body and helps you feel fuller for a longer time.”

The other three tips are: eat small amounts frequently; indulge in protein; limit the Eid sweets.

Shahine suggested almonds, raw vegetables and hummus, yoghurt and berries, fresh and dried fruits and hard-boiled eggs to be eaten frequently and in small amounts, taking into consideration the resumption of the regular working hours and the surge of the busy or hectic lifestyle.

Relating these to the importance of reminding oneself about the ill effects of the over-indulgence of the sweets, she added: “Often, when you’re busy with your friends and family, you do not have access to food at regular intervals. Or worse, you tend to skip meals so you can have that sweet fatty traditional Eid sweets.”

Shahine warned that such habits would keep the body “in the starvation mood as it was during Ramadan,” leading to poor metabolism.

On the Eid sweets, these would increase the insulin levels, make one continually laggard and sleepy: “It can increase your body weight rapidly,” she said. “Go for the fresh and dried fruits instead.”

On eating small amounts frequently, Shahine explained that this sends a signal to the brain about the bountiful food supply and so “it is okay to burn through those calories quickly.

“Limiting your calorie load at a single sitting also gives you lots of energy. Eating too many calories in one meal, even if they were healthy calories,” messages the brain that “leaner times must be around the corner” resulting in those calories becoming fat.”

“Do not eat too much in one sitting as it will make you sluggish and sleepy,” Shahine said.

On becoming sleepy, sluggish and being on slack, she referred back to her advice of avoiding all forms of caffeine, because “these definitely shoot up stress as they also shoo away the valued sleeping and restful hours.”