Patients who have undergone obesity or bariatric surgery need to take special measures if they choose to fast during the Holy Month of Ramadan, according to an expert at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).
“Proper nutrition is important for the long-term success and effectiveness of bariatric surgery, said Ms. Sahar Al Shammari, Therapeutic Dietitian at the Department of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery at HMC.
“Lack of attention to the nutritional value of food, supplements, protein intake or vitamins prescribed by a doctor can cause malnutrition. This can lead to a deterioration of body tissue, emaciation and a loss of energy.”
Patients are advised not to fast for six months after bariatric surgery to avoid any health risks. “The body’s ability to endure fasting also varies for different individuals,” said Ms. Al Shammari. “Post-bariatric surgery patients’ food intake during Ramadan should not differ from their usual food intake in terms of quantity and quality. The difference is limited to a change in meal timings and the arrangement of food according to each individual patient’s condition.”
Ms. Al Shammari said bariatric surgery patients should eat low fat and low sugar meals and only use a moderate amount of salt. They should also avoid spicy food and those that are highly acidic like limes.
“It is very important for patients to eat their meals on a regular schedule,” she said. “Having meals on time plays a major role in the success of fasting and reduces the health risks associated with it. Patients should eat four to five meals from breakfast to Suhoor.”
Patients should consider the following timings for their meals during Ramadan:
• Breakfast (directly after the Adhan)
• The main meal (immediately after Maghrib prayer)
• Light meal (two hours after breakfast)
• Snack (Ghabgha time at 10pm or 11pm)
• Suhoor meal (shortly before Fajr prayer)
“The body’s ability to tolerate a certain dietary plan may vary for individual patients, but bariatric surgery patients should break their fast with water, dates or soup to prepare their body for the main meal, which they should eat after Maghreb prayer,” said Ms. Al Shammari.
“Eat slowly and chew well. This prevents excessive eating and acid reflux and also facilitates digestion. It is also important to focus on proper hydration during Ramadan, especially for patients who have undergone obesity surgery.
Ms. Al Shammari suggests not drinking too much water, juices or other fluids for breakfast, but to ensure enough fluid is being drunk between meals at least every hour, aiming to drink about two liters per day.
“Reduce stimulants such as tea and coffee, as they act as a diuretic resulting in the loss of a large amount of body fluids. This leads to increased thirst during fasting,” Ms. Al Shammari said. “Avoid soft drinks and sweetened juices because they contain high amounts of sugar, causing a surge in blood sugar levels.”
She also suggested patients are as active as possible and follow their physician’s advice, including:
- Avoid sleeping directly after eating as this can lead to health problems. It is also important to stop eating when feeling full to avoid acid reflux.
- Be committed to taking any nutritional supplements or vitamins prescribed by your physician.
- Continue sporting activities during Ramadan, but schedule them at appropriate times, preferably at least two hours after breakfast.