Doha, 5 August, 2019: With Eid Al Adha around the corner, Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Ms. Reem Al Saadi, Director of Dietetics and Nutrition, is reminding residents about the importance of making healthy choices during the upcoming festive season. She is also urging residents to avoid overconsumption of sweets and other traditional foods, which she says should be viewed as a special treat and eaten in moderation.
“Many people overeat during Eid celebrations, particularly unhealthy food and drinks. This can lead to a spike in the number of patients seeking emergency treatment for gastric issues such as nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, and indigestion. It is important to make healthy food choices this Eid, particularly for those with existing health conditions,” said Ms. Al Saadi.
Individuals with diabetes and heart problems are urged to be especially cautious and to avoid overconsumption of refined carbohydrates and fatty foods, as well as foods that are high in salt and caffeine. Those with nutrition-related health conditions are advised to eat smaller portions throughout the day and to opt for healthier food choices during meals and snack times. Ms. Al Saadi recommends including whole fruits, vegetables, and legumes in their daily meal plan.
Ms. Al Saadi says that while Eid is an occasion to celebrate and enjoy a variety of foods that are often only eaten during the festive season, she says it is important to be mindful of food choices and particularly of portion size. She said many of the traditional dishes eaten during Eid Al Adha are rich in red and organ meats, and she stressed the importance of avoiding overconsumption of these foods as they are high in cholesterol and saturated fat and should be eaten in moderation.
“Traditional dishes like harees, thareed, balaleet, and luqaimat are more abundant during Eid and many people tend to overindulge, resulting in ill health. It is important to view these dishes as a treat and to avoid the temptation to overeat. In advance of eating, set guidelines for yourself about which dishes you will eat, and in what portion. This will help prevent overeating and in turn, unwanted weight gain and ill health,” said Ms. Al Saadi.
Ms. Al Saadi also encourages those celebrating to make healthier choices when preparing meals, for example by using a smaller portion of fat when preparing traditional foods or even replacing animal fat, like butter, with olive oil. She also recommends removing the skin and fat from meat and chicken before cooking and limiting the consumption of salt, fried foods, and sauces.
“Try using honey or date syrup instead of sugar or sugar syrup, and opt for whole wheat flour instead of white flour. Select low-fat milk instead of full-fat milk and experiment with baking dishes like sambousek, which is traditionally fried. Small changes can go a long way in helping you, and your family, stay healthy, and often without scarifying flavor,” added Ms. Al Saadi.
Ms. Al Saadi says healthy eating plans also involve safe food handling, cooking, and storage practices. Foodborne illnesses are a major cause of abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea, and Ms. Al Saadi says the importance of washing hands with soap and water cannot be overstated. She also says it is important to sanitize all cooking and eating surfaces, to rinse fruits and vegetables before eating, and to separate raw foods from cooked foods.