After a month of abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, community members must return to the pre-Ramadan schedule in a balanced manner, a top health official said.

Ahead of Eid Al Fitr celebrations, Dr Omniyat Al Hajeri, Executive Director of Community Health, Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre, noted that people must consider the positive health and nutrition habits they followed during Ramadan.

“We should adopt some of the practices we learned during the holy month, such as mindful eating and stopping when we feel relatively full and returning gradually to our pre-Ramadan food and exercise schedules,” she told Khaleej Times.

Dr Al Hajeri underlined that people must avoid overeating during the holidays. “This is to prevent shocking your body and triggering undesirable spikes in your blood sugar, which would, in turn, result in effects such as indigestion, heartburn, and weight gain.

"We recommend avoiding huge meals saturated in fats instead of dividing your meals into light meals at 3 to 4-hour intervals and consuming small and frequent snacks distributed during the day to regulate your blood sugar. Also, stay hydrated by drinking enough water and incorporating healthy liquids.”

Dr Al Hajeri stressed having a balanced diet to maximise the health benefits of fasting during the holy month.

“Ramadan teaches us to look after ourselves spiritually and physically. We should always eat and move in ways that serve our body and overall health. One important pillar to take away from Ramadan is eating in moderation. Moderation does not mean eliminating the foods you love but instead eating them selectively to achieve a balanced diet. So, you can eat your sweets in small amounts and make sure to incorporate fruits and vegetables. We recommend eating slowly to everyone, especially coming out of Ramadan as you want to avoid feelings of over-excitement that could lead to a binge eating episode.”

Dr Al Hajeri recommended people stay active and do regular exercise through a routine.

“Movement is also key to maintaining healthy joints and a healthy cardiovascular system. I advise people to go out and try different forms of exercise and see what they enjoy doing the most. This will result in them wanting to exercise regularly rather than dreading it and seeing it as a task. Design your environment for success, and make sure that you have easy access to healthy food and healthy ready-to-eat meals and snacks. Make your exercise schedule and your activities part of your daily routine while ensuring that you include some fun and social activities you can enjoy with your friends and family. Finally, practice healthy habits regularly, reflect on your habits and progress and keep track of your health achievements.”

Dr Al Hajeri added that people could consider fasting more often than during Ramadan.

“The effects of fasting have been proven globally and continue to gain prevalence in the health and fitness world. These include blood sugar regulation, fighting inflammation, enhancing heart health by improving blood pressure, boosting brain function, and aiding in weight loss. Of course, when it comes to people with non-communicable diseases, we recommend consulting their doctors before they attempt fasting as it could have adverse effects on their specific cases.”

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