Moderation and a little extra planning are the keys to a safe and healthy Eid al-Fitr, especially for individuals with chronic medical conditions, says an official from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).
According to Alalaween, Ra’ed Alalaween, senior clinical dietitian, HMC, food high in sugar, fat, and salt are easy to over-consume and can wreak havoc on the body’s digestive system, leading to vomiting, diarrhoea, cramps, and stomach pain, as well as unintentional weight gain. He also said cases of food poisoning also tend to spike during the summer months, underscoring the need to be careful about storing, preparing and serving foods.
“Many of the food traditionally eaten during Eid feasts are high in fat, salt, and sugar. It is a time of year when families eat a range of delicious foods that are not normally consumed throughout the year and this can lead to overindulgence. It is therefore important to focus on being healthy and practice discipline and self-control when eating,” said the dietitian.
While weight gain, indigestion, heartburn, and abdominal bloating are the usual discomforts associated with overeating in a person in good general health, overindulging can have serious consequences for those with existing health problems.
“Overeating during Eid feasts is unfortunately very common. It can be challenging to say no to a gracious host; however, consuming large quantities of food and drink can have serious consequences for individuals who have chronic conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes,” noted Alalaween.
“Simple alterations to popular recipes can make a big difference in terms of the amount of fat and calories without negatively impacting the flavour,” said Alalaween.
He recommends limiting consumption of soda, sugary beverages, and highly processed carbohydrates such as chocolate, cakes, jams, and biscuits. He says this recommendation is particularly important for individuals with a chronic medical condition.
He says eating in moderation is also essential for individuals with a heart condition. According to him large meals can adversely affect the heart as eating and digesting large quantities of food increases the heart rate and blood pressure, creating an extra burden on the heart. He recommends individuals with a history of heart disease eat small portions during meals and limit fatty, salty, and sugary foods such as salted nuts, cheese, and smoked meats.
For individuals with peptic ulcers, Alalaween suggests careful planning. He noted while no single food causes ulcers, spicy food, citrus fruits, and foods high in fat, might make symptoms worse in some people. He recommends being mindful of food choices, eating several small meals a day, taking medication as directed, and maintaining a well-balanced diet.
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