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Ease yourself into Eid feasting, health experts advise

People need to deliberately adjust their eating, exercise and sleep habits as Ramadan moves into Eid al Fitr.

ABU DHABI // People need to deliberately adjust their eating, exercise and sleep habits as Ramadan moves into Eid al Fitr and they go from fasting to feasting, health experts warn. "During this time, the metabolic rate of a body changes," said Dr Abdul Ghafoor, an Ayurvedic doctor with the Ayurvedic Alternative Medical Centre in Ajman. "It is most affected. The way to ease the transition is to eat lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, or salads. One should also slowly get into exercise."

Dr Ghafoor advises drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding certain dietary irritants, including anything too spicy, junk food, or eating yogurt on an empty stomach. Sleep patterns, which are disrupted by late nights and rising at dawn during Ramadan, will also need to adjust. Dr Ghafoor's advice is to try to return to normal slowly by taking small naps. Diabetics should be especially careful that their blood sugar levels do not fluctuate when they stop fasting, and he recommends that "they should go for exercise".

The most common ailments Dr Ghafoor encounters at this time are gastritis, kidney stones, ulcers, headaches, constipation and piles - "mostly caused by not following a proper fasting diet," he said. "One has to stop exercising during Ramadan because you either don't have the time or the energy required," said Rania al Halawani, a dietician with MedGate Centre in Dubai. "When you have only one meal a day, you are not able to fill your quota of the regular dietary requirements, water and fruits, to gain the necessary vitamins and minerals."

She encourages patients to go back to eating three meals a day with two snacks, to increase their metabolic rates. She also advises them to use dietary restraint. "During Ramadan, people tend to eat a lot of fried foods - from samosas to deep-fried fritters," she said. "Many of my patients have them every day during Ramadan. Others eat katiafs [a Middle Eastern delicacy of dough stuffed with cheese, deep fried and smothered in sugar syrup] which is available only during Ramadan. It's a good thing they will quit after Ramadan. Diet-wise, these are good things to leave behind."

Eid also brings with it a seasonal change, and vitamin supplements should be taken in order to avoid cramping of the muscles, said Dr Ghafoor. "Now that the body is purified and the stomach is cleansed, this is the ideal time to re-energise," he said. "When the fasting period is over, there is new energy." Meanwhile, Moly Jose, a herbalist with Home of Ayurveda, in Dubai, suggests rejuvenating massage packages to boost the body's ability to function, which can be compromised when the weather cools.

"Fasting and digestion affects both the internal and external organs. It is important to improve circulation and bring about relaxation," said Ms Jose. "During Ramadan, the body reacts differently, so care should be taken during this period, especially to combat fatigue." sbhattacharya@thenational.ae

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