ABU DHABI // Mafraq Hospital and the Grand Millennium Al Wahda hotel have come up with diabetic-friendly options that will be added to the chain's menus across the Middle East.
The project combined the skills of the Abu Dhabi hospital's dieticians, nutritionists and endocrinologists, and the Grand Millennium's executive chef, Gus Moustakas, himself a diabetic.
Mr Moustakas will train the hotel's kitchen staff in preparing the meals.
The new options mean diabetics can eat out with awareness instead of guilt, said Batool Nisar, the head dietician at Mafraq.
The menu includes options such as niçoise salad, steak, chocolate mousse and cheesecake, using ingredients that are low in fat and carbohydrates, and served in appropriate sizes, Mrs Nisar said.
Dr Khaled Al Jaberi, the chief of endocrinology at the hospital, said the menu should not be seen as something that is being forced upon people with diabetes.
"As soon as we heard about the initiative and the idea itself, we got really excited," Dr Al Jaberi said. Diabetes, he noted, presents a huge problem in the Middle East.
"It's a brilliant idea, and a new innovation ... by doing this, we are not trying to restrict what they eat, but we want to tell them that there are different options, and we want to give them the knowledge."
All 12 hotels that carry the Millennium and Copthorne brands across the Middle East will amend their restaurant menus.
According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the UAE has the second-highest prevalence of diabetes worldwide, after the Pacific island nation of Nauru.
It was "relevant" to create the menu, said Michael Marshall, the vice president of sales and marketing at the Millennium.
"We have seen, especially in this region, how many diabetes sufferers there are and how it's been increasing in a few years," he said.
Mr Marshall said the new menus will have the IDF universal symbol for diabetes - the outline of a blue circle - printed alongside certain meals, offering guidance to those with the illness.
"What we want to stress here is that it's not a diabetic diet, it's a healthy diet," Mrs Nisar said. "It should be the diet for every one of us."
@ For more on DIABETES visit thenational.ae/topics