Dividing Iftar into three portions is the ‘secret ingredient’ to manage weight during Ramadan, according to Dr. Nawal Khaled, Director of Community Health at National Health Insurance Company – Daman.
Dr. Khaled singled out the practice of portioning Iftar into smaller meals as being key to maintaining or losing weight during Ramadan. She said: “Fasting in Ramadan has significant health benefits, and it is important to us at Daman that the public are aware of how to experience those benefits, while also understanding the health risks of mismanaging their dietary intake after they break their fast. This Ramadan, we are encouraging everyone fasting to start Iftar with dates, accompanied with a glass of water or soup, and then wait 15 to 30 minutes before continuing onto the main dish. The third portion, the dessert, is best had an hour or two after breaking fast.”
This dietary advice was part of the guidance issued to members of Daman’s long established Weight Management Programme, which uses a suite of digital tools, helping its members to manage and reduce their weight throughout the year. In 2018, Daman’s weight management programme helped 2,000 individuals to lose or maintain their weight. With the help of a personal health coach, 93% of participants in the programme managed to maintain or reduce their weight over the course of 12 months.
Several studies indicate that fasting in a sustainable manner leads to significant health benefits, including improved sleep, an increased metabolism, and higher life expectancy. However, unhealthy eating habits such as eating a heavy meal immediately on breaking the fast can lead to weight gain and lethargy during work hours. Over-eating during Iftar or Suhoor can lead to longer-term issues particularly for those with diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.
In addition, Daman advocates to those fasting to keep clear of foods and drinks which are high in salt, sugar and fat to maintain a healthy dietary intake throughout the Holy Month. The company also recommends incorporating a daily 30 minute walk after breaking the fast. Light cardio-vascular exercise twice a week is also beneficial to keep muscles active throughout Ramadan.