According to Dr Farhana Bin Lootah, an internal medicine specialist at Mubadala Health’s Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), it is important for everyone who fasts, especially for patients with diabetes, to reintroduce foods in a controlled and disciplined manner once Ramadan is over.
"Returning to a normal diet after Ramadan may be a shock to your body and could trigger undesirable side effects if not managed properly," she says. "Fasting leads to several changes in your body; for example, digestive enzyme production is reduced, and the protective layer of your stomach may be temporarily diminished. which can lead to irritation if your stomach becomes overburdened."
Dr Farhana stresses that your body will need time to readjust to normal digestion and metabolism. "If you overload your digestive system by overindulging post-Ramadan, you risk experiencing discomfort such as stomach cramping, heartburn and nausea," she points out. To avoid this, Dr Farhana advises starting with small meals and chewing foods slowly to encourage proper digestion. "Practise the 80/20 rule: that is, eat slowly and only until you feel 80% full. By eating slowly, you are allowing your brain to register the food in your stomach which in turn leads to increased satiety levels and prevents over-consumption of food."
She says it is also a good idea to include digestive-enhancing foods in your diet, such as probiotics, prebiotics and plain yoghurt to help replenish the good bacteria in the gut.
As many people choose to continue fasting for six days of Shawwal after Eid, she advises them to continue with the healthy eating tips they practised during Ramadan.