Can you believe it’s already been a week since Ramadan started? That’s 1/4 way through the month! And for those of you who are joining me, 1/4 way through our Ramadan Detox – which so far has been pretty good…
Well that is of course with the exception of those darned Herxheimer reaction symptoms, and I mean not just the headache and fatigue type symptoms (which are expected when you’re not eating anything all day) but the stomach bug type of symptoms if you know what I mean 😉
To be honest I was a bit caught by surprise to have detox symptoms since I believe I eat fairly healthy throughout the year but then it also made me feel like “YAY, my body is doing some much needed house cleaning”…
Common Detox Symptoms
Now if you’re new to detoxing and have been feeling not so great this past week but didn’t really put 2 and 2 together, some common detox symptoms you may have experienced include headaches, nausea, constipation or diarrhea, intestinal disturbances (gas, bloating, cramping), flu-like symptoms (congestion, runny nose), fatigue, body aches and pains. In fact it’s not uncommon to experience psychological and emotional upset, for instance mood swings, intense emotions, strong cravings for foods and strange dreams either.
The severity of your detox symptoms really depends on how many toxins you have built up in your body. In fact those that need to detox the most usually experience the most symptoms, so hang in there if you feel like you’ve just been hit by a bus, remember this is normal…
And while these symptoms often get worse before they get better – this usually happens around day 3-4 of the detox – so since we’re already on day 7, the good news is that the WORST IS OVER!
In fact your symptoms should be beginning to subside right about now… And aren’t you glad I didn’t tell you you’d feel miserable until just now – in this case I think ignorance is bliss – YOUR WELCOME
That being said, in case you do have some lingering symptoms like I still do, remember the most important thing you can do is to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and resting as much as you can so that your body can focus on the work of detoxing that it’s so busy doing.
Keep in Mind
Now although we aren’t doing a super intense liquid detox or anything, it is always important to keep in mind…
• If you feel your symptoms are too strong, if your symptoms show no signs of improvement or if you are unable to work because you feel sick, dizzy or faint, it could be that the detox is too much for you too soon. You may need to add more nutrients to your cleanse in order to slow down the detox process and allow your body more time to adjust. Again make sure to drink lots of water to help eliminate the toxins from your body. If you ever feel like you require medical attention, please call your doctor ASAP!
• If you are constipated, it may be wise to slow down your detox a bit as well. That’s because during detox, your organs are releasing toxins which are circulating in your bloodstream before being eliminated into your stool and if you’re constipated then these toxins have no where to go. In order to make sure you stay regular, I highly recommend that you have at least 1 tbsp. of flax daily – just mix it into your yogurt and enjoy. Exercise is also important as it helps your lymphatic system expel toxins, hence my recommendation for the detox yoga practice that I hope you’ve been doing.
NOTE: If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is not recommended that you undertake a detox at this time.
Now I must say that as much as detoxing has become some what of a craze and the “trendy” thing to do, it really isn’t EASY or, thanks to those good old detox symptoms, the most PLEASANT thing either! It definitely requires mental focus, so kudos to everyone who’s trying to eat as clean as possible this month and DOUBLE KUDOS to everyone who’s following a detox for purely personal reasons – KEEP IT UP because it will pay off!!
HAPPY DETOXING EVERYONE!
*If you’re brave enough, it’s not too late to join my FREE Detox Program, simply subscribe to my mailing list and I’ll send you weekly updates!
This last year has been quite hectic for me what with travel, business and family commitments and I can definitely feel the toll it’s taken on my overall well-being so I’m really looking forward to getting a good detox in this Ramadan. In fact ideally I’d like to lose the few pounds that have found a comfortable home on my waistline no doubt due to a few too many meals on the go, nights that took too long to end, early mornings that needed a coffee jolt and of course that wicked sweet tooth of mine…
And I’m guessing I’m not alone in this department, which is why I thought I’d share my Ramadan Detox Diet with you guys
Now considering Ramadan starts tomorrow, we’d best get cracking… coz if you’re anything like me you are just about to make a mad dash for the supermarket right about now!
Ramadan Detox Diet
So first let me say that a Detox Diet is meant to achieve a certain goal – flushing your system of built up toxins – and as such it has specific requirements that need to be met in order for it to be effective. These are:
- Eliminating foods that can unbalance your gut – these include highly processed and refined foods (this includes white flour and rice) as well as caffeine
- Eliminating foods that can aggravate a system that is out of sorts like milk and foods that contain yeast or moulds like leavened breads and cheese
- Reducing your intake of foods that acidify the body like fried foods and meats
- Consuming more foods that are alkaline in nature like veggies, whole grains and fruits
- As well as adding foods that can introduce healthy bacteria back into the gut like yogurt, kefir and miso
As you can see following a Detox Diet requires a lot of discipline but luckily it’s only meant to be followed for a short period of time (well I guess that’s relative – is 4 weeks short for you?) which is exactly why Ramadan is the perfect time to tackle it!
The goal of this meal is to provide slow burning fuel for the next 15 or so hours. So I usually try and include the following:
- 1 serving of whole grains (1/2 cup oatmeal OR 1 whole wheat chapatti)
- 1 serving of fermented yogurt (1 cup laban OR 1 cup kefir)
- 1 serving of protein (3/4 cup foul OR 1 organic eggs)
- 1 serving of fruit or veggies (1 banana OR 1 cup salad)
OK I know I know you’ll be ready to eat a horse by the time iftaar rolls around – but this is the time to focus on that mental discipline… Keep in mind that after such a long fast eating a large meal will send your blood sugar levels sky rocketing so keep this meal light but hydrating:
- start with 1-3 dates
- have a glass of warm water with fresh lemon squeezed into it
- finish it off with 1 cup of broth based vegetable soup
Wait @least 30 min or ideally 1 hour after iftaar to have dinner. And keep in mind that because the goal is to detox, the focus should be on eating more alkaline foods:
- 1 serving protein (75g baked fish, chicken or meat)
- 2 servings whole grains (1 cup brown rice OR 1 cup whole-wheat pasta)
- 1 serving fruit and veggies (½ cup cooked veggies OR 1 cup green salad)
Yep you heard that correctly but when I say midnight snack I mean a healthy one and it doesn’t actually have to be at midnight… I usually consider this my post-tarawee snack:
- 1 serving vegetable protein (¾ cup lentil soup OR ¾ cup hummus)
- 1 serving fruit and veggies (½ cup fruit salad OR 1 cup veggie sticks)
Keep in Mind
DON’T FORGET to stay hydrated! Make sure to drink @least 2L of water and/or green teas through out the night.
To make it easier, I’ve made it so you can download this plan here if you want to print it out and stick on your fridge. Now I’m a girl and don’t need as many calories as the average boy would so I’ve made modifications for any boys wanting to follow along on the printable menu.
BTW I’m offering a FREE 4 Week Detox Program this month if you want to really get into it with me! It’s something I would normally charge $199 or AED 750 for and my way of saying thank you for all the support and love you’ve shown me over the years <3 You’ll get weekly updates along with recipes, tips and exercises so you can get the full benefit of a Ramadan Detox.
RAMADAN KAREEM EVERYONE!!
*So how do you join the FREE 4 Week Program? If you are already subscribed to my mailing list you don’t have to do anything! If not simply sign up and as a bonus you’ll also get my 5 Key Strategies for Losing Weight & Keeping It Off. I can’t wait for us to get started!
Can you believe that Ramadan is just a few days away?! Now I know all of us intend to not just have a spiritual cleansing but a physical cleansing during this month but by the time Eid rolls around we’ve some how managed to gain NOT lose weight!
Now most of us realize that it’s all the feasting that takes place after the fasting that leads us to this unfortunate end … And while this is partially true, there is another very important factor that is at play here as well…
I don’t know if you know this but during long stretches of “famine” – or in this case fasting – our body automatically kicks into self preservation mode. And one of the first things that it does to make sure we “survive” these hard times is lower our basal metabolic rate i.e. our metabolism slows down. Oh yeah! And everyone knows that a slow metabolism is NOT a good thing if you want to LOSE WEIGHT!
But before you throw your hands up in the air in utter dismay, let me say all is not lost… You see fasting is really about detoxing your system – that is giving your body time to flush out any toxins it’s accumulated over the year – and if you do it right, you CAN actually lose weight while you’re at it too. (I know, I know there are a lot of people out there who believe fasting is only about detoxing your spirit… but science would have to say otherwise and honestly Islam is as much about science as it is about getting closer to your Creator)
On that note I recently came across some really BAZAAR articles on how to lose weight/detox in Ramadan – one of them suggested that you exercise for an hour, 2 hours before you open your fast and then only drink -get this – ONE glass of water when you finally DO have iftaar (I wish you could have seen my face when I read that one!)… So I thought this would be the perfect time to give you guys some REAL tips on how you can detox in Ramadan.
Now first let’s tackle the obvious – unfortunately you won’t lose weight or detox in ramadan if you eat a lot of fried foods or desserts! I’m sorry but not eating all day does not give you a free pass to eat how much and whatever you want… in fact since your metabolism is shot, it’s quite the opposite!
But don’t worry, aiming to detox in ramadan doesn’t mean you have to give up all those special ramadan foods we’re so used to enjoying either – coz honestly that would just suck!
OK so enough said, let’s get to it shall we…
These are My Top 5 Tips on How to Detox in Ramadan
- Be mindful of what and how much you eat – I know I said you CAN enjoy your special Ramadan cuisine, but here’s the caveat: choose those dishes that are also wholesome . Now I know every culture has it’s own special yumminess. For example, being ethnically East Indian, we grew up with fruit salad, lassi and chole along with fried pakoras and vade… and since Hanny is Egyptian, I know lisaan asfoor is a healthy and delicious way to open your fast if you hail from that part of the globe. As for how much to have… well I’ll get into that in my next post AND you can also sign up for my FREE 4 Week Detox in Ramadan Program (info on how to do this is at the end of this post)
- Take that discipline you’ve been culminating throughout the day one step further – now we all know that even though the Prophet (S) and his companions (R) fasted through the day, they didn’t actually eat much when they opened their fast either. And if they can do it as our role models, than we can do it too… in fact I’ve found that when you approach iftaar with mental discipline you actually don’t feel that hungry and even better you don’t feel ridiculously stuffed later. So plan your iftaar ahead of time and take time to eat slowly so you’ll recognize when you are full.
- Subtract these foods from your Ramadan diet @least 6 days of the week – OK so I know Ramadan without samosas is hard for me… me love my samosas people! But rather than having them every day, I keep these kind of treats for one day of the week… Now if you are a person who gets invited to a lot of iftaars (or invite people for iftaars) than plan to incorporate your one day of treats into these days. But beside the obvious fried and overly processed foods there are also a few more foods that, if you want to get the full benefit of detoxing, I would recommend you eliminate for this 4 week stretch (especially if you regularly suffer from digestive issues, headaches, joint pain and allergies): caffeine (this includes coffee, black tea, pop and chocolate), leavened breads – especially those made with white flour (this means no fatayar), and milk. Why these foods? Mainly because if your system is out of sorts they can add to the problem. Luckily 4 weeks is often enough time to get your gut sorted out so it’s not a forever thing!
- Add these foods to your Ramadan diet to help rebalance your gut – I think during this time of year, it goes without saying that it is important to try and stay hydrated (by drinking @least 2 L of water /day) but adding a glass of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it at iftaar; as well as yogurt with live cultures (kefir is a great option) daily will help detox your liver and rebalance your gut bacteria.
- Don’t use being hungry and spiritually busy as an excuse to stop moving – Now I’m not one for doing long periods of high intensity exercise when you’re fasting (though if you are a regular exerciser who keeps going even during Ramadan I applaud you) but I think short bouts of exercise and definitely incorporating some yoga into your nightly routine is a must if you want to effectively detox.
I should mention that taking the time to detox your system over these next 4 weeks will benefit you in so many ways (less bloating, gas, indigestion, heart burn and better skin in the long run)
Oh and don’t worry… the good thing about the human body is the second it realizes there’s no longer a “famine”, it’ll boost that metabolism back up where it needs to be!
P.S. I’ve decided that this year as one of my good deeds for the season, I will be offering a FREE 4 Week Detox Program for Ramadan (something I usually charge $199 or AED 750 for!) . So if you’re interested and you aren’t already subscribed, simply join my mailing list to get the weekly program updates! (You’ll also get my 5 key strategies to losing weight and keeping it off )
Okay so it’s super hot in Dubai. Not only that but it’s super humid too! I think summer is now in full swing pretty much everywhere – well except for Australia because they’re having winter now…
Anyways my point is even though most of us love summer, its characteristic heat and humidity can also mean feeling puffy for a lot of people or what I call Summer Bloating, which is not the best thing considering it is also barbecue and beach season.
So how do you know if you’re suffering from Summer Bloating?
Most of us associate a tighter waistband with being bloated. But water retention manifests itself in more ways than that like your rings being too tight to wear or your shoes not fitting. If you weigh yourself often (like once a week) and your scale keeps going up and down significantly in terms of pounds ( on average 1-3 lb., but some people can gain up to 10 lb.!!), this is a sure fire way to know that you’re retaining water.
If you are holding water, here are 3 things you can do about it
1) Drink water – yep I know it seems odd to think of drinking water when you’re body’s holding onto it but trust me the more you drink (well don’t over do it either, 2L is sufficient for most people), the more you’ll flush from your system. Not a big fan of water? Check out these simple homemade recipes for flavoured water minus all the additives.
2) Limit processed foods – you may not realize it, but with bbq, picnic and road trip season in full swing most of us have increased our intake of hotdogs, hamburgers chips… You get the picture. And processed food often means a lot more salt and other additives which in turn means more water retention. The easiest solution of course is to be aware of what and how much processed food you’re eating.
3) Limit refined wheat flour – what I mean is limit white breads, rolls, buns, croissants, cakes, etc. I know I know, technically white flour is a type of processed food. But considering it’s become such a staple of the 21st-century food landscape, I thought it deserved a separate mention. Especially since there’s been a lot of skepticism about eating carbohydrates, in particular wheat, lately (you know what I mean if you’ve read or even heard of “Wheat Belly” or any of the popular Paleo books). Personally, I don’t see much wrong with enjoying carbohydrates, in particular whole grain carbs like wholewheat bread, but I do agree that eating too much of the white stuff can effect your gut negatively including adding to the bloat. And again because we are in the heart of bbq, picnic and road trip season, even avid wholewheat lovers like myself end up eating more of the white stuff than we realize. So pay attention amigos.
While following these simple tips should really help minimize summer time bloat, the most important thing to remember is that at the end of the day if you are feeling puffier than usual, it is really just water weight and while it can make you feel uncomfortable in your clothes at times, keep in mind that it isn’t all that bad for you. So don’t get overly frustrated with the number on the scale if you’re up and down every week even when you’re eating healthy. It will pass as surely as the summer will come to an end.
Fatayar are the Middle Eastern equivalent of freshly baked bread… and they are by all counts really DELICIOUS. As anyone living in the Middle East, or who has had Middle Eastern cuisine knows, fatayar are similar to calzones in concept but taste nothing like them thanks to their unique fillings – spinach, minced meat, feta zaatar and labna… OK who’s mouth is watering?
The only down side is they are always made with white dough, which does give them that light and fluffy melt in your mouth texture.
This is one of the main reasons I’m sure, for why it’s so impossible to find them in a more dense whole wheat variety. If you are a bread connoisseur, you’d be turning your nose up right about now and I totally get that.
But that’s exactly why this recipe is so great!
These rolls aren’t meant to be fatayar, but they are soft and fluffy none the less and with a feta zaatar filling, they are a simply divine representation of the Middle East.
Feta Zaatar Stuffed Whole Wheat Rolls
Now I should mention that they are a bit time consuming, albeit fairly simple, to make mainly because the dough needs to be kneaded and then has to rest, but they are definitely worth it!
So this is what you have to do…
Procedure for Rolls
Warm your oven to 200 for about a minute – you don’t want it to be too hot, it should simply feel like a warm summer’s day in there
Mix the yeast, sugar and water together and set aside for about 2 min.
In a mixing bowl, using a mixer with a dough arm, mix remaining ingredients together. You can do this manually if you prefer, you’ll just knead (hehe – I couldn’t resist 😉 ) to use some elbow grease…
Add yeast mixture and knead until dough is firm (about 4 min.), adding a little flour and/or water as needed until it is no longer sticky.
Using some olive oil on your hands or on a spatula, remove the dough from the mixer arm and form it into a ball, leaving it in the bowl. Place wax paper and then a damp towel on top of the bowl and let it rest in a warm place (such as in the warm oven if it’s cold in your kitchen) for about 45 min.
Using flour dusted hands, make golf-sized dough balls (about 24 of them) and…
at this point you can simply drop them onto a greased baking sheet and let them sit in the warm oven for another 20 min. to rest before removing them, preheating the oven to 400 and then baking them for about 20 min. Brush them with a bit of butter once they are ready and keep them covered so you can enjoy them hot and fresh
OR you can add the yummy feta zaatar filling… (yes that’s my nephews cute chubby hand in the picture below – he couldn’t resist these rolls either 😀 )
in which case you would…
Procedure for Filling
Mix the filling ingredients together using a spatula and divide into 24 equal parts.
Flatten each dough ball with your thumb, put the filling in the middle and then pinch the dough closed around it.
Place the rolls in a greased baking dish and let them rest in a warm place (the oven again?) for about 20 min. before removing them and preheating the oven to 400.
You can brush them with a simple egg wash – 1 egg (beaten) mixed with a tbsp. water – and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top if you’d like, and then bake them for about 20 min. or until they are a light golden brown.
Again, store them in a covered so they stay fresh until you’re ready to dive in!
Makes 12 servings
(Serving Size 2 rolls)
plain whole wheat rolls: 119 kcal, 1.8g fibre, 4.4g protien
whole wheat rolls with filling: 148 kcal, 1.8g fibre, 5.4g protien
This year we welcomed my little nephew to the world and it has been quite the roller coaster ride. For his part Omar’s been more than fantastic mashallah, sweet natured and pretty easy going for baby standards. So when I say roller coaster, I mean a 3 person adult household all of a sudden being littered with diapers, bibs, burpy cloths… you get the idea.
However, since he was a C-section baby, we were kind of expecting a few hiccups in the GI department – plus I think ALL babies struggle with a bit of gassiness, or more like an inability to easily pass gas, as their little intestines adapt to life outside the womb.
So before we knew it we were searching the aisles for something to ease little Omar’s uncomfortable bloatiness – I know that’s not a word, but that’s what he had – and were pretty disappointed with the fact that most of the over-the-counter remedies, even the natural ones, had sweeteners like sorbitol in them! To me that’s a MAJOR RED FLAG especially since recent research suggests that a lot of the additives we once considered safe may be responsible for a rise in inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis.
So a homemade version of gripe water was looking like our best option… and after doing some surfing on the web we found a few recipes that we blended together plus making some minor additions of our own – and VIOLA we got something that worked pretty darned well for our little guy…
So if you have a baby who is suffering from gas – like we did – than this homemade Colic tea for baby can really help:
Colic Tea for Baby Recipe
2 cups water
3 in piece of fresh ginger
1 tbsp. fennel seed, crushed OR 2 fennel tea bags
2 camomile teabags (or 2 tsp. dried camomile)
Handful of fresh mint/ 1 pure peppermint teabag (make sure it doesn’t have black tea in it)
1 tbsp raw cane sugar or maple syrup (or to taste)
If your baby sweats when he sleeps – like my little nephew does then adding a bit of dried sage (roughly 3- 4 leaves) can help too!
Add ginger and fennel to water and bring to a boil, then gently simmer until it becomes a golden amber color (roughly 30 seconds). Cover and let steep for 1-2 min. Strain and keep in the fridge until ready to use. (Makes 2 cups).
You can give baby about 15 ml (1 tbsp) just before bedtime or anytime he’s gassy. I recommend using a bottle type medicine dispenser and warming it to just tepid in a bottle warmer – the same as you would for formula (test it on the bottom of your wrist to make sure it isn’t too hot). On a side note, if you are breastfeeding, this tea can be good for you too. You may also want to read up on Gassy Foods You Can Avoid When Breastfeeding.
We’ve been getting carrots in our organic box for the past few weeks, and thanks to the fact that both Imrana and I have braces – they aren’t the easiest thing to eat raw… so we’ve been coming up with creative ways to enjoy cooked carrots…
Which inevitably led to us digging out this Carrot Cake Recipe. Now as a child, I must admit, I’d walk right passed this humble cake and straight to the chocolate… but lately I’ve developed a love for the more subtle flavours of fruit (or in this case vegetable) based cakes.
Our Good Old Carrot Cake Recipe
We got a hold of this recipe way back when… from some obscure school cook book, but as simple as it is, it gets a five star rating from the family. In fact it happens to be Dad’s favourite!
The best part is it only takes a few minutes to throw together – grating the carrots is the only real time consumer. But thanks to our handy dandy Braun Hand Blender (did I mention I ABSOLUTELY love this little guy – but more on that later), even this takes no time at all!
So here’s what you’ll need:
1 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. each baking soda and powder
1 1/3 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup raw sugar (turbinado)
1 cup EVOO (preferably first-cold pressed)
2 cups grated carrots (YAY for our Organic Box)
Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl beat all wet ingredients together adding eggs one at a time at the end. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients and then fold in wet ingredients. Bake for 40-45 min in a loaf pan. Makes 16 slices (250 kcal)
On a side note, we ended up using our bread machine instead. It took a little bit longer to bake but we didn’t have to heat up the entire oven and since our bread machine mixes the batter for us, we could be SUPER LAZY carrot cake makers!
Don’t Forget the Icing
But hold on, everyone knows carrot cake is just not carrot cake without the cream cheese frosting!
Now I don’t know about you, but I always find that the icing is overly sweet on store bought carrot cakes. That’s why this recipe’s so great – you get to add just as much sweetness as you like!
Now here’s what you’ll need:
1 4-oz package light cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter
2 tsp. vanilla
icing sugar (we used about 2 tbsp…it was a bit sweet)
Cream together cheese, butter and vanilla. Add icing sugar until soft enough to spread. Makes enough for 1 loaf of carrot cake – 16 slices (48 kcal).
On a cold day – OK cool day in our apartment – with a hot cup of orange ginger tea, this really hits the spot. ENJOY!
Can you believe 2014 is over? Is it just me or did it seem to zip on by – and what a year it’s been! I hope your 2014 was filled with some great accomplishments though I am sure you must have had some near misses and even a failure or two that hopefully helped you re-prioritize the important things in your life – I know I sure did… a relationship that went South, a permanent move that turned into an unexpected return and of course all sorts of craziness that often goes along with trying to run your own business… but the absolutely best part of 2014 for me was the arrival of our new addition to the family – the birth of my nephew Omar Alshazly.
Some how the end of the year always makes me a bit nostalgic and I’ve always been fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who I have had the opportunity to create long standing memories with… this year I’m spending New Year’s in Dubai with my twin sister and her husband who we’ve known from University days so memory lane goes back a ways . While we don’t celebrate Christmas, we do have some interesting traditions that have sprouted over the years for the holidays – like watching Home Alone on Christmas Day… and when we were younger we were all about heading to downtown Halifax to watch the fireworks but that tradition’s slowly morphed into spending New Year’s Eve on the couch in PJs with a movie and board games along with take out or an ala carte style dinner that often resembles breakfast. Honestly looking back at it now I can’t imagine trying to get through traffic and standing for hours to get a terrible view of the fireworks here in Dubai versus sitting snuggly on the couch watching the countdown from front row seats on TV… yeah I’m OLDER and I’d say wiser
Hello New Year
But the end of the year also means the beginning of a BRAND SPANKING NEW YEAR and a stretch of 365 uncharted days ahead… opportunity, really to start fresh all over again. I’m not sure about you but I have a few incomplete 2014 New Year’s resolutions that have quickly been added to the top of my 2015 list of things to accomplish this year. With these comes gratitude for all that I’ve been blessed with including the opportunity to write this blog and share this little part of the web with all of you – Thank you for visiting me here, reading my ramblings and commenting on the things you find interesting. I hope to hear more from you in 2015 and look forward to answering your questions in the New Year!
I have realized that moving to Dubai is like starting University… Just like you have the Freshman 15 (lb. that is – or roughly 8 kg), we here in Dubai are all too familiar with our first year’s 10 kg (which is roughly 20 lb.) weight gain.
In fact one of the first things I noticed when I walked around Dubai is the fact that even the skinniest of people seemed to sport a little pooch… now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m obsessed with flat abs – though I wouldn’t complain about having them either – but I do care about being and staying healthy, and carrying weight on your midriff is a well-known indicator that bad things are sure to follow… so it perplexed me that most of us Dubains seem to carry extra weight on our abs… and sure enough by the end of the year I had one of my very own little pot bellies to prove it too..
But then I’ve already been here for about 6 years, so why I am I writing this post now? Well because I recently left Dubai for good… And then came back unexpectedly… And it turns out you are not immune to this phenomenon the second time around either… Yep I just gained 10 lb. in less than 6 months – and it all happens to have gone straight to my tummy!
The good news is once I recognized it, I was able to figured out how to lose this weight fairly quickly the last time around – thank God I’m a dietitian who’s been working in the field for some 10+ years, it’s a skill that comes in handy every now and again ;)…
3 Step Flat Abs Formula
So this is what works:
- cut out the fried foods and desserts – I would have loved to tell you that you could eat particular foods to help give you wash board abs, but unfortunately while this concept is plastered across the internet, its much more effective for you to cut out foods that add weight to your belly rather than eat foods that may increase your metabolic rate slightly. And as we all know one of the biggest changes we all get into when we move to Dubai is eating out more frequently… The lifestyle is so conducive to this mainly I think because it’s so much cheaper (or more affordable I guess regardless of what socioeconomic strata you’re in) and there’s so many delicious options to choose from. In Dubai it’s easy to indulge your tastebuds. But eating out doesn’t necessarily mean you have to eat unhealthy. Just remember to pass on the fries, limit the amount of free pita you ingest, opt for still water instead of drinks and save desserts for once a week. See it’s not so bad
- take up an activity – the other huge change we all go through when we move here is how much activity we actually do. Now I’m not a gym junky by any means… Quite the contrary in fact gyms just make me feel so out of place, but I am a walker. I can literally walk anywhere and not feel it, except for here that is… Unfortunately with the weather in Dubai, I can HARDLY walk ANYWHERE without feeling it so I usually DON’T walk as much as I normally would. But building regular activity into your day is not just good for your abs it’s good for you PERIOD. So pick an activity you enjoy, whether that’s swimming or walking, playing tennis or going to the gym, and try to do it regularly. Now that the weather’s nice I go for a 45 min. evening stroll with my sister and my little nephew on the weekdays – it’s also a great way to catch up with her and de-stress. While cardio – something that will make your heart pump a bit faster and make you sweat – is one of the best ways to lose belly fat, ANY type of additional activity is beneficial so make sure to do whatever works into your lifestyle regularly.
- drink water – I know I keep telling you this, but water REALLY does do amazing things for your body and your metabolism. I mean people weren’t kidding when they said water is the life force that differentiates earth from all the rest of the planets in our solar system. Plain and simply we need water to function – not just fluid from juice and soup or tea – so drink at least 2 L of it straight up every day.
Oh yeah, and as Colombo would say “there’s just one more thing…”and that is be patient – it will probably take me about 2 months to lose this weight… Now that may seem like a long time for some people, but in the big picture it really isn’t. In fact it’s less time than it took for me to gain the weight. Plus if you’re planning to procrastinate on the couch for the next 3 months+ while you’re looking for that quick fix I can guarantee that it will take you much longer to reach your goal.
Now, if I wasn’t a hijabi I’d totally share pics of my incredible inflating and deflating tummy with you to help inspire you (they certainly keep me focused) – but it’s probably a good thing that this would be completely awkward and inappropriate in the current context 😛
Good luck my soon to be flat ab’d nutriacs. Do let me know how you’re doing or if you have any other suggestions to share by leaving me a comment below.
Bonus: My Daily 5 min. Flat Abs Toning Routine
|Work up to holding this plank pose for 1 minute.|
|Work up to holding this side plank pose for 1 minute. Repeat on other side.|
|Work up to 10 reps of this side plank rotation. Repeat on other side.|
As a dietitian, who also happens to be a family member and a friend, I often find myself in an interesting position in my personal circles. The position in which people often want to talk to me about nutrition and get advice on losing weight, only to tell me they know all there is to know about eating healthy.
You know I get it, it seems really simple – calories in have to be less than calories out and eating healthy and adding activity are key. And to be fair, thanks to all the great information available on the subject these days, to a certain extent we all do know a lot about nutrition. In fact I know a whole bunch of extremely nutrition savvy individuals who have learned everything about nutrition based purely on their own interests. And I also know a lot of people who have decided to lose weight and then done just that in a way that would make any dietitian proud.
However, there are times when even though you know everything there possibly is to know about something – you’d still benefit from having an expert on your team. Just like you would consider getting a photographer for your wedding or seeing the doctor when you need antibiotics, seeing a dietitian for weight loss could just be the key to success you’ve been looking for.
That’s because while it sounds easy, we all know that there is much much much more to losing weight than just what goes into your mouth and how much you’re working out (like just not having enough time or not knowing what to make at 5:00 when the kids are crying for dinner, etc.). In my opinion, and I’m not saying this because I am one, there is nothing quite like having a personal nutrition expert – in particular, a dietitian – to guide you through your daily food challenges.
At the same time, when you’re paying out of pocket, which is usually the case, it may seem like an expensive luxury with the average cost per session for a dietitian running between AED 250-500 (roughly $70-140 USD) and the average weight loss package requiring that you have 12 consultations here in Dubai.
When Seeing a Dietitian for Weight Loss is Worth It
So when should you consider shelling out the cash for counselling?
- have been planning/trying to lose weight for a long period of time (you need to judge what this length of time is for you) without results.
- have lost and gained the same weight over and over again.
- are willing to put in the work but aren’t sure where that work needs to be put in exactly.
- have a medical condition (like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, PCOS, hypothyroidism) which makes it more challenging for you to figure out what you need to do.
There are 2 caveats though:
- An expert can give you the road map but you’re the one who has to do the work to get there – and it will require you to make changes; so do it when you are mentally READY to put in the time and embrace change.
- Not all nutrition experts are alike – and not all of us have the same experience or expertise or personalities so you need to find the right fit for you. My clients have told me I’m really nice, I’m pretty firm and everything in between. And while some of us need the nice guy others prefer having a drill sergeant. The important thing is you need to be able to connect with someone that you can develop a comfortable relationship with.
The reason I say this is because, while I’ve helped my clients lose a little over 6,000 lb. and counting so far in my career, not everyone I’ve worked with has had success – mainly due to one of these 2 reasons. That being said, I personally feel that just like I work hard for my money, my clients should see/feel that their money and time are also being well spent, which is why I offer a 30-day money back guarantee and a free initial consultation. And I am sure there are other nutrition experts who do the same too. So make sure to ask!
At the end of the day, when you add up all the money you’ve spent on supplements, diets, books, exercise equipment, etc. as well as all the times you were determined to lose weight or fit into that dream dress or pair of jeans you love without success; you may just feel that the money and time you spend with a dietitian will in fact be worth it for you.
The best part about seeing a dietitian for weight loss in my opinion is, unlike solutions like healthy meal delivery, you get to take all the valuable knowledge you learn in the process with you. After all it’s like the saying goes “give a man a fish he eats for a day, teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.”
PS. Don’t forget to check and see if your medical insurance provider covers the services of a dietitian as this is becoming more common now.