Let’s talk food in Dubai!

Food in Dubai

As we have entered July, many of us have been fasting for the past many weeks. There are numerous potential health benefits of fasting, including weight loss, lowered cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, but let’s face it, people are looking forward to getting back to their normal eating schedules. Are the residents of Dubai choosing healthy options, though? How are the foods that we most commonly enjoy in the Emirates affecting people here? Here, UAE Medical Insurance’s partner Pacific Prime attempts to answer these questions by examining available information about health and food in Dubai.

Dubai’s health situation

As with many other countries in the developed world, the UAE, and thereby Dubai, has been seeing increased incidence of so-called ‘lifestyle diseases’. In fact, some of the statistics related to the health of Dubai are quite striking. For instance, 66% of men and 60% of women in the Emirate are considered to be obese or overweight, and these kinds of figures can be seen across all age groups. This can be seen easily in children in the UAE in general, where a larger portion of children are obese than is seen in the United States, and, furthermore, UAE children have been found to have cholesterol levels consistent with those commonly seen in 60-year-old men. Here are some more points about the current level of health in the UAE:

  • 1 out of every 5 people in the UAE is diabetic.
  • The average age of heart attack patients at Dubai’s Rashid Hospital is 20 years younger than the worldwide average.
  • More than 40 percent of adults in the UAE between 35 and 70 years of age suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • The most common health complaint in the UAE is cardiovascular disease, both in expats and locals alike.
  • Non-communicable diseases are now responsible for over 60 percent of all mortalities in GCC countries, which includes the UAE.

As you can tell from these facts and figures, diseases of affluence have unsurprisingly become a major issue in Dubai, as well as the rest of the UAE. To counter these trends, it would be prudent to focus on a few main points: weight gain, heart disease and diabetes. Here are some of the popular local dishes you can find around Dubai, and some you might want to avoid over indulging in.

Food in Dubai

What are the dishes that Dubai is known for?

On the relatively healthy side of things, there are many great vegetarian dishes enjoyed widely in Dubai. These include staples like Falafel, Hummus, Kousa Mahshi and Tabbouleh. These foods mostly contain heart-healthy fats, dietary fiber and a smattering of vitamins that will provide good fuel for your body while not causing you to gain weight when eaten in moderation.

One of the main ingredients in the foods we eat leading to weight gain, and, thereby, other health problems, is sugar. If not burned immediately for energy, this sweet substance will be stored as fat in our bodies. This is why some of our favorite delectable Dubai dishes should be eaten very sparingly. These include desserts like Luqaimat, Khanfaroosh, Knafeh, Esh Asarya and Mehalabiya, or breakfast dishes like Khabees. Even something seemingly healthy and natural like Dates can have a serious amount of sugar hidden within.

Moving from simple to complex carbohydrates, the array of delicious bread to be found in Dubai will tantalize even the most veteran of savory food lovers. While often good sources of fiber, the carbs in bread often spike insulin, which promotes converting energy into glucose within your body, which will then be stored as fat. This includes the bread and wheat found in dishes like Shawarma, Al Harees, Manousheh, Fatteh, Kellaj, Lahem Bl Ajin and Tabbon Bread.

Finally, we have meat-focused dishes like Ghuzi, Al Machbous, Mixed Grill, Chelo Kebab, Stuffed Camel and more. While lean protein is generally good for you (and great for those who work out regularly), it’s still important to look at what else is on the plate. Watch out for sugary sauces and starchy side dishes that often go overlooked when placing your order.

Keeping healthy

Clearly, the flavors of Dubai are both rich and varied, and now you hopefully have an idea of which dishes you can enjoy on special occasions, and which you can regularly to maintain a healthy diet. In addition, it’s not always about what you are eating as it is how much of it you eat. Keeping track of your daily calories and managing your portions will go a long way to ensuring that your waistband isn’t expanding in perpetuity.

Coincidentally, the end of Ramadan this year also signals the beginning of the Dubai Health Authorities healthcare reform that now requires every single individual in the Emirate to be covered by a private health insurance plan, and for good reason. While preventive care and healthy living should be the focus for all of us in the UAE, there inevitably comes a time in the life of some when diseases like those mentioned previously in this article will catch up. This is when it will be imperative to have a high-quality healthcare plan that can address the potential costs of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Those who have yet to purchase private medical insurance for themselves or their families following the June 30th deadline should fear not, there’s still time. The DHA has stated that it will be giving a 6 month grace period during which no fines will be levied against the uninsured. That means people can still use the services of insurance brokers like UAE Medical Insurance to compare health insurance plans from major insurers in Dubai and receive free price quotations.  Whether you will be eating healthy now or not, it’s certainly in your best interest to prepare for any future health problems that could develop.

How to Fuel Your Fitness

work out fuel Energy boosts throughout the day are invigorating, and it’s extra-important to be energized and awake before a workout so you can get the most out of it. However, finding a pre-workout snack can involve a lot of trial, error, and wasted time at the gym. The right snack will give you an energy boost, and pump you up rather than drag you down. It should be enough to temporarily satiate hunger, but not so much that you are stuffed to the brim when you try to work out. Timing can also be tricky. You want a quick snack you can fit in before your workout, but it can be hard to know just how long before hitting the gym you should fuel up. Here, we’ll clear up the confusion and recommend the best time to eat, the ideal foods and beverages for fuel, and how much to consume pre-workout to get you the best results possible. Continue Reading…

The Dairy-Lovers Guide to Paleo

dairy

Following the Paleo diet is no small feat. Learning the ins and outs of what you can and cannot eat as a Paleo takes no small amount of research and resolve. For the dairy-lover, sticking to the rules is a Herculean achievement.

If you’re new to Paleo, this diet is modelled around that of our Paleolithic ancestors. Anything they ate, you can eat (including canned tuna and coconut flour cupcakes). Here’s how it works: Continue Reading…

How to Have a Healthy Easter

healthy easter

It seems like there’s always another reason to celebrate and a special excuse to cheat a little on your healthy eating. And just when the holidays are over, your New Year’s resolution is written in stone and the thought of summer clothing is getting you motivated, here comes Easter! The ham, the potatoes, and don’t forget candy, candy, candy! It’s not so bad to splurge on Easter Sunday but we all know that the bags of candy bought a few weeks ahead to prepare seem to have disappeared by the time the holiday actually rolls around. So, save the splurging on chocolate eggs for one or two on Easter Sunday and try these five alternative Easter treats to save your diet this year. Continue Reading…

Top 10 Tips For A Healthier Burger

healthy burger

Forget the knives and forks: the humble hamburger is in the midst of a renaissance. From Melbourne to Milan, restaurateurs have helped elevate this classic piece of American folklore into an iconic dish. Every day, more and more enthusiasts join the search for the perfect burger, flooding restaurants and gastropubs to gorge on dishes with creative titles: the Heisenburger, the Primetime and the Prohibition.

Our expectations of a burger have evolved. The days of a frozen patty cooked beyond recognition and slapped into a formless bun with a smattering of greenery are beyond us, but the humble burger is still, for the most part, not a healthy meal option. But the hamburger can be improved. We take a look at how to tuck into a burger, guilt-free. Continue Reading…

The Truth About Cleanses

cleanses

Lots of rumors and misinformation surround cleanses, but the main idea is rather simple. Cleansing is meant to detoxify the body from the less desirable things that have been put into it, like toxins or unhealthy foods. Cleanses can also be used to kick start a diet or a change in habits.

Some may confuse fasting and cleansing but they are quite different from one another. Fasting is restriction or abstinence from some or all foods and drinks and could be done for variety of different reasons, such as religion. Cleanses focus more on cleaning out the body and refilling it with nutrient-rich items.

It should be noted that cleanses are not a weight-loss solution. This can be confusing because you will probably lose weight on a cleanse, but you should expect to gain it back afterwards because it is water weight being eliminated from the body. This is similar to diets that prohibit a person from eating one thing or one category of things, like carbohydrates. While it does work in that you will lose weight in the short term, once the item is introduced back into the diet, the weight probably will be too.

Saying that, if you’re feeling unhealthy, sluggish or overweight, a cleanse might be just the thing to get your body headed back in the right direction. Here are four easy cleanses to get you on your way. Continue Reading…

The Adrenal Fatigue Diet Demystified

healthy

Adrenal Fatigue: The Facts

Adrenal fatigue is a collection of symptoms that result from an underperforming adrenal gland. Of these symptoms, the most prevalent one is fatigue that will not go away, even with extra sleep. As may be expected, adrenal fatigue can be hard to diagnose and pinpoint because the sufferer may not feel like she has a specific illness. Severity can range from a general feeling of being tired and unwell to more extreme cases where the sufferer may hardly be able to get out of bed. The less the adrenal gland performs its proper role, the more the rest of the body is negatively affected. Continue Reading…

Winter Drinks: How to Make Warm Spiced Wine à la Game of Thrones

Oh, Game of Thrones! So bloody. So juicy. So…delicious?

Indeed. All that carnage makes a knight’s stomach growl. After the battle there’s always time for hearty rabbit stew, honey-roasted chicken, thick pumpkin soup, roast onions swimming in brown gravy followed by lemon cakes and pigeon pie.

And with all those mouth-watering dishes flows a river of inventive vintages; strongwine from Dorne, as dark as vengeance itself; dreamwine from Qarth, to wash away aches and pains; the wine of courage for the Unsullied; metallic Ghiscari white, from the ruined city es Essos; and of course, hot, spiced wine at the end of a long day in any of the seven kingdoms of Westeros.

Any Game of Thrones fan worth his salt should be able to brew a nice pot of hot spiced wine. It may surprise readers to know that this popular medieval beverage is still around today. Spiced wine, or mulled wine as it is sometimes called, can be brewed easily in the modern-day kitchen, with ingredients found in most supermarkets. Continue Reading…