Top 3 Healthy Diets in the UAE
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Top 3 Healthy Diets in the UAE

There are many diets out there, both safe and unsafe. We check out the top 3 healthy diets that are safe and involve qualified nutritionists.

Top 3 Healthy Diets in the UAE

 As the UAE comes increasingly into focus as an economic force, the health of its citizens is becoming a focus as well. With obesity rates and chronic disease regularly making headlines, the diet industry in the UAE is booming. We take at look at three of region’s healthiest diet trends.

Take an expat heavy region with a scorching, desert environment, sedentary lifestyle and convenience food culture and what do you get? The UAE’s ticking time bomb; an obesity epidemic that’s, quite literally, tipping the nation’s scales towards some of the worst chronic health outcomes in the developed world.

It’s well known that newcomers to the region have a tendency to pile on the pounds within their first year, and expats lightheartedly refer to this extra weight as the ‘Dubai Stone,’ but after the novelty of Friday brunches and hotel dinners has worn off, shifting those pounds can prove to be no laughing matter.

A recent poll in The National newspaper asked, ‘Which of These Diets do you think gives the best results?’ Of the four diet options, the Paleo Diet came out top with 38.6 percent of the votes; followed by a new craze, the Fast Diet, with 31 percent and the Dukan Diet at 20 percent. The Harcombe Diet came in last with 10.3 percent of the votes.

Interestingly, the influential U.S. News Best Diets rankings placed the Paleo and Dukan diets (both meat heavy and carb light) at the very bottom of their best diets table, due to their restrictive nature, lack of nutritional balance and unstudied effects, particularly on heart health. And as coronary disease is one of the UAE’s major killers, it’s clear there is something of a disconnect between how we equate drastic weight loss with best results, as opposed to what’s actually best for our all around health.

In order to successfully shed pounds and decrease the risk of chronic disease, it’s vital that we take a more holistic approach to our diet and health, and through realistic regimes that complement our existing cultures and lifestyles, rather than clash with them. Longevity is key; finding a diet plan that’s suitable for the long term. Happily, there are many healthy diet options geared towards being less of a crash course, and more a way of life. Here are three workable diet solutions that get results:

Mediterranean Diet

Inspired by the abundance of fresh, healthy vegetables, legumes and fruits of the sun drenched, Mediterranean region, this diet is based around a food pyramid which follows the basic tenets of healthy eating: plenty of vegetables, few saturated fats, protein taken largely in the form of fish, seafood and poultry, dairy consumed in moderation and just the occasional sugary treat or meal of red meat. It’s a vitamin and antioxidant packed diet, and numerous studies have shown that the Mediterranean style of eating is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, blood pressure and unhealthy LDL cholesterol, thanks to the abundance of olive oil rather than saturated fats.

The Mediterranean diet is also good for your brain, and recent research conducted at the University of Athens has shown the regimen to be associated with a reduced risk of mental decline in terms of thinking and memory skills, and found that those following the diet are less likely to develop cognitive impairments in later life.

This is all great news, but perhaps the best thing about this diet is how well it lends itself to cultural interpretation; after all a Greek diet is different to an Italian one, yet both adhere to a similar, basic food pyramid, and while remaining distinct from one another, both are equally delicious. This is a diet for people who enjoy food (and even the occasional glass of red wine); there is no reason to sacrifice pleasure and taste in the name of health.

Dash Diet

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and is not unlike the Mediterranean diet in that it’s a regimen with an emphasis on eating heart-healthy, fresh foods such as grains, fruit and vegetables, and avoiding saturated, low density lipoprotein (LDL) fats, sugar and salt; all of which have been shown to contribute to high blood pressure, cardiovascular and other chronic disease. DASH is therefore  highly pertinent to the UAE’s health concerns.

This diet was formulated with the aim of providing the foundations for a lifelong approach to eating. Despite advocating something of a stricter regimen than the Mediterranean diet,  DASH is nevertheless less about denial and cutting specific food groups in order to attain a more slender physique, and more of an overall approach to better health, with an equal focus on what’s going on inside the body, particularly in relation to the heart and cardiovascular system.It ranked number one out of 25 diets in the U.S. News Best Diets and is consistently recommended by medical bodies the world over and by organizations such as the Mayo Clinic as one of the best diets for tackling hypertension.

Lively Diet Program and Delivery Package

Whilst not strictly a diet regimen per se, delivery diet meal programs are big business in the UAE. Appealing to everyone from desk-bound office workers to busy Moms, the meals are freshly prepared by chefs based on your specific dietary requirements and delivered right to your door. They offer a convenient way to cover a range of dietary needs - from weight loss programs to specific medical conditions - without having to do the leg work yourself.

If you’re time pressed, or just lack the knowledge or motivation to persevere with a diet, these plans offer a great way to educate, inspire and kick-start a dietary regime that can be followed long term. Many companies offer a highly flexible approach with the support of nutritionists, fitness instructors and access to fitness classes as part of the package, if required.

Delivery diets don’t come cheap: prices average around AED2,500 to 3,000 per month, but all the thinking, preparation and calorie counting is done for you, making them ideal for dieters with busy lifestyles. While not necessarily a long-term solution, these programs are great at motivating and achieving fast results based around your individual requirements, and so make for a credible first step towards healthier long term eating habits.

There are numerous companies offering complete healthy diet delivery programs. Live’ly is a popular option that has a number of tailored diet programs and catering packages including Balance, a weight management program; Boost, a “metabolism boost without crash diets”; or Cure, for the nutrition therapy of specific medical conditions. All programs come with free consultations and a nutritional assessment with a dietician.


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