We recently discovered a unique weight loss and nutrition center called Green Central UAE, which offers fresh, healthy meal plans that include juicing for detox and nourishment. We were delighted to find out that a mom-preneur was the brains behind this innovative operation!
We had a sit down with Sarah Ismail, owner and nutritionist at Green Central UAE, and picked her brains about the idea behind Green Central UAE and how to eat healthy during the month of Ramadan. Here’s what she had to say.
- What inspired you to launch Green Central UAE?
I’ve been a dietician for the past 12 years, having worked in Lebanon, Bahrain and the last six years in the UAE. I have extensive experience from the clinical side and the catering side, where I’ve worked in hospitals and medical clinics dealing with both outpatient and inpatient meals. I’ve also worked as a dietician in multiple weight loss organizations. I wanted to combine all the lessons I’ve learned from both sides of the industry, and start my own thing. I wanted to formulate my own menus, portions, quality of the food, presentation etc. And this idea transpired into my very own nutrition center, Green Central UAE.
- What differentiates Green Central from other nutrition centers?
Green Central UAE takes on a clean eating approach, which means our ingredients are all fresh, natural, healthy and low in processing, so for instance lower in gluten or sugar etc. These meals support better digestion, increase energy levels and help lower sugar cravings. We also have the juicing for cleansing concept as well, which I believe makes us the only center in Abu Dhabi offering both healthy meal plans and detox juices.
We believe that by adjusting how we eat we can improve our digestion and effortlessly lose weight. At Green Central, we create international meals with diverse ingredients which are globally accepted. Our aim with our meal plans is to get people to change their lifestyle by trying out and including new and healthy ingredients in their meals. If we stick to the same types of foods, then people will revert back to those foods after their diet plans, and nothing would have changed except that they are now eating the full fat versions all over again. This would cause them to regain the weight they lost, and they wouldn’t have benefitted from the plan at all.
- Can you tell us more about the juicing for cleansing concept?
Juicing is one of the most effective methods of introducing more fruits and vegetables into your daily life. Our juices are 100% organic, raw and natural. All our juices are cold-pressed, which means the fruits and vegetables are added as a whole and compressed in a high-pressure hydraulic press. This is the quickest way to intake fruits and vegetables because you are absorbing the maximum nutrients and fibres from the fruits and vegetables. And because they are cold-pressed, and not exposed to heat, the nutrients do not die in the process of juicing. However they are not pasteurized, and therefore are required to be consumed within a few days of production.
Our clients that are on the Ultimate plan, which includes both meals and juices, absolutely love the juices and keep coming back for more.
- What do you think are the challenges for healthy living and eating in the UAE?
It’s easy to adopt a healthy lifestyle in the UAE. There are plenty of gyms, weight loss centers, and readily available and affordable healthy foods and ingredients. I think the main challenge is the mindset, the will to adopt this healthy lifestyle, especially because of how easy it is to obtain a fast food meal or engage in a luxurious feast.
Plus there’s the mentality that food is a reward, and sometimes people think that treating themselves to a decadent dessert for example is their reward for a hard or stressful day. The problem is that these unhealthy foods are high in saturated fats, which cause health issues such as diabetes and obesity, in both children and adults. And these are prominent issues in our society.
- Do you have any advice for people who are fasting on how to maintain their weight and eat healthy?
Ramadan is the best time to lose weight. Because you’ve been fasting all day, your body is already going through a cleanse. If you’re gaining weight during Ramadan, it means that you’re overeating and eating fattening foods. On the other hand, if you give your body healthy foods during iftar, you’re replenishing and refueling your body in the right way.
Here are three main tips to eating healthy in Ramadan:
- Eat healthy in general to help your body cleanse and lose weight
- Eat protein-rich foods to keep your muscles strong
- Drink lots of water to stay hydrated and reduce food cravings
- Are you offering any iftar meal plans this Ramadan?
Yes, because it is Ramadan, we’ve added a new meal plan that caters to people who are fasting. And this new menu includes cultural dishes inspired by Arabic food due to high demand for it at this time. We want to encourage people to continue on their weight loss journey by providing them with the food they want to eat but prepared in a health-conscious manner.
We’ve also included Ramadan desserts such as Atayef, but only a couple of times a week instead of on a daily basis. If we find that this meal plan deems successful and has growing demand, we might keep it as an ongoing meal plan. Although I still believe the clean eating approach is the more effective path to weight loss and healthy living.
- What does the perfect iftar meal look like?
Well here’s an example of one of our Ramadan meal plans, which is a well-balanced meal. We always start the meal with dates and yoghurt. Then we include a light appetizer, soup, salad, main course (in this case chicken and rice), dessert, and fruit. Our suhour meal plans include sandwiches, salads, or an omelette.
Our iftar meals in general offer a lot of food, but healthy and nutritious options that support weight loss.
Sisi & Rara