David Taylor By
Posted 20 Jul, 2018 | No comments
Posted in: Country Information

If you’re a frequent traveler then you’re probably quite familiar with the post-vacation pouch. In other words, you go on vacation, enjoy all the food on offer as part of your all-inclusive holiday and pack on the pounds as a result. It can be difficult to keep the weight down, and stay healthy when travelling.

According to research from the University of Georgia, even a week-long vacation may leave you carrying extra weight with the average American adult gaining 1-2 pounds a year from these trips. And what’s more is that it can take as long as six weeks to shift the extra bulk once you return home.

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Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is known for its decadence so if you’re planning a trip to the gorgeous UAE capital, you may be especially concerned about putting the weight on when you’re on vacation. But the city makes it remarkably easy to eat healthily or stick to dietary requirements (e.g. if you’re vegetarian), you just have to know how.

Embrace the Local Cuisine of Dubai

When you go on holiday, it can be tempting to stick to what you know, only eating the (often unhealthy) international options available to us such as burgers, fries and desserts slathered in chocolate. But if you’re especially interested in keeping off the weight and want to explore your options of healthy living in Dubai, it makes more sense to embrace the local cuisine of the city.

If you’re a meat-eater, it’s easy: dishes such as the zesty al machboos (rice, onions and meat seasoned with spices, lemon, and salt) or Chelo kebab (white rice with ground beef kebab, onions and saffron) are a solid choice. But many Middle-Eastern dishes naturally tend towards the vegetarian.

For those choosing to avoid meat, tabbouleh – a fresh-tasting salad made of tomatoes, green onions, cucumber, fresh mint and lemon juice or fattoush – is a great, healthy option. It keeps things light but is also filling, as it’s served with roasted pieces of bread.

These dishes are hugely popular in the UAE capital and you can order them from many of the takeaway restaurants listed on Many of the local delivery partners in the region now offer plant-based cuisine, too, making the most of local produce to create some brilliant meat-free dishes.

☞ See Also: 6 Must-See Natural Attractions in Dubai and the Abu Dhabi 

Learn The Language

Another reason why eating healthily when you go on holiday is so difficult is because you don’t know the language.

Arab countries are steadily embracing the English language, according to this report from In both private and public schools in places like the UAE, there has been an increased effort to teach students English. But officially, the national language of the UAE (and therefore, Dubai) is Arabic so it’s advisable to learn some of the language before jetting off.

By knowing some Arabic, you will be able to select the healthiest options from restaurant menus, knowing which dishes come slathered in butter, which have the most calories and so on. Meat products (e.g. gelatin) may have been used in some dishes too, so being able to ask the right questions in the language means you can avoid any unnecessary frustration.

If you’re struggling to learn Arabic, download a translation app on your smartphone or purchase a phrasebook to bring with you.

Here are a few words to help you out when ordering food in Dubai:

  • I am a vegetarian – ‘ana nabati / أنا نباتي
  • I don’t want… – ‘ana la ‘urid / أنا لا أريد
  • Do you have… – hal tamtalik / هل تمتلك
  • I am allergic to… – ‘ana hisasiat min / أنا حساسية من
  • Beef – lahm biqari / لحم بقري
  • Seafood – makulat bahria / مأكولات بحرية
  • Chicken – dijaj / دجاج
  • Salad – sulta / سلطة


There are endless fitness centers and gyms in Dubai so if you’re feeling a little sluggish, hit the treadmill and the weights! Just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean your workout routine needs to suffer. If you’re not interested in going to the gym, a great way to stay fit is to walk…everywhere. Rather than hailing a taxi, bring your walking shoes and enjoy exploring the city on foot.

Healthy living in Dubai doesn’t have to be hard work. You can still stick to your diet and enjoy what the city has to offer without missing out on all of the delicious tastes and scrumptious dishes.

Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through them, we receive a small commission. This will never cost you extra and in many cases you receive a special discount. We appreciate your support!

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David Taylor

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David left his 9-5 job in an office behind to see the wonders of the world and mix his 2 passions – food and travel. Since then, he’s been writing as a freelance for several years and aims to provide high value content and live life to the fullest.

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