Dieting Pitfalls of an Abu Dhabi Mum

This morning I stepped onto the scales to check on my dieting progress and it made for the grimmest of grim reading. The Brothers Grimm have nothing on this.

I did all the usual tricks, holding my breath, positive visualization of myself at my slimmest and hottest (although let’s face it, that was when I was about 19 years old so maybe a tad unrealistic), standing on one foot….to no avail. The scales don’t lie and neither do my hips. Not only did I not lose any of my mass, I actually gained a pound.

This isn’t going to be a self pitying rant about losing baby weight and how my body has changed beyond recognition. Nor will it be a lentil-weaving type debate about whether we should even try to lose weight or just learn to love ourselves and go hug trees. What this will be is a look at some of the reasons why a not-so-yummy mummy like me, living in the fabulous place that is Abu Dhabi, finds dieting just a bit challenging…..

The Coffee Mornings

Ideal with a cup of tea

Ideal with a cup of tea

One of my favourite things about having a baby here is the sheer amount of options available for meeting other mums over a cuppa and a slice of cake. At 10am on any weekday morning, you are likely to see groups of tired-looking but chatty ladies with babies, storming coffee shops in malls all over the city. These events provide a reason to leave the house, a forum for commiserating, sharing joyful stories of sleep deprivation and let’s come back to it….cake. Yes, we could all just drink skinny lattes and avoid eating naughties but where’s the fun in that?

Tea is made for cake. Coffee is made for cake. We all need the sugar just to stay awake (oh that could be a wonderful song, but I digress!)

Even if a coffee morning is hosted at a fellow mum’s home, chances are there’s a star baker amongst the crowd who somehow found time in-between changing nappies to bake a scrumptious cake. After all that effort, it would be rude not to try a piece.

Several coffee mornings per week, combined with my feeble willpower, means that I put away a fair amount of baked goods. Enough said.


The Heat

The exact opposite of this...

The exact opposite of this…

Back home in the UK, in the winter time when the weather is cold and frosty, it’s lovely to be indoors in front of a roaring fire, eating hearty and rather stodgy home-cooked food. A lot of people gain a few extra winter pounds from comfort eating and being less active in the great outdoors.

For me, the Middle East in the summer works largely to the same principles, although substitute the roaring fire for a large air conditioning unit and cold weather for scorchingly hot. Like, 50 degrees hot. We spend a lot of time indoors. Stodgy comfort food totally optional.



The Restaurants

We are ridiculously lucky to have endless options for eating out in Abu Dhabi. So many luxury hotels with several restaurants each, independent eateries, mall restaurants, cafes, street food vendors and the list goes on. My husband and I purchase the Abu Dhabi Entertainer book each year, which is a voucher book containing hundreds of two-for-one meal vouchers. Obviously this means that we must visit as many of the restaurants as possible to use up the vouchers. With Little O in tow, it’s a bit tricky but we can still do daytime mall restaurants and cafes, and the very occasional dinner out when we can find a babysitter. Just to get value from the voucher book, of course.

Dangerously (for my diet) the majority of these restaurants also do online ordering for home delivery, so a 5 star meal is just a few clicks away. As an unwilling cook, these services are priceless to me, especially on those evenings when the baby refuses to go to bed and by 9pm we are exhausted and wondering what we can have for dinner. The delivery guys are starting to become good friends of ours.



Who could resist?

Who could resist?

No, not just a meal somewhere between breakfast and lunch, to ease the headache after a big night out.

Here, ‘brunch’ means something entirely different. Think all-you-can-eat buffet extravaganza with unlimited beverages of the soft or adult variety. The Friday brunch is a legendary phenomenon (our weekends are Friday and Saturday, we don’t just take Friday off work to indulge, for those who were wondering!). These events happen at virtually all hotels and run from around 12noon to 4pm. During this time, one can eat and drink an unlimited amount. The buffets are like nothing you’ve ever seen before, food from all over the globe, presented beautifully. A dieter’s nightmare.

For me, the desserts are the killer. One hotel even has a dessert ROOM, no kidding. Many a time I’ve left at the end of a brunch with a sugar headache after trying pretty much one of everything.

I’m limiting brunches as much as possible at the moment but it would only take one to undo all my ‘good’ work (although I’m not sure putting on a pound actually counts as good work). For those not in UAE, if you ever visit, you must try one. I might even join you, especially if it’s at the hotel with the dessert room.


In view of all of the above, I’m actually coming around to the fact that I may just need to learn to love the Mummy Tummy.

Mums should be a bit cuddly, right??


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11 thoughts on “Dieting Pitfalls of an Abu Dhabi Mum

  1. I just can’t say no to a bit of a cake! My maternity leave was spent meeting up with other new mums and drinking lots of hot chocolate and eating lots of cake…so sadly I think I weigh more now than when I got pregnant. It’s not a mum tum, more of a cake tum! I have to say those brunches sound amazing, I just wouldn’t be able to leave that dessert room 😉 #sundaystars

  2. Well it sounds the perfect place for me and the Hubby. We love cake and food but I fear if we visited I might return home weighing more than a stone heavier. I think you should give yourself a break, you obviously can’t be rude and not try someone’s cake! And it would also be rude to not eat wonderful food when it’s so readily available.

    I wouldn’t worry about that pound, you’ll get there hun. xxx

  3. I’m hungry just reading this post! Seriously, a dessert ROOM? I feel a visit to Abu Dhabi may be a necessity in my future, even if its a flying visit just for Friday brunch 😀 Thanks for linking up with #sundaystars

  4. Gosh – yes the food! I worked in Abu Dhabi for a couple of days each week when we lived in Dubai. It is hard to be sensible when there is so much yummy stuff available. It’s actually the same here in the BVI. So many coffee mornings, which all come with too much delicious cake. There is also nowhere to walk here so you’re in the car all the time. It takes a toll on my thighs… If only all the time on the beach in swimwear could inspire me! Jen

  5. Oh my days, I do not envy you at all – all the temptation so readily available! Just take time out for you and do not worry about bouncing back straight away! Maybe step away from the scales for a week or so and you may surprise yourself when you step on them again! Hope you are well and having a lovely week! Thank you for linking up with #WeightLossWednesday and hope to see you again soon! Sim xx

  6. I can completely relate to this. I am actually on a diet and fitness program with my mother right now for 30 days no junk while vacationing in the states for two months. Vacation and diets never work out but last year on this exact vacation I gained 10 lbs I have yet to get rid of and I didn’t want to add to it again this year. So I am staying away from all my fave america restaurants, ice cream parlors, burger joints, and starbucks as much as possible. It’s hard. Maybe I should live life to it’s fullest and be more fuller around the tummy. While a lot of people think I am pretty small I am a stone heavier than I have ever been in my life it’s hard to swallow no matter what size you start out at. My clothes don’t fit and I miss them. I have hear of the amazing cafes and brunches in Abu Dhabi so i can imagine it’s so hard with temptation all around you. Big hugs. Cuddly moms really are the best you are right about that. lol 🙂 Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

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