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The Aidilfitri (Eid ul- Fitr in Arabic) is a celebration that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and the beginning of a new month called Syawal. Muslim communities worldwide celebrate Aidilfitri to signify the victory of observing a month-long period of abstinence successfully, as a result of discipline and good self-control. Aidilfitri is a special food fiesta, in which there are certain must-have mouth-watering traditional dishes such as rendang, lontong, ketupat and lemang.
Indeed, food plays a significant role in the festive atmosphere of Hari Raya celebrations. It is a symbol of social bonding, celebrating togetherness and harmony between family, friends, and the community. Preparation of food along with sweet temptations until the wee hours of Raya morning along with other family members encourages mutual interactions and strengthens relationships.
During the festive season, it is easy for us to lose control and eat excessively. Whether it is fasting, festive, or regular seasons, you should always stick to the basic principles of eating in moderation, eating a balanced diet, and doing physical activities to stay active. Take this advice as a reminder to eat healthily and mindfully during this next month so that you won’t tip the scales after you’re done celebrating!
Home visitation is a must! Plan your open house visitation to accommodate your mealtime. For instance, attend according to your preferred meal times – lunch, teatime, and dinner. If you have more invitations in between, eat and drink minimally. Remember to use small plates/bowls so that you eat smaller portions and reduce the serving size.
Remove excess oil in curry, sambal tumis, and goreng berlada dishes.
Use heart-healthy fats such as canola oil, corn oil or sunflower oil to make kuih raya.
Cook chicken without skin and fat-trimmed meat.
Combine half coconut milk with half low-fat milk/yoghurt for curry, rendang, lontong/lodeh dishes.
Reduce sugar, oil and fat in recipes by cutting down on the suggested portion by half.
For natural sweet flavour, double up the amount of vanilla, almond or orange extracts
For natural sweetness and fruity flavour, use fruit such as raisins, dried apricots, dates or bananas
For natural sweetness and spicy flavour, use spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
Avoid artificial colouring in cookies/cakes/puddings. Try natural colourings such as:
Blue: Butterfly pea flower, spirulina powder
Purple: Purple yam, blueberries, purple sweet potato or squeeze some acidic ingredients such as citrus fruits into butterfly pea flower juice
Yellow: Chrysanthemum flower, turmeric
Red or pink: Strawberries, raspberries, beets, pitaya powder
Green: Matcha powder, pandan leaf juice, spinach
Brown: Coffee or cocoa powder
Avoid carbonated or sweetened cordial drinks. Instead, serve plain water or fresh fruit juice.
Reduce intake of salty foods such as chips (kerepek/keropok) and processed foods (asam, jeruk, sweets).
Our bodies may take around 20 minutes to recognise that the stomach is full. Of course, everyone is built differently. What you can do is to eat slowly and let your satiety hormones fill your gut. Allow enough time for your body to send a signal to inform on whether you should still be taking in more food. Take small portions to avoid wastage and to reduce to a tendency to overeat.
Vegetables are a must on a balanced food plate. Although protein and carbs dictate most of the Hari Raya dishes, eat as many vegetables as you can during your visit. They are a highly nutritious food that could prevent diseases while ensuring that you remain satisfied and full for a longer period of time.
Eat 5 food groups (carbs, proteins, dairy, fruits and vegetables) every day
Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables
Limit to 500 calories for each main meal
Limit to 5 grams or one teaspoon of sugar only to sweetened drinks; less is better
Exercise 5 times a week
Being able to celebrate Aidilfitri with families, friends and relatives joyfully is the reason to express gratitude for everything that the Almighty has given and blessed us with. It is the time for us to rejoice and rebuild relationships that last. Cherish the laughter and chats of the ones you have with you at this moment. Enjoy their company with good food but always prioritise what really matters.
Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir dan Batin!
Medically reviewed by Ashwini Nair, MB BCh BAO.
Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia. Makan Secara Sihat di Hari Raya [Ebook] (p. 4). Accessed April 26, 2022, from https://www.infosihat.gov.my/index.php/multimedia/buku-kecil/item/makan-secara-sihat-di-hari-raya.
Cox, J. (2019). Healthy Baking Alternatives. Eatright.org. Accessed April 26, 2022, from https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/cooking-tips-and-trends/healthy-baking-alternatives.
Eat Right and Healthy during Hari Raya. Laman Web Rasmi: Institut Kefahaman Islam Malaysia (IKIM). Accessed April 26, 2022. https://www.ikim.gov.my/index.php/2019/06/24/eat-right-and-healthy-during-hari-raya/
8 Healthy Hari Raya Eating Choices That Won’t Tip The Scales For You! Accessed April 26, 2022. https://www.axarewards.com.my/articles/8-healthy-hari-raya-eating-choices
Press Conference on Healthy Eating during Festive Celebrations | Bahagian Pemakanan. Accessed April 26, 2022. https://nutrition.moh.gov.my/en/sidang-media-makan-secara-sihat-semasa-perayaan/
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