Celebrate Hari Raya and stay healthy

First comes the willpower, then comes the reward. After a month of dawn-to-dusk fasting during Ramadan, Hari Raya Aidilfitri (also known as Hari Raya Puasa) is given a ravenous welcome. This means eating traditional festive dishes and kueh takes centre stage during Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

But then come the pesky guilt trips. Research shows that holiday periods are usually when people tend to put on weight — weight they don’t tend to lose even after the holiday season is over .

Understandably, festive foods can be like kryptonite. Think lontong or rendang (yum), pineapple tarts and sugee cookies (double yum!) — who can say no to all these mouth-watering goodies? Try these tips and tricks to savour tasty treats without jeopardising your waistline and health.

#1 Don’t show up to a Hari Raya party with a grumbling stomach

Attacking your food like a wildling on Game of Thrones is not a good look. Fill up with a high-fibre snack like an apple or some crackers first; pre-snacking will help prevent you from overeating.

#2 Think of water as your helpful kaki

Drink one to two cups of water before eating. Not only does this keep you hydrated, it also fills your stomach so you are less likely to overeat. When offered a drink, say yes to plain water and politely decline sweet drinks. If you crave something with flavour, go for unsweetened tea or coffee.

#3 Overeaters, use the plate trick

Feel tempted by that inviting slice of kuih lapis? Help yourself — but to a small piece. There’s no reason to deprive yourself of your favourite food; the trick is to eat smaller portions and don’t go for seconds. Want a super tip? Use a smaller plate. It helps with portion control while tricking your brain into thinking you’re eating a regular amount.

#4 Make slowness your superpower

Having not eaten all day, it may be tempting to dive into the foods faster than Joseph Schooling dives into a pool. The problem is that these foods may not always be the most healthy, and eating too fast can cause you to overeat. Overeating is a particular problem for people with diabetes (of which there are more than 440,000 in Singapore). Start with #2 and always keep #3 in mind.

#5 Squeeze in some exercise

We get it, holiday time is for chilling. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still get your sweat on. A simple brisk walk around your apartment block or doing a few sets of ab crunches at home is still taking care of your fitness.

#6 Take it easy with fatty foods

We all know too much high-fat food is unhealthy and can make us gain weight. This Hari Raya, limit your intake of deep-fried foods such as kuih ros, resist the temptation of crispy chicken skin and avoid any visible fat on meat.

#7 Pot luck? Bring a healthy meal option

Joining a pot luck family feast? Think #HealthyRecipes, not #CheatDay, and prepare something yummy and healthy? Terik tauhu tempeh (braised soya bean curd and fermented soya bean curd) is a great example of a flavourful dish that is fairly low in fat and high in protein. When making a recipe that calls for full-cream milk, such as gravy, substitute with low-fat evaporated milk instead. By cutting down saturated fat in your dishes, you can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

#8 Don’t kick yourself if you overindulge

Hari Raya Aidilfitri only comes around once a year. It’s okay if you have overindulged at one meal. Just try not to make a habit of it during this period, or you may feel bloated and have low energy.

#9 But do remember to care for yourself

Don’t forget to keep up with your self-care routines during the festive period. Enjoy yoga? Stick with it to help you feel relaxed and grounded. By taking care of yourself, you will feel more motivated to enjoy your favourite Hari Raya dishes in a healthy way.


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