Eat Right and Healthy during Hari Raya
The Aidilfitri celebration marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Muslim communities worldwide celebrate the victory of a long period of abstinence. Aidilfitri is also a special food fiesta especially for 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, togetherness and harmony of family, friends, and the community, while the preparation of food along with family members encourage mutual interactions and strengthen relationships. The variety of dishes and an array of mouth-watering delicacies served on the occasion, nevertheless, should not side line our healthy diet and eating habits in order to maintain good health, especially after a month of fasting.
Food is abundant in Malaysia especially during the festive season. Making a smart choice on healthy foods is vital to avoid over-indulgence on high calorie foods. Moreover, the difference in meal times from the holy month of Ramadan should make us aware that our digestive system needs to adjust itself in processing food throughout the day instead of just after sunset. Cramming the stomach with food might shock the digestive system and weaken the body.
During the festive season, many tend to eat excessively, too. Over eating is bad for our health. Islam does not encourage one to eat excessively as it is adverse to our body. Miqdam ibn Ma’d reported that the Messenger of Allah SAW said: The son of Adam cannot fill a vessel worse than his stomach, as it is enough for him to take a few bites to straighten his back. If he cannot do it, then he may fill it with a third of his food, a third of his drink, and a third of his breath [Sunan al-Tirmidhi].
The three rules of healthy eating habits are moderation, food variety and a balanced diet should be practised throughout our life and not only confined during fasting in Ramadan. Such a healthy eating habit not only preserve the physical health, but also maintain the momentum of worship to Allah.
Often, many overlook in taking care of their health as they get busy with the various preparations for the Raya celebration and later, during Shawal with the multitude of open house invitations to fulfil. The truth is, we should heed the lessons learnt during Ramadan pertaining food consumption. Many a time in the Ramadan tazkirahs, we were reminded to be moderate and not extravagant in food consumption. Hence, to control food intake especially the high calorie category during Hari Raya, using smaller plates and taking small portions of each food type are highly recommended. Indeed, despite the tips, the food would still taste as delicious to be enjoyed but in a more proper way.
Hari Raya is not the time to eat and drink with a vengeance after a month of fasting. Aidilfitri also is absolutely not a ticket to put aside healthy eating habits. We must not go overboard when celebrating Aidilfitri. It is important to know how much food is required to meet one’s body’s needs. Allah SWT has commanded Muslims to carry out self-control without risking their health. Moreover, people who suffer from diabetes need to observe their consumption of sugary foods and drinks closely. Uncontrolled eating during the festive season may increase the risks of developing non-communicable diseases particularly diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Thus, Muslims need to be more concerned and become health conscious in pursuing a healthy lifestyle.
Socially, the Aidilfitri celebration can forge close relationships among relatives and friends. The food served would act as the mechanism that builds such bonding and togetherness. Focusing on the conversation among one another can make the gathering meaningful and develop close knit ties. Thus, we should enjoy the celebration not only for the food. To delight in the atmosphere, try eating and chewing slowly while chatting with others and stop when the stomach is almost full to prevent over-eating. Hence, let us be in control of our appetite before it controls us.
Another tip on healthy eating habit is to eat a small portion at home first before visiting friends and relatives. This will make us less tempted of the delicious Hari Raya delicacies, since hunger drives over-eating while satiety helps to raise our alertness on food selection. Healthy food such as high fibre snacks, fruits and water will help the stomach become satiated and less likely to take too much food.
The transition of the daily routine beginning Aidilfitri needs to be carefully managed in the first few days of Shawal. Maintaining the Ramadan disciplined routine shall help us to achieve a lifetime goal of healthy eating habit.
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. Equally essential is that we maintain the lessons of Ramadan and keep up with the spirit of Shawal for the next following months.
Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Maaf Zahir Batin!