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From Fasting to Feasting

20 April 2023

3 minute read

From Fasting to Feasting

The minute Ramadan ends, you can almost smell “rendang” in the air – all the rich and delicious foods after a month of fasting. People dive in with such enthusiasm that they regain weight lost the month before.

Feasting generally starts from the first few days of Syawal and continues for the rest of the month, with open house invitations. That is a lot of calories to burn. However, if you lock in your calorie count for the day, you can plan (with a lot of willpower) what to eat or when to stop eating.

If you are visiting during lunchtime, try to keep your calorie count within your usual lunchtime calorie intake. Start with low calorie foods like fruits, before you even begin eating heavier dishes. Draw the line at foods that are rich in oil or santan (coconut milk) or have too much sugar, such as dodol, wajik and cakes.

If you do not see other options and don’t want to offend the host, take a small quantity, like a spoonful or two. Curb your food intake by using a small plate. This way, you will not be able to fit too much food on your plate.

Food must be taken in small portions anyway. For example, enjoy one ketupat with one piece of rendang (not beef or lamb, just chicken), plus one tablespoon of kuah kacang, and vegetables from sayur lodeh. If you eat at a relaxed pace, chew slowly and savour the flavours, you are bound to feel full even if you do not eat much.

As for Raya cookies, it is fair to eat one or two pieces at every house you visit. Choose those that are low in sugar and calories. Your choice of beverage also matters. Drink plain water and stay away from sweet, fizzy drinks.

Under Control

Avoid going for seconds. The most important thing is to not eat until you are full. If that happens, it could mean your calorie count has gone through the roof.

Hosts, too, can play a part when they organise open houses. Plan the menu with options in mind. Include more vegetables and fruits instead of a meat-heavy menu.

If you are serving nasi minyak, add more carrots, brinjal and potatoes to the dhal curry.

If you are serving nasi tomato, serve it with a big plate of jelatah salad (cucumber, carrots and onions). Consider adding healthier main dish options like soto ayam or laksa, which have comparatively fewer calories compared with beef rendang and the santan-laden lontong.

Always leave a jug of plain water on the table so that guests can have a healthier beverage instead of sweet drinks. Malaysian drinks can be extremely sweet, be they hot beverages like teh tarik or cordial drinks like sirap bandung.

If you are serving tea or coffee, serve it with milk and sugar separately so that guests can prepare their drinks according to taste and sugar levels.

This article first appeared in New Straits Time, 17 April 2023.

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20 April 2023

3 minute read

From Fasting to Feasting

Dr. Siti Suriyati Binti Buang

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