Making a smart choice on healthy foods during Hari Raya celebration is vital to avoid overindulgence of high-calorie foods. Nevertheless, the food fiesta should not sideline our healthy diet and eating habits especially after a month of fasting. Let us be in control of our appetite before it controls us with these 7 tips to feast your Raya food healthily.

Choose smaller plates for smaller portions to keep healthy

#1 Always choose smaller plates

This trick is useful when there are ketupat, lemang, rendang and lontong on the table tempting you. Using a smaller plate or bowl will limit the dishes that can fit into it and appear bigger.

Smaller plates or bowls create an illusion that your plate is already full while ensuring that you will take each of the dishes in a smaller amount.

That way, you won’t go overboard with the portion while still enjoying your favourite dishes. A bonus tip for you: limit yourself to a few bites if you’re visiting several houses, rather than eating multiple plates of food.

Lemang contains fat and is made of coconut milk.

#2 Reduce intake of oils and fats

Among the many must-have Hari Raya delicacies, some foods are oily, fatty, and contain coconut milk, such as lemang. These foods are high in calories and should be eaten only in small amounts. 

Choose low-calorie foods instead of oily and fatty foods. Keep your calorie intake in check with those substitutes: 

A) Eat fresh fruits over dodol and wajik

B) Eat ketupat or nasi impit over lemang

C) Eat soto over curry mee

    Are you on the calories watch? Check out Alvin Netto’s nutritional guide about Raya food and learn how to burn those “lemak” from each of these Raya delicacies.

    A tray of delicious and healthy fruits.

    #3 Indulge in some fruits & vegetables

    Kuih, dodol and wajik are often a choice for snacks and desserts for Hari Raya. These delicacies tend to be high in fat (from butter, oil or santan) and sugar. 

    Aside from all the carbs remember to include fresh fruits and vegetables. They are packed with high water content. They will keep you hydrated throughout, and also regulate your body functions and allow your muscles to work properly. 

    Hence, you are recommended to choose fresh fruits as snacks and desserts instead.

    Add lemon to your plain water

    #4 Limit the soft drink intake

    Most houses serve carbonated drinks and sweetened drinks during Hari Raya. Don’t underestimate the ability of sugar in soft drinks to make you pile on the kilos or ruin your teeth. You should not be chugging down fizzy drinks even if you’re opting for the diet variety.

    Instead, replenish yourself with lots of water. Water is crucial in our daily lives as it helps to flush out toxins and cleanses the body system. 

    Try not to consume caffeinated drinks. It is a stimulant that can be found in soft drinks such as coke, coffee and tea. As caffeine is diuretic, which causes your body to be dehydrated.

    Variety of kuih raya and dodol served for Hari Raya.

    #5 Limit the intake of sweet and high salt food

    Besides sweet traditional delicacies, savoury chips like kerepek pisang, kerepek ubi and kuih siput are the must-have traditional delicacies during Hari Raya. 

    However, these foods are high in sugar, fat and salt, which can increase the risk of getting high blood pressure. Therefore, be sure to consume them in moderation no matter how yummy they are. 

    #6 Slow down when munching

    This Hari Raya, take some time to complete your meals, at least about 20 mins each time. Talk to your cousins. Put down your utensils in between bites. 

    And make it conscious. 

    Eating slowly, taking time to chew your food and swallowing it before taking another bite. You’ll find that you naturally don’t want to eat that kuih sarang semut after a huge plate of lemang and rendang because your brain is telling you that you’re full. Win.

    #7 Adjust your recipes

    If you’re the host, consider making minor adjustments to the ingredients to prioritise healthier choices. Many Hari Raya dishes are made with coconut milk, which is high in fat and laden with calories. 

    Use a lighter version of coconut milk, or substitute it with low-fat milk instead. 

    Choose unsaturated oils such as olive oil and corn oil instead of palm oil. White rice can be easily substituted with brown rice to make meals more balanced. Consider using soy or rice milk as an alternative to condensed milk for your dessert. That way, you can still enjoy your favourite Hari Raya foods without the guilt. 

    With these tricks under your belt, we do hope you have a blessed and healthy Hari Raya. Go ahead and indulge yourself with the food (guilt-free!) but most importantly, enjoy the moments with those around you.