Don’t overeat at open houses, urge experts

GEORGE TOWN: When attending Hari Raya Aidilfitri open houses, gatherings and feasts, opt for smaller bowls or plates to control your food portions to avoid overindulging this festive season.

Universiti Sains Malaysia’s family medicine specialist Dr Mastura Mohd Sopian said when people use bigger plates or bowls, they tend to heap on food which they have to force themselves to eat or will end up in the waste bin. She also advised the public to avoid mindless snacking directly from large containers.

Dr Mastura said it is fine to indulge in rich and flavourful delicacies this Hari Raya, but one has to be mindful about being selective and not overeat.

She said although it is unavoidable for people to be tempted with the variety of delicacies served at festive gatherings, it is important to maintain a balanced diet while enjoying the treats. She said one should stick to their regular meal schedule to prevent overeating during gatherings and avoid skipping meals so that they can eat more food later.

“Plan your meals ahead, ensure they are balanced and nutritious to keep you satisfied and avoid overindulging,” she said.

Dr Mastura advised people to be selective with beverages as sweet drinks are usually served during Hari Raya.

“The best is to opt for water to stay hydrated and avoid consuming sugary drinks which contain excess calories,” she said.

Dr Mastura pointed out that one should limit the intake of sweetened beverages as it leads to weight gain.

“If possible, plan ahead on the type of food and drinks you wish to consume before visiting open houses.

“Decide on the food and drinks you want to enjoy as this allows you to indulge mindfully without overdoing it,” she added.

For individuals with specific health conditions such as diabetes, it is crucial to be mindful of the sugar intake and opt for healthier alternatives.

“Moderation is key and consulting your healthcare professional for personalised dietary advice is recommended.

“Remember, celebrating Hari Raya is about enjoying the company of loved ones and creating cherished memories.

“By incorporating these tips into your festive celebrations, you can indulge in the culinary delights of the season while prioritising your health and well-being,” she said.

Former Health Ministry official and public health expert Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar advised the public to limit and reduce food with high salt, sugar and fat content. He said diabetics and those with high blood pressure should not overeat.

“Moderation should be practised and those with health issues must make sure not to skip their medication,” he said.

Senior dietician Ivy Cheah Hsiao Yong said although no food is off-limits during Hari Raya, one must keep nutritional balance in mind.

“During any festive season, everyone should enjoy the festive dishes, but a moderate intake should be practised and one must keep in mind about the portions.

“Always include a balanced portion of protein, carbohydrate and fibre like vegetables whenever possible,” she said.

Cheah also said those with diabetes need to limit intake of sugary beverages and sweet kuih.

“Opt for unsweetened beverages like water and tea, and choose fresh fruits to satisfy your sweet cravings. And when you do enjoy some sweet kuih raya, limit the amount consumed,” she said.

Cheah explained that short-term unhealthy eating will not cause any illness in particular but it can exacerbate a person’s condition if they already have an existing illness like diabetes or kidney disease.

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