We all are familiar with the inevitable weight gain that come with the celebration of our beloved festivals. It is difficult to resist the many mouthwatering delicacies, sweet treats, and glorious smells wafting from the kitchen. For the weight-conscious, how are you to stay on track during the festive period?
This task is perhaps even more difficult for those undergoing fasting during the month of Ramadan. Scientists say that the sudden access to heaving spreads of food may lead to overindulgence. In fact, because we think that we have fasted for the entire day and can afford to consume more food upon breaking of fast, we consequently consume more calories than we ordinarily would in a day.
How then, can we keep our waistline from growing? Firstly, we have to remind ourselves not to revel in the excuse that indulging is part of the festival celebrations and is thus completely justifiable, especially as it only comes by once a year. Instead, eating in moderation and portion control will keep you satisfied yet limit the damage made on your diet.
Nutrition Society of Malaysia (NSM) honorary secretary Prof Dr Norimah A. Karim remarked that many of us overindulge because we feel we need to compensate for the previously missed meals. However, this is not the case. We should stop when we are nicely satiated, and not only when we are full to the point of bursting. Eating in moderation is a good rule to abide by, if we wish to avoid excessive weight gain.
To achieve eating in moderation, here are some good practices to take up:
1. Be mindful of calories
Keep in mind how many calories each festive treat contains, so you don’t underestimate how much you are actually consuming.
Kueh Bangkit (1 piece)
Kueh Bahulu (1 piece)
Kueh Makmur (1 piece)
Kueh Tart (1 piece)
Kueh Lapis (1 piece)
2. Adapt recipes for your own benefit
Cut calories by making healthier substitutions that won’t compromise on taste, such as using lean cuts of chicken in your chicken rendang, or replacing white rice with brown rice. Also, reduce the amount of sugar used when baking festive treats yourself. You would be surprised at how you would not be able to taste much difference, even when the amount of sugar was cut by a quarter.
3. Drink up
And by that, we mean water. Water helps flush out toxins, keeps you hydrated, and boost energy levels, and curb cravings.
4. Limit sugary drinks
You would be surprised at how many calories you can cut out by refusing sweet drinks. If you drink a 250ml cup of bandung (150 calories) for lunch and a cup of iced green tea for dinner (69 calories), that is an extra 20 minutes of running you have to do to burn it off.
5. Chew slowly
Scientists say that slow eaters eat 201 fewer calories a day since it takes 20 minutes for your brain to realise you have had enough. You are more likely to savour and enjoy your food, and feel satisfied with a smaller portion than you thought you needed.
We said not to give yourself excuses, not to tell yourself “this festive period only comes by once a year” thereby allowing yourself to eat as much as you want. Then again, this festive period only comes by once a year. It is an opportunity to foster quality relationships with family and friends, often over tables loaded with amazing delicacies. Seek a balance between overindulgence and complete restriction – the former will fill you with regret when you step on the weighing scale post-festival season, while the latter will cause you complete misery during the festive season. It’s a fine line to thread, and fretting is never fun. Just follow our guidelines, do not be too harsh on yourself but allow yourself some leeway, and have fun!
Selamat Hari Raya to all our friends! Make this year a healthier Hari Raya!
Cover photo: Gayatravel