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Aaron Sta Maria
Written by Aaron Sta Maria

Reviewed by Dr Jessica Gunawan

3 Ways to Indulge in Moderation During Hari Raya Haji

Hari Raya Haji involves a reunion over delicious food. However, eating uncontrollably during the festivities can bring about a variety of health concerns.

People looking at each other smilingly as they gather at a dining table to eat together

Moderation is key. This statement rings true in all aspects of life. However, a delicious spread of food during Hari Raya Haji may throw your sense of control out of the window. Doing so will make you vulnerable to weight gain, especially if you consume too many fatty or sugary foods. Over time, it can put you at risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, or even gallbladder and fatty liver diseases. 

As such, it is necessary to take steps that keep your weight within a healthy range. Here are a few ways to do so effectively.

A glass of pandan leaf extract displayed with a bowl of eggs and other ingredients on a wooden table
Pandan leaf extract is a healthier option than artificial colourings.

How to Stay Disciplined with Weight Management During Hari Raya Haji 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), fat is perceived as the accumulation of pathogens like phlegm and internal Dampness. A lack of physical activity impairs the circulation of blood and qi (vital life force) and aggravates the occurrence of Dampness. Over time, it can lead to water retention and a flabby or bloated body.

Change what and how much you eat  

Healthy eating is not just about reducing portion size or resisting the urge to take a second helping. On the contrary, it starts during food preparation and involves using less of certain ingredients or substituting them with healthier options. 

Oily and sugary foods provoke a build-up of Heat and phlegm in the body. Raw and chilled foods will give rise to fluid stagnation, creating more phlegm. Together, these can disrupt Spleen functions. In addition, gobbling up food will make you prone to slow metabolism and digestive disorders.

Examples of how you can eat healthier include: 

  • Removing excess oil in curry, sambal tumis, and goreng berlada dishes 
  • Removing the skin and trimming the fat off chicken meat 
  • Using half the suggested amount of coconut milk, low-fat milk, or yoghurt for curry, rendang, lontong, or lodeh dishes 
  • Using half the amount of sugar, oil, and cooking fat recommended in recipes  
  • Substituting artificial colouring for natural alternatives such as pandan leaf extract or juice or beetroot when making cookies, cakes, or puddings 

TCM believes in choosing foods to include on your plate according to your body constitution. Doing so will help you achieve yin (passive energy) and yang (active energy) equilibrium.

A cup of tea brewed with hawthorn berries displayed with fresh and dried options of the fruit on a wooden table
Hawthorn berry consumption promotes digestive fluid secretion and a breakdown of fatty substances.

Keep the digestive train moving  

The Spleen is responsible for transforming and transporting nutrients and body fluids throughout the body. Simply put, it can prevent the retention of body fluids and pile-up of metabolic waste. Metabolic waste describes the by-products of metabolism – chemical reactions that provide energy for normal body functions – such as water, salts, carbon dioxide, phosphates, sulphates and nitrogen compounds.

Herbal ingredients that enhance the Spleen’s functional abilities are Codonopsis (dang shen, 党参), liquorice (gan cao, 甘草), Chinese yam (huai shan, 淮山), Coix barley (yi yi ren, 薏苡仁) and Poria (fu ling, 茯苓). 

You can encourage the urination of excess fluid by consuming red bean (hong dou, 红豆), Inula flower (xuan fu hua, 旋覆花), plantain seeds (che qian zi, 车前子), rice beans (chi xiao dou, 赤小豆), Senna leaves (fan xie ye, 番泻叶), and white atractylodes (bai zhu, 白术). Herbs like black sesame (hei zhi ma, 黑芝麻), peach seeds (tao ren, 桃仁), biota seeds (bai zi ren, 柏子仁) and rhubarb (da huang, 大黄) can aid constipation by relaxing the bowels. 

Improving your digestion can also help maintain weight during Hari Raya Haji. The consumption of hawthorn berry (shan zha, 山楂), tangerine peel (chen pi, 陈皮), Rangoon creeper fruit (shi jun zi, 使君子), radish seeds (lai fu zi, 莱菔子), and unripe oranges (zhi shi, 枳实) can achieve this objective by stimulating the secretion of digestive fluids and breaking down of fatty substances.

The longer you stay full, the less you eat 

Consuming vinegar – the diluted form of acetic acid – before a meal can help you feel satiated for longer. Like apple cider, vinegar is a natural appetite suppressant. It does this by delaying the release of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, increased feelings of fullness and makes the brain feel rewarded.

Seven short-term studies that investigated the effect of vinegar on satiety found that it suppressed appetite up to two hours after a full meal and three hours if the participants ate whenever they wanted or needed to.

However, the acidic nature of vinegar may irritate the stomach and oesophagus. It can also release calcium from the bones and damages tooth enamel. It’s advisable to only consume tolerable amounts of the condiment.

It is completely normal to have the desire to indulge during Hari Raya Haji. Take comfort in knowing that adhering to this guide will help you avoid overeating while supporting bowel movement and waste excretion. If you intend to use herbal ingredients, do speak to a licensed TCM practitioner beforehand.

Have a blessed Hari Raya Haji! 

References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. Which is Worse for You: Fat or Sugar? [online] [Accessed 15 June 2022] 
  2. UM SPECIALIST CENTRE. The Good Raya: How to Eat Right. [online] [Accessed 15 June 2022]
  3. American Society for Nutrition. 2022. The Effects of Vinegar/Acetic Acid Intake on Appetite Measures and Energy Consumption: A Systematic Literature Review. [online] [Accessed 15 June 2022]

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