The festival of Eid-al-Fitr will fall on the 12th and 13th of May this year after the sighting of the crescent moon. On the 29th of Ramadan, the religious authorities in Malaysia conduct the sighting of the new moon to determine whether Hari Raya Aidilfitri will fall on the following day. Each year, the announcement of Eid will be made by the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal on national television.
The week before Eid is usually a very busy time for Muslims and preparation for the occasion only intensifies as the month of Ramadan comes to an end. In Malaysia, Muslims usually prepare the traditional dishes a day before Raya. On the day of Eid itself, Muslim Malaysians typically start the day by seeking forgiveness from family members, performing Eid prayer at home or the mosque and visiting the graves of passed loved ones.
In comparison to other Muslim countries or cultures, Eid-al-Fitr in Malaysia is seen as a month-long celebration and usually involves the popular Malaysian tradition of ‘open houses’. As celebrations may look different this year, here’s a guide on how to navigate a better and healthier Raya for the family:
Avoid going back for seconds
After an entire month of abstaining from eating and drink, many Muslims may take this time to celebrate with larger meals during the first week of Raya. There is no harm in indulging in the Raya delicacies as long as it is done in moderation.
A good health tip for Eid is to recognise when you are no longer hungry and to leave the dining table once you’re done with your meal. The aim should always be to reach the point of ‘no-longer-hungry’ as opposed to feeling full. As practised by Prophet Muhammad SAW, continue to eat in moderation during Eid and avoid only stopping once you are full.
Exercise portion control
Another Sunnah according to the Prophet Rasulullah SAW and a good way to avoid overeating and wastage is by exercising portion control. An easy way to practise portion control is by simply measuring out a meal using your hands. Each meal should include:
Protein such as chicken, fish or beans: a palm-sized portion for women or two palm-sized portions for men
Vegetables: a fist-sized portion for women or two fist-sized portions for men
Carbohydrates such as rice or starchy vegetables such as potatoes: a cupped hand portion for women or two portions for men
Fats such as oil or peanut sauce: a thumb-sized portion for women and two thumb-sized portions for men
You can also practice healthy eating by using small dinnerware and consciously choosing to sit closer to healthier options around the table to avoid the inclination to overindulge.
Blood glucose monitoring
For diabetics Muslims, the change in daily schedule from the fasting month to the month of Eid may have a large effect on the body. Any person with diabetes should take extra measures to closely monitor their blood glucose levels once Eid falls. Overeating sweet foods during Raya may drastically increase blood sugar levels in the body.
Keep note of the symptoms of Hyperglycemia (high blood glucose):
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
- Blurred vision
Signs of dehydration:
- Extreme thirst
- Dark-coloured urination
Do seek advice from a medical professional to obtain guidance on the readjustment of any diabetic medication following the end of Ramadan.
Eid food at home
Other than focusing more Raya activities in your own home, a good way to ensure the safety and health of the family is by avoiding eating out at restaurants or ordering in through food delivery companies. This also includes steering away from open houses and visiting relatives close by.
By making homemade meals, you and your family can use healthier ingredients, keep track of calories and salt intake and save money in the long run.
Plan for Eid prayer
Eid prayer is a significant and meaningful part of the Raya celebration in Malaysia. Muslims looking to perform the Eid prayer at the mosque are advised to keep up to date with the latest regulations and requirement as outlined for each state in the country.
If prayers are allowed in your local mosque, do remember to practise social distancing, register your details at the local masjid and ensure that you are in healthy condition before going to the mosque.
Increase exercise levels
After an entire month of reducing rigorous activities and exercise, the start of Eid is the best time to gain back your momentum for exercising. While it may be tempting to only focus on the Raya food and relaxation, you can also take the time to schedule some exercise or simply make an effort to keep moving. Eid celebrations tend to include many social obligations and if you are not able to start with a workout routine, you can keep active by walking more and keeping up with house chores.
Prioritise Your Health
Although food plays a major role in our Raya celebration, it’s important to focus on the true spirit of this religious holiday by spending time with family and appreciating the strength provided by the Almighty for the month before. In the long run, the health choices we make during Eid can be carried forward to the rest of the months and even help you prepare for a better Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr for the years to come.
- Brown, M. J. and (uk), R. D. (2018) 9 tips to measure and control portion sizes, Healthline.com. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/portion-control (Accessed: May 3, 2021).