Reflecting on Ramadan and Malaysian’s Food Culture

Ramadhan is a blessed month of forgiveness and expiation of sins for Muslims.

Fasting from food, drinks and sexual intercourse is physically imposed from dawn to dusk, while abstinence of bad manners – of foul speech, improper gazing and argumentative fights are heavily enjoined so that one may attain righteousness.

Charity is in abundance, and night prayers are abound and peaks on the Night of Decree, with the Eid-ul Fitri celebration to conclude the struggles and success of Ramadan. Ramadan is truly a spiritually blessed month. 

Culturally, us here in Malaysia have an extra emphasis on the culture of foods – with the month-long packed and festive bazaar, the appearance of foods rarely found outside of Ramadan, the buffets and the iftar/sahur get together that brings togetherness and a sense of community. All in all, everything is good and fun for us.

However, these extravagance is unironically celebrated as much as the fasting itself. Unfortunately, with it comes food wastage, unhealthy food choices and a culture of gluttony. Foods are typically bought in excess, and surely some are thrown away. The minds on the other side are excessively distracted by the thoughts on food for some, which defeats some of the spiritual purpose of Ramadhan itself.

Unhealthy food is everywhere – though some may argue that we should let loose every now and then (which we do agree!) – but let’s be real – it’s a long-standing food culture that we have and we are not truly sincere in our attempt to ‘’let loose every now and then’’. That’s surely a thing that we have to think about!

As for excesses of food, always be mindful of yourself on how much you can actually eat. Yes, the hunger pangs can be intense and the foods can be oh-so delicious! But, a complete meal of rice, protein and vegetables – with water, some dates and 1-2 of kueh is enough to satisfy most of our appetite.

You can always force yourself to eat more, but perhaps a deterrence from feeling sluggish and bloated, along with more money spent is a good reason to hold yourself from eating more. Plus, one could and should make the most out of the excesses by providing it initially as charity giving – to those that need it more from your neighbourhood or pay-it-forward!

Stick to a complete meal, and it’s okay to have some 1-2 kueh – it’s a part of Ramadhan enjoyment that we cannot deny of – but only of that quantity! In the grand scheme of the day, those 2 kueh won’t hit much on your overall calorie counter – unless if you went uncontrolled for your moreh and sahur. Again, be mindful. Those kueh wouldn’t be too tempting should you able to have a good complete meal first.

Ramadhan is always about fasting first – and that is something that we have to reflect upon. So, what are your reflections upon food and fasting of Ramadhan?

 Prepared by Mohd. Siddeq Azha,
Diet Ideas Sdn. Bhd.

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