The Jakarta Post
It is traditional during Idul Fitri festivities, locally known as Lebaran, to serve certain dishes, snacks and beverages, most of which contain large amounts of sugar and fat and feature few vegetables. At the same time, fasting can create sudden increases in appetite, which can lead to digestive or other serious illnesses, like high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.
Ai, a resident of Pondok Ungu in Bekasi, said her cholesterol level had jumped to 280 mg/dL two days after Idul Fitri, mostly caused by eating too much coconut milk-based food, such as opor ayam (chicken curry), sambal goreng ati (spicy beef liver) and semur daging (stewed meat), and drinking too much syrup.
'My normal level is 180 mg/dL. Of course, I couldn't avoid eating [the Idul Fitri dishes]. It's a tradition,' said the 37-year-old housewife, adding that she had gained 3 kilograms over the course of the holiday.
Special Lebaran dishes also caused the blood glucose levels of Asep, a 42-year-old resident of Bogor, to rise. 'I've eaten too much opor ayam and snacks since the day before Idul Fitri, because those were the only dishes my wife served,' he said.
Retailer Carrefour Indonesia spokesman Satria Hamid said that sales of food and beverages had jumped during Ramadhan, with sales of sweet snacks and bottled syrup seeing the biggest increases.
'Demand [for sweet snacks and syrup] prior to Idul Fitri increased by 10 percent compared with regular days,' Satria said.
According to Siloam Hospital dietitian Samuel Oetoro, it is common for people to suffer relapses of chronic diseases after overindulging in dishes heavy in coconut milk and sugar during Idul Fitri.
'After a month of fasting, people feel entitled to eat more than they do on regular days. Those who have diabetes and high cholesterol are prone to see these diseases relapse,' Samuel told The Jakarta Post.
The tradition of eating unhealthy dishes, he said, was largely harmless for those unafflicted by such diseases, as long as they subsequently reverted to healthy diets and exercised regularly.
'If they consume those unhealthy dishes for only two or three days, no problem. But if they continue consuming them, it will endanger their health,' he said.
Samuel added patients frequently asked him why they were unable to lose weight after the fasting month. 'They usually lose 1 to 2 kilograms a month. But the Idul Fitri celebrations cause them to lose control of their appetite,' he added.
Another Bekasi resident, Neni, 42, also saw her blood pressure shoot up to 140/80mm Hg from the normal 120/80mm Hg after Idul Fitri, a result not only of the dishes she consumed but also of the activities with which she was encumbered.
'My housemaid went home, leaving mountains of dirty clothes and household chores. I had to do it all myself as no laundries are open during Idul Fitri,' complained the mother of three children aged 4, 5 and 8.
To stay fit and healthy during and after Idul Fitri, Samuel said he suggested avoiding excessive eating and limiting consumption of sugary snacks and beverages.
'We can balance consumption by consuming fruit and vegetables before eating main courses as they are rich in fiber, which can help the body's digestion,' he said.
Many complain of constipation caused by the reduced intake of vegetables during the holiday.
Samuel said he also recommended drinking plenty of water instead of soft drinks and syrup-based beverages. (foy)
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