SINGAPORE - A public education campaign to promote healthy eating and lifestyle habits in the Malay/Muslim community was launched on Sunday (April 11) ahead of the fasting month of Ramadan, which starts on Tuesday.
During the two-month long campaign, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) will encourage the community to consume less sugar and choose healthier food options during Ramadan and Hari Raya Puasa, which falls on May 13.
HPB said it will amplify the message of "Kita Dah Cukup Manis, Kurangkan OK?" ("We are sweet enough, Reduce it OK?") both online and offline.
It will also collaborate with its community partners to encourage people to quit smoking.
On Sunday, Parliamentary Secretary for Health Rahayu Mahzam kicked off the campaign by noting the community's resilience in overcoming the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"We have come to realise during the pandemic that the things that are important to us are family and health.
"This Ramadan and Hari Raya period is a time for reflection, a time for celebration and a time for being with family. I hope we can work together towards creating healthier habits.
"This is something I hope the Malay/Muslim community will embrace," she said at an event held at The Malayan Council restaurant in Bussorah Street.
Earlier this year, Ms Rahayu noted that the overall percentage of Malays with diabetes had, over a three-year period, increased from 11.6 per cent to 14.4 per cent in 2020.
During the campaign, HPB will also reach out to the community via mainstream and social media.
There will be virtual talks as well, by former smokers working in partnership with Malay/Muslim organisations and mosques.
The ex-smokers will share their experience and provide tips on steps that can be taken to achieve a smoke-free lifestyle and the role family members can play to build a supportive environment.
Smokers looking to kick the habit can sign up for the I Quit 28-Day Countdown programme via this website.
HPB will also be collaborating with Tabung Amal Aidilfitri Trust Fund and M3 @ Towns in Jurong, Pasir Ris, Tampines and Woodlands to distribute lower-sugar drinks, brown rice, brown rice vermicelli, healthier oil and healthier snacks as part of grocery packs.
These packs will be given to about 5,500 households during Ramadan.
Health ambassadors will also be deployed at community events in Bukit Batok East Community Club to encourage the community to sign up for functional screening, smoking cessation programmes, mental wellness talks and physical activities.
More information is available on the Korang Ok Facebook page.
Tips for healthy living
From breaking fast by drinking water instead of sugary drinks to opting for wholegrain foods, here are some healthier options:
1. When breaking fast, start by drinking water to rehydrate. This will also reduce the likelihood of over-indulging when eating.
2. Opt for reduced-sugar home-made beverages such as 'kopi kosong' (coffee with no sugar) or 'teh kurang manis' (tea that is less sweet). Despite having reduced sugar, these too should be consumed in moderation.
3. When eating before the start of the fast, opt for wholegrain foods, such as brown rice and wholemeal bread, as these can fill up the stomach for a longer period. Fruits and vegetables which are rich in fibre are also essential during fasting.
4. Meals consumed when breaking fast should be well-balanced and nutritious, covering all major food groups: fruits and vegetables, brown rice and wholemeal bread, as well as meat and others (such as dairy).
5. Despite being an excellent source of energy, dates, which are traditionally eaten when breaking fast, should be consumed in moderation as they are high in sugar.
6. When cooking at home, swop regular products with those that carry the Healthier Choice symbol. These are typically lower in saturated fat, sugar and sodium.
7. Use herbs and spices for flavour instead of salt, sauces and seasoning.
8. When preparing rice dishes, mix 20 per cent of brown rice with white rice. Consuming a diet rich in wholegrains, such as brown rice, may lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
9. Use healthier cooking methods such as steaming, grilling, stewing, roasting or stir-frying instead of deep-frying.
10. Swop high-calorie foods such as deep-fried dishes and items containing curry and gravy with lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups and wholegrains. These foods are higher in fibre and water content, which may keep the stomach full for longer.