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Healthy Festive Eating

Tips to Guilt-free Indulgence during the Chinese New Year Celebration


People tend to indulge in a lot of calorie-rich food during Chinese New Year. While the amount of weight one can put on varies according to individuals, it’s easier to consume more calories than we need during Chinese New Year, leading to weight gain if calories are not burnt off through exercise.

Healthy eating is not about total abstinence from food. One can still consume all types of food in moderation, taking into consideration portion sizes. For example, instead of having the whole slice of Bak Kwa, try sharing it with a relative and halve the calories you consume.

To overcome the immediate gastric discomfort from over-eating, avoid fried foods, strong tea, coffee or alcohol, as these can cause further irritation. Over the next few days, you do not have to skip meals to make up for the extra food consumed. Instead, have regular meals and keep portions small. Also, balance your food intake with physical activity. You can increase physical activity simply by building it into your daily routine. For example, taking the stairs burns five times more calories than using the lift.

Tips for the Hosts and Guests Alike

For the Host

Before the party, make sure to provide healthy snacks. Substitute some of the usual tidbits with raw almonds, sunflower seeds or other nuts (avoid honey-roasted/sugar-coated or salted varieties). If you do serve tidbits that are high in calories like pineapple tarts, put only a few out on a serving tray and keep the rest away. Guests are unlikely to eat what they don’t see. When serving carbohydrates, opt for wholegrain options. Mix brown rice with white rice for a healthier and more filling option. Serve plain rice over fried rice, as your dishes are likely to be rich and flavourful enough already. Serve more vegetables. Make sure one out of four dishes are vegetable based. Serve less fatty/oily meats. Trim off excess fat before cooking or serving meat. Steam, grill, bake, boil, microwave or stir fry in very little oil instead of frying. For desserts, provide healthier options. Provide fresh fruit, serve smaller portions of dessert and serve sauces separately. Provide sherbets instead of ice cream. For beverages, instead of sugar-sweetened carbonated drinks, provide unsweetened 100% fruit juice or sparkling water. If you want sugar-sweetened beverages, choose those with the Healthier Choice Symbol as they have less sugar. Serve tea and coffee with low fat milk instead of creamer.

For the Guests

Focus on quality of food, not on quantity. You don’t have to eat some of everything. Peruse the table and choose three to five dishes that are the most appealing. Take smaller portions of them since they are likely rich and more calorie-laden than the foods you are used to. Enjoy your favourites and skip the rest. Don’t go back for second helpings. Decide at the beginning how much you want to eat, fill your plate once and do not go back. Go for plain water instead of sweetened/carbonated drinks. Alternate non-alcoholic drinks with alcoholic ones and sip instead of gulp. Add ice to dilute your drink.

Healthier Alternatives

Do offer healthier food swaps/alternatives for each food item.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Substitute some of the usual tidbits with raw almonds, sunflower seeds or other nuts (avoid honey-roasted/sugar-coated or salted varieties).

2. Steam Nian Gao instead of deep-frying it with batter.

3. Choose beverages with the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) as HCS products are about 25% lower in sugar compared to other drinks without the HCS.

4. If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. Try mixing fruit juice and sparkling water with some alcoholic beverages, e.g. white wine.

5. Alcohol is calorie dense, containing 7kcal per gram as compared to 4 kcal per gram of carbohydrate or protein. The extra calories from drinking may also eventually lead to weight gain. For example, four cans of beer would provide the same amount of calories as a plate of chicken rice.

by The Health Promotion Board

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Posted by ezyhealth on Feb 7 2013. Filed under Lifestyle. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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