Survival Guide to the Festive Season

Have that uncomfortable, bloated feeling from having eaten too much? Does heartburn seem all too familiar to you? You’re probably wishing you’d skipped on the last few pieces of Bak Kwa.

While Chinese New Year is that time of year for most of us indulge in our favourite festive foods, many of us are unaware of the nutritional value of goodies such as Pineapple Tarts or Love Letters. Below is the approximate calorie content for some of our Chinese New Year Favourites:

Bak Kwa (1 slice): 350-400 kcal, 60% saturated fats
Nian Gao (steamed): 110kcal
Nian Gao (fried): 220kcal
Pineapple Tarts (1 piece): 80kcal
Lo Hei (small plate): 100kcal
Love Letters (1 piece): 20kcal
Mini Prawn Rolls (10 pieces): 200kcal

You can see how easy it is to overindulge without even meaning to. The high fat and sugar content of these foods are a contributing factor to that feeling of bloatedness or overindulgence.

Here are some tips to avoid overindulgence during this festive period:

Don’t Skip Meals

Eat three healthy meals a day and do not substitute meals for treats and snacks.

Avoid Sugary Drinks

Substitute them for Water, Chinese Tea or Diet Drinks instead.

Don’t Leave Home Hungry

Having a Banana will take the edge off your hunger, and put your mind, not your stomach, in control. Citrus fruits are a great snack item and filler too.

Limit Your Serving Size

Put your food on a small plate and walk away from the serving table. Keep track of what you eat. You can try a little of everything, but try to include more baked and steamed items. Stop and think before you go back for more.

Don’t Stay Idle!

Don’t lie down immediately after a heavy meal. Wait an hour and go for a walk if possible. It’s easy to forget to exercise during the holiday rush, but walk wherever and whenever you can. A useful gift for family members and friends would be a Pedometer, which measures the number of steps you take in a day. You can even make a competition out of it!

Alcohol in Moderation

Alcoholic drinks have high calorie content. Liquors such as Kahlua contain about 450 kcal, a small glass of wine (100ml) about 80 kcal and cocktails around 150 to 180 kcal. People also tend to eat high calorie snacks when drinking. If possible, dilute your drinks with club soda, sip them slowly and go easy the snacks. Save money, calories and also your dignity.

Dangers of Eating Raw Fish

Eating raw fish can rarely cause parasitic infections. Experts recommend not eating freshwater fish raw. Cooking fish thoroughly destroys any fish tapeworm larvae (eggs). Saltwater fish is safer to eat. Salting, smoking, curing and freezing also destroy any larvae present.

This article is written by Dr. Aryan Koura, Senior Consultant, Department of General Surgery.