Tips on General Nutrition

Chinese New Year feasting? Not quite over

The Chinese New Year (CNY) celebrations typically last for a full 15 days. Just as you think you survived the first few days of CNY holidays and your stomach is taking a break from the endless flow of pastries, nuts and soft drinks, the weekend is here and the same house visit ritual begins again! 

Not to mention, your colleagues have brought some of the goodies to the work place and the temptation cycle begins. So how do you keep your holiday spirit high but your waistline low? It is not too late to follow the below tips:

Nutritional Content of Popular Goodies

  • Bak Kwa (1 piece, 57g)- contains 229kcal, 8g fat, 24g sugar with 15g protein
  • Pineapple tarts (2 pieces, 40g) - 163kcal, 7g fat & 12g sugar
  • Love Letter (4 rolls, 52g) - 224kcal , 6g fat & 19g sugar
  • Shrimp Roll (10 pieces, 45g) - 227kcal ,14g fat & 0g sugar
  • Kueh bangkit (6 pieces, 36g) - 137kcal,4 fat & 8g sugar
  • Beehive cookie/ kueh ros (3 pieces, 30g) - 150kcal, 7g fat & 9g sugar
  • Nian gao (1/4 portion, 106g) - 245kcal, 0.5g fat & 37g sugar

Thus, let's have a look at the accumulative intake of a typical variety of goodies that may happen during each house visit!

2 pineapple tarts + 10 shrimp rolls + 1 Bak Kwa + 6 Kueh bangkit + 4 love letters
799kcal, 29g fat & 63g sugar

This is actually comparable to a plate of chicken rice that contains 700kcal & 26g fat!

Tips

  1. Avoid making a visit on an empty stomach, instead, fill yourself up on the healthier and lower calorie containing foods/drinks
  2. When you are hungry, you may tend to eat without self-control and the festive goodies, such as those above, and are typically calorie-dense made with lots of oils/cream/butter/sugar. You can try to avoid this lack of self-control by first filling up on healthy fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole-grains or healthy calcium-rich low fat milk before making a house visit or hitting off to the goodies-filled table.

  3. Know your trigger food, ration them out or avoid them totally
  4. Some crave sugar while others crave salty foods. There must be some or at least 1 specific food(s) that you crave and once you start, you just cannot seem to stop. You might want to try out rationing first. By eating small portions, you are less likely to overeat.

    However, if you really find your trigger foods too hard to resist, it is then advisable to avoid them because they can potentially spark overeating. If you know that you will have difficulty eating just 3-4 pineapple tarts for example, you may want to choose to eliminate them altogether to avoid overeating.

  5. Practice eating and drinking consciously, slowly and wisely
  6. It is the unconscious nibbling and sipping that can really add up to your calorie intake. It is easy to lose track of how many goodies and glasses of alcohol/soft drink/sweet beverage/cordial you are consuming at a house visit. It is always helpful to stay aware of what, when and why you are eating/drinking. Before you reach for another goodie on the table, ask yourself, "Am I hungry or am I eating because the food is just in front of me?"

    Chewing your food and eating slowly allows you to savour your food. It also allows your stomach the time it needs to digest and for you to feel full, hence preventing overeating.

    Too much alcohol can also give you a burning headache the next morning. Do you also know that alcohol only provides empty calories that can contribute significantly to your calorie intake? Soft drinks, sweet beverages and cordials also provide empty calories. You can wisely reduce the calorie damage by choosing water (zero calories; filling up on water also fills up your stomach and prevents overeating), "light" beers, diet soft drinks and "no sugar added" or "less sugar" beverages or add extra ice to limit volume intake whilst diluting them down.

The writer is a Dietition at Department of Nurition and Dietetics, Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

This article is originally published in Yahoo Singapore Fit To Post Health Blog.