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We all look forward to Chinese New Year. But if you want to keep your waistline in check you need to remain sensible while you celebrate. Here are some top tips for enjoying this joyous festival while avoiding sneaky kilo creep!

Yee Sang - A Traditional Southeast Asian Chinese dish for Chinese New Year

Do people often gain weight over the holiday period?

Yes. Chinese New Year, just like Christmas, is one of those rare occasions when calories are suddenly non-existent in our vocabulary!

A survey posted in January 2012 by the popular micro-blogging site Sina Weibo showed that 70% of the 5,000 participants became fatter due to recent food binging.

What are the most calorific foods that are consumed at Chinese New Year celebrations?

Pineapple tarts

According to Nutrient Composition of Malaysian Foods, 1 piece of pineapple tart weighs 5g and contains 23 calories. Not much, you say. However, people cannot stop themselves from consuming 5 to 8 pieces as they are very tasty! A total of 8 pieces contains 184 calories, which is high.

Nian gao

This steamed Chinese New Year cake is made with glutinous rice flour, brown sugar and water. According to Singapore Food Facts, 1 whole nian gao weighs 423g and contains 976 calories, which is almost a whole day’s worth of energy.

Deep fried prawn rolls

These are small and each piece is low in calories. But, like pineapple tarts, it’s hard not to eat 8 to 10 pieces at once.

Barbecued bak kwa (pork slices)

According to Singapore Food Facts, 1 slice of barbecued slice pork weighs 57g and contains 228 calories. As we normally consume at least 2 slices, those calories add up to 456!

Love letters (kuih kapit)

According to Nutrient Composition of Malaysian Foods, 1 piece is made from sugar, egg and flour, weighs 4g and contains 17 calories. That means 8 pieces contains a total of 136 calories.

Besides traditional foods and pastries, we tend to consume soft drink, alcohol and other sweetened drinks during Chinese New Year. These types of beverages are always high in sugar and calories.

What are your top recommendations at this time?

Chinese New Year is a joyous Chinese festival. However, Chinese New Year food is usually sweet, oily or deep fried.

Over-eating is not good for your health. I tell people to try to restrict themselves from over consuming, because losing weight is much harder than gaining it. Staying healthy is as important as enjoying the festivities.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Eating too many Chinese New Year snacks such as bak kwa, nian gao and pineapple tart will affect your health. Refrain from buying and eating too much unhealthy food during Chinese New Year.
  • Serve yourself, your family and visitors healthy snacks such as dried apricots, prunes, apples and raisins rather than high sugar snacks such as candies, sweetened lotus seed and chocolates.
  • Water plays an important role in promoting weight loss. Serve yourself more plain water than other soft drink or sweetened drink.
  • Eating a late dinner or supper is a bad habit. Researchers found that the time of day you eat is a powerful predictor for weight gain. They also warn that a late dinner can start a vicious cycle of weight gain due to an increased total calorie intake per day. Therefore, try to finish dinner no later than 7.30pm.
  • I don’t recommend deep-frying because it wastes lots of oil. And oily foods burden your stomach and accumulated excess fats are stored in your body. Boiling, steaming, broiling, baking, grilling and stir-frying are my preferred cooking techniques as they use little or no oil and retain the original flavour and taste of the food. You can also add healthy spices and herbs such as basil, cloves, cumin seeds, dill, ginger, oregano, parsley, peppermint, rosemary and turmeric to enhance the aroma and taste.
  • Exercise plays an important role in promoting weight loss and maintaining wellbeing. Just 30 minutes of simple exercise such as walking or jogging during Chinese New Year burns off extra calories and makes it more likely you’ll start the Year of the Snake feeling fit, slim and happy.

So there you have it. You can enjoy a great Chinese New Year holiday season while staying healthy and fit. Here’s wishing everyone a Happy & Healthy Chinese New Year!


Staying Healthy & Fit In Chinese New Year
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