Healthy Eating Habits During CNY

Chinese New Year (CNY) is around the corner, we can’t wait for those fun-filled gatherings and ‘Angpaos’! There will be plenty of snacks and food as well. However, have you considered to watch your calorie intake this festive season?

Below are several snacks which are part of my personal ‘must-eat’ list during CNY. The table below reveals the amount of sugar and calories intake of a few popular snacks 1,2

CNY Snacks

Amount of Sugar (g)

Amount of Calories per Serving

Nian Gao

17 (1 piece)

482

Bak Kwa

32 (1 piece)

179

Mini Dried Shrimp Rolls

2 (45g packet)

22

Pineapple Tarts

6 (1 cookie)

82

Kuih Bahulu

4 (1 piece)

40

Kuih Bangkit

1 (1 piece)

23

Kuih Kapit

5 (1 piece)

112

Wait?! How many calories am I putting on…?

To put things into perspective, 3 pineapple tarts is approximately 300 calories which is equivalent to a bowl of rice plus 5 teaspoons of sugar! Brisk walking for 100 minutes is needed to burn just one piece of Bak Kwa you consumed. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is recommended not to exceed 2000 calories a day. 2

How do I control my calorie intake?

Being disciplined to control your food cravings can be tough. Here are a few helpful tips that you can consider to maintain a healthy diet this CNY:

  1. Limit your food intake by using a small plate. Take food with an appropriate portion at around 70-80% full to prevent over-eating. 
  2. Before visiting friends or relatives’ houses, take some light meals, healthy snacks such as fruits or yoghurt so that you can suppress your snack cravings.
  3. Try to choose healthier snack options, i.e.:
    1. Sunflower seeds: They are enriched with thiamine, phosphorus, Vitamin E & B, copper and many more nutrients. 3
    2. Mandarin oranges: Another good choice because of its high Vitamin C content. 
    3. Nut based snacks: They are generally low in sugar, sodium and saturated fat.

How do I prepare healthier food options this CNY?

  1. “Lou Sang” is one of the most popular traditional food during CNY. Not many are aware that its calorie content is actually very high. Try modifying the ingredients by adding in some vegetables, fruits, nuts, smoked salmon and raisins and reduce the dressings and oil.
  2. Prepare low-sugar homemade chrysanthemum tea, iced lemon tea or flower tea. It will impress your guests and are a much healthier choice compared to canned drinks. Replacement sugar such as stevia and “Lakanto” can be added into your drink as they have little to zero calories and will not increase your blood sugar. Alcohol should be avoided as it can increase blood pressure. 
  3. If your family loves having hotpot steamboat, try using soy or vegetable-based soups rather than using processed flavouring packs. Increase the nutritional value of the steamboat by adding in more lean meat and vegetables instead of processed food like fish-balls and meatballs. 
  4. Prepare a fish dish since fish is high in Omega 3 and protein. It also compliments the Chinese idiom nián nián yôu yú (年年有余). 
  5. For Bak Kwa lovers, you can try to grill chicken breast with barbeque sauce. This provides an adequate intake of protein, and at the same time you do not miss out on your beloved barbeque flavour!

Lastly, start the Chinese New Year by staying healthy and happy!

Instead of saying “it’s just once a year” and then start feeling guilty when CNY is over, let’s practise self-discipline on the choices of the food we eat and make this holiday a more fruitful and meaningful season. Less sugar and salt doesn’t mean food becomes tasteless. Picking and eating wisely can also be a tantalising way to eat your way through CNY! Always remember that setting a diet goal and sticking to it will lead you to a desirable healthy lifestyle. Last but not least, Gong Xi Fa Cai and we at Caring Pharmacy would like to wish you and your family a healthy and happy Chinese New Year!

 

References:

    1. Sweetening Your CNY without the Added Sugar. Ministry of Health Singapore. (Web accessed January 2020). Web link: https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/896/sweetening-your-cny-without-the-added-sugar
    2. A Dietitian’s 7 Tips to Stay Healthy & Slim During Chinese New Year. Mouth Elizabeth Hospital. (Web accessed January 2020). Web link: https://www.mountelizabeth.com.sg/healthplus/article/7-tips-to-stay-slim-and-healthy-chinese-new-year

    3. 5 Effortlessly Healthy Snacks for Eating Well this Chinese New Year. GetDoc. (Web accessed January 2020). Web link: https://www.getdoc.com/chinese-new-year-healthy-snacks/

    4. Make a Healthier Choice Today. Ministry of Health Singapore. (Web accessed January 2020). Web link: https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/211/make_healthier_choice