From pineapple tarts to peanut cookies, Yu Sheng to shrimp rolls, we look forward to indulging in our favourite snacks and goodies every Chinese New Year. Without a doubt, one of the best things about festive seasons is the food. But when you are making the rounds to see your relatives and friends, it can be difficult to let go and enjoy yourself without feeling like you are sabotaging your healthy diet. While it is fine to indulge now and again, you would want to avoid indigestion or even worse, causing a burden to your body and kidneys.
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) of Malaysia provides you with a set of healthy eating tips to help you stay healthy throughout the celebration.
Use a Smaller Plate
It is always tempting to fill your plate with food, especially at an open house buffet party. But if you filled a huge plate at every house you visited over Chinese New Year, you would almost certainly end the holiday feeling uncomfortably full and bloated.
Instead, try to eat smaller portions at each house you visit. One way around this is to use a smaller plate. Did you know that using a larger plate actually tricks your brain into thinking portion sizes are smaller, which makes you more likely to eat more? Scientists call this the ‘Delboeuf Illusion’. Conversely, by filling a smaller plate, you can trick your brain into feeling satisfied with much less.
Balance between Rich and Healthy Snacks
Have a few delicious but healthy snacks in your cupboard such as:
• Nuts and seeds (eg. pistachios, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, melon seeds): High in fibre, protein and healthy fats, a handful of nuts or seeds can make for a nutritious snack, while fibre helps with satiety. Choose nuts that are roasted, baked or raw. Avoid nuts that are fried or coated in sugar, honey or salt.
• Fresh fruits: Fruits are packed with lots of healthy nutrients and can satisfy your sweet tooth.
It is easy to focus on the food that you eat and forget about what it is that you’re going to be drinking.
Sugary and carbonated drinks will only add extra calories to the diet, without other essential nutrients. A packet drink alone may already contain about 4 – 5 teaspoons of sugar (80 to 100 calories). For an average healthy adult, it is recommended not to exceed 11 teaspoons of sugar intake per day. This amount can be easily exceeded if sweetened beverages are consumed.
Your best option is still plain water which is free from calories. Alternatively, go for unsweetened beverages like green tea or oolong tea.
Walk or Cycle between your Visits
If you are heading to several locations in one day and they’re in close proximity to each other, why not burn some extra calories with a leisurely stroll or bicycle ride? A slow walk may be helpful to aid digestion. You can also create active opportunities to expend energy throughout the day, such as by climbing the stairs instead of taking the lift, or playing sports and physical games during gatherings.
The tips above are very basic and easy to apply. Healthy eating should be an integral part of our lifestyle and we should not feel burdened by it. Let us celebrate our life by taking good care of our health.