Without a doubt, Chinese New Year is one of the best times to enjoy non-stop feasting. There are tons of goodies like pineapple tarts and bakkwa for you to nibble on when you go visiting, and the default meal is a steamboat lunch or dinner. However, if you don’t watch what you eat, you might end up having to put in extra time at the gym because you put on more weight than expected. Jaclyn Reutens, clinical dietitian at Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants shares eight tips on how you can enjoy eating and drinking this festive season while still keeping your waistline intact.
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Load up on vegetables
Vegetables are rich in fibre, and will fill you up quickly so you have less room for snacks.
Control your portions
Whether it’s a breakfast, lunch or dinner feast, take a small serving of everything (no more than four goodies per house) and do not go back for second helpings.
Pick the right foods
When served by relatives, pick mandarin oranges instead of calorific Chinese New Year goodies. If your friends and family are having steamboat, go for the fresh ingredients instead of processed foods, and don’t slurp up all the soup, which is usually high in sodium, oil and fat.
Eat before visiting
Avoid visiting on an empty stomach, as you’d be more likely to overeat. Have a light breakfast, such as a slice of bread with a glass of milk, or a small bowl of cereal with yogurt. Drink at least 250ml of water before entering each house.
Make your calories count
Eat only what you think is appetising and limit yourself to no more than five small bites a day. Also, avoid sugary desserts like bubor cha cha and cheng tng. They tend to be highly sweetened and make you crave more sugary foods.
Load up on calorie-free drinks
Ask for plain water where possible to avoid liquid calories from saccharine drinks. Alternatively, opt for flavoured sparkling water, which is a little more interesting and won’t leave you feeling deprived. Or bring your own in case your hosts don’t offer unsweetened drinks.
Go light on soft drinks
Limit your intake of sugary drinks to fewer than two servings for the whole day. One serving is 200ml – a little less than one packet drink that’s 250ml. Better still, try and avoid them altogether. These drinks contain unnecessary calories and give you a sugar rush.
Sip in moderation
Limit alcoholic beverages to no more than two glasses a day. It’s best to start drinking after dinner, as that cuts down your time to drink. If you start earlier in the day, it’s likely that you will end up drinking more than two servings.
Text: Esther Au Yong and Estelle Low / Shape / February 2016