Chinese New Year is one of the biggest celebrations in Singapore. It is the time of lion and dragon dances, spectacular fireworks display and decors, family gatherings, visiting friends and relatives, giving red envelopes, and indulging in new year food! While we enjoy all the revelries, here are some tips to help us stay healthy despite all the holiday temptations.
Do not visit with an empty stomach
Before you leave your house make sure you eat a good breakfast. Eating a healthy breakfast sets the tone for the rest of your day. If you start your day off with a glutinous rice cake or pineapple tart, you can trigger a relentless sweet tooth the rest of the day. Don’t skip breakfast either as it will leave you to likely overeat later because you’ll be starving. Eat something that has lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and some healthy fat to give you energy and keep you satisfied until your next meal. This will give your day off to a good start when visiting your family, relatives and friends for the new year celebrations.
Watch your portions
What is new year without eating some of those popular Chinese New Year snacks?
But before you binge on these mouth watering treats, be informed of how much calories you are taking in every time you eat any of these:
- Nian Gao – 482 calories per serving
- Bak Kwa – 179 calories per slice
- Kueh Lapis – 157 calories per piece
- Love Letter – 112 calories per piece
- Cornflake Cookie – 82.8 calories per piece
- Pineapple Tart - 82 calories per piece
- Peanut & Almond Cookie – 72 calories per piece
- Green Pea Cookie – 53.33 calories per piece
- Sugee Cookie – 53 calories per piece
- Kueh Bahulu -40 calories per piece
- Kueh Bangkit – 23 calories per piece
- Mini Dried Shrimp Spring Roll – 22 calories per piece
Drink lots of water or tea
It's easy to confuse thirst with hunger, leading to mindless snacking that never satiates. If you are not a big fan of the “boring taste” of water, try drinking tea. You can also add ginger or lemon for the extra detoxification.
Provide healthier alternatives for your guests
When you are hosting gatherings, you can replace the traditional snacks usually served during Chinese New Year to these healthier alternatives:
- Angel Food Cake instead of Kueh Lapis
- Steamed Vegetarian Dumplings instead of Fried Pork Dumplings
- Steamed Nian Gao instead of Fried Nian Gao
- Classic Shrimp Cocktails instead of Dried Shrimp Rolls
Take the focus off food and drinks
A way to minimize unmindful eating is to keep yourself busy during the celebrations. Work on a project that will have lasting meaning to remember the occasion by, e.g. taking and organizing the family photos.
You don’t have to buy fancy and expensive tools to get this done. Thanks to our mobile devices and the editing apps that come with them, we can now take high quality photos and edit them with ease. Here are some simple ideas to help you take better photos on your phone:
- Use gridlines to balance your shot
- Use negative space
- Find different perspectives
- Make your subjects laugh
- Take candid shots
Get enough sleep
Between holiday traveling, spring cleaning, family gatherings and all that grocery shopping, it can be easy to skimp on sleep to get your to-do list done. But getting six to nine hours of sleep every night helps regulate hormones, promotes recovery from workouts, prevents daily fatigue and most importantly, prevents you from overeating. Based on research, scientists have concluded that lack of sleep triggers an increase in blood levels of a chemical that causes people to overeat and gorge more on sweet and salty high-fat snack foods.
Stress activates your adrenal glands to release cortisol, increasing your appetite. Furthermore, researchers concluded that stress leads women to burn about 100 fewer calories per day — a difference that could cause you to pack on about 5 kg in a year. With that in mind, here are some ways to keep your stress in check:
- Breathe deeply
- Unplug, step away from the screen
- Go for a 15-minute walk, practice yoga or meditate
image credit: Lyaya Singapore
Be easy on yourself
The holidays break your routine. Not only that, sometimes, you’re forced to spend time with family you rarely see and don’t always get along with. Or maybe you’re alone when everyone else is with family. When you skip a workout, eat unhealthy food, doesn’t want to socialize with family, or feel sad and alone, it doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you human. Don’t beat yourself up. Ease back into your routine gently and focus on the small steps to get yourself back on track. Sit out one of the holiday gatherings in favor of some personal time. Connect with a friend if you can, do something creative no matter how simple or help someone in need.
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