1. Portion Control
It’s tradition that Chinese households stock up on lots of goodies for visitors as it symbolises wealth and prosperity…however this also tends to mean lots of snacking for you!
Obviously you don’t want to be rude during the festive season, so it’s best to use a bowl and chopsticks instead of a plate with a fork and spoon when eating. This will help with portion control and also allow you more time to eat and digest, so your brain can register that you’re already full.
2. Keep Count
Communal dining is a big part of the experience of Chinese New Year and no one wants to miss out on the fun of eating steamboat and other delicious dishes with friends and family together.
Try to keep track of what you eat so that you don’t overdo it. You can make use of the small bowl/plastic bag/paper box that are often on the table to collect bones, or if there’s skewered food, count the sticks so you know how much you’ve eaten.
This might seem like common sense to some of you, but you will be surprised how much food we can consume when there is no effective and accurate way of tracking what we have eaten.
Photo: Baker's Well
3. Buddy Up
It can be really hard to be good and diet during celebrations like Chinese New Year…after all do you really want to say no to that pineapple tart? But there’s always strength in numbers, and if you can find a friend or relative who is also watching what they eat, then doing it together can be all the more motivating.
This way, when you’re both at gatherings, you can remind each other to limit your tart intake, or that water is better than a sugary drink. Make sure you sit next to each other so you can encourage each other wherever you go!
4. Choose Between Sweet Drinks Or Dessert
When you’re out visiting, be sure to choose between drinking sweet drinks or eating dessert.
This helps you reduce your sugar intake and the amount of calories you’re eating too. If in doubt, stick to plain old water and say no to desserts flat out.
5. Drink Plenty Of Water
Sip water regularly throughout the day. The more hydrated you are, the fuller you’ll feel and the less food (and calories) you’ll want to, or be able to, consume.
Plus, sometimes our body mistakes thirst for hunger. So the more water you drink, the less thirsty you’ll be and therefore the less likely you’ll be to pick at calorie-filled Christmas treats.
6. Have A Really Big Breakfast
Studies show that the bigger your breakfast, the fewer calories you will consume during the rest of the day – and this rule counts double at Chinese New Year with all that temptation around.
Nutritionist Linda Foster says that unless you start the day by refuelling and stabilising your blood sugar levels you’re setting yourself up for a day of bingeing on all the sugar-packed festive treats that come your way.
7. Slow Down
Whether we’re rushing food on the go, or sitting with the family at the dinner table, it’s easier to overindulge when we eat too quickly.
Chewing food five to 10 times slows down our eating, aiding digestion and allowing the brain more time to recognise when we’ve eaten enough.
8. Plan Around Your Binge
Planning your week will make it easier to make healthy food choices. So if you know you’re having a festive meal out one evening, make sure you have a healthy lunch of soup or salad during the day.
Being realistic about the times when you know you’re going to overindulge allows you to plan sensible food choices before and after.
Photo: Kikki K
9. Keep Moving
Exercise is the single best way to keep your weight stable over the Chinese New Year period.
A brisk family stroll in between visiting is a great idea for body and mind and will help ensure your digestion works properly.
10. Give Something Back
Letting Chinese New Year’s indulgent food pattern seep into the rest of the holidays is just asking to pile on weight.
If you were gifted lots of tempting treats, give away all but a small box of pineapple tarts and send guests home with doggie bags containing leftover cake and nian gao.
(Text: Karen Fong, CLEO / Additional reporting: Natalya Molok)