Slash the damage to your waistline with these easy diet tips. By Esther Au Yong and Estelle Low
Being mindful of your diet is key to keeping the extra calories off. Photo: Anan Kaewkhammul / www.123rf.com
Chinese New Year is just not complete without the festive food. Pineapple tarts, bak kwa, love letters… and who can forget steamboat? But you don’t want to end up consuming more calories than you can burn. Follow these tips from Jaclyn Reutens, clinical dietitian at Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants to enjoy feasting without the guilt.
Eat-smart tip #1: 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.
Eat-smart tip #2: 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.
Eat-smart tip #3: 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.
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.
Eat-smart tip #5: Load up on veggies
Vegetables are rich in fibre, and will fill you up quickly so you have less room for snacks.
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.
Drink-smart tip #2: 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.
Drink-smart tip #3: 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.