Healthy Eating this New Year, the Key to Prosperity!

healthy eating, low calorie food, healthy food

Chinese New Year is just around the corner. Time to look for recipes, ingredients, pre-made snacks and everything that make up the festive feasts!

Just as every other festive season, there is going to be an overload of foodstuffs, most of which are fried, barbequed or deep-fried. And after the New Year celebrations, again, just like every other year, we sit and complain about the festive weight we have gained, which could take up to 6 months to go off.

Chinese New Year is about prosperity. Prosperity, however, does not come with eating everything that is served on the table. They say the key to prosperity comes with healthy heating. Because, after all, health is wealth as we all know it.

The question is: What is healthy eating?

Before we dwell into that, let us first look at the calorie content of some of the most commonly consumed foods during Chinese New Year season.

No. Food Serving size
1 Steamed Chicken (Meat and Skin) Steamed Chicken (Meat and Skin) 2 pieces (50g) 80
2 Fish Maw Soup Fish Maw Soup 1 small bowl (80g) 40
3 Roasted Duck (With Skin) Roasted Duck (With Skin) 2 pieces (50g) 110
4 Braised Sea Cucumber and Mushroom Braised Sea Cucumber and Mushroom 2 Chinese spoons (40g) 40
5 Braised Slices of Abalone Braised Slices of Abalone 3 pieces (20g) 20
6 Glutinous Rice Ball / Tang Yuan Glutinous Rice Ball / Tang Yuan 7 pieces' tang yuan + Syrup (80g) 100
7 Steam Glutinous Rice Cake / Nian Gao Steam Glutinous Rice Cake / Nian Gao 1 whole piece (300g) 690
8 Peanut Cookies Peanut Cookies 4 pieces (40g) 200
9 Crispy Honeycomb Cookies Crispy Honeycomb Cookies 3 pieces (30g) 150
10 White Radish Cake White Radish Cake 1 whole piece (80g) 160
11 Pineapple Tarts Pineapple Tarts 4 pieces (30g) 140
12 Bak Kwa, pork Bak Kwa, pork 1 piece (90g) 370
13 Mini Chicken Bak Kwa Mini Chicken Bak Kwa 1 piece (40g) 150
14 Cashew Nuts (oil roasted, salted) Cashew Nuts (oil roasted, salted) 1 small bowl (40g) 135
15 Kua-ci Kua-ci 1 small bowl (40g) 135
16 Prawn Crackers Prawn Crackers 2 big pieces (40g) 170
17 Dried Persimmons Dried Persimmons 1 piece (80g) 195
18 Mandarin Orange Mandarin Orange 1 whole (100g) 50
19 Pomelo Pomelo 1 piece (40g) 10
20 Plain Water Plain Water 1 glass (250ml) 0
21 Cordial Drink Cordial Drink 1 glass (250ml) 80
22 Carbonated Drink Carbonated Drink 1 can (325ml) 130
23 Packet Drink Packet Drink 1 packet (200ml) 90
24 Beer (2-<8% alcohol) Beer (2-<8% alcohol) 1 can (320ml) 106
25 Wine / Toddy (8-<15% alcohol) Wine / Toddy (8-<15% alcohol) 1 serving (140ml) 108
26 Brandy/ Whisky/ Vodka (>30% alcohol) Brandy/ Whisky/ Vodka (>30% alcohol) 1 serving (35ml) 114

One could observe from the list above that there are plenty of foodstuffs which are fairly low on the calorie meter and at the same time, there are also some which could hit the top of the hammer bell.

So what does this tell us? Not all festive season foodstuffs are unhealthy, after all. Moderation is the key, and healthy eating is all what we need. If controlling temptations is so hard, why not seek to strike a balance between fried food vs steam food, preserved food vs raw fruits and vegetables, sugary drinks vs plain water and many more, so you would get a taste of everything but in moderation.

For many of us, festive seasons are the only time we could cheat on our diet plans. While treats and festive foods could add variety and enjoyment to our daily boring and routine diets, unfortunately many of us are already eating poorly as a regular practice. And every festive season, it just gets worse with binge eating from dawn to dusk and visiting different houses filled with buffets lines of more foods.

So how do you help yourself from being caught in this dilemma every time you visit a relative’s house? Just start by planning your food and drinking intake well. From the list above, you will observe that there are plenty of foodstuffs which are fairly low in calories, such as fruits and smoked snacks, which could occupy the in-between-meals time without leaving excess baggage around your waist and hips. Set limits to the amount of sugary drinks or alcohol you could consume in a day, and only drink water the rest of the time.

Essentially, if one meal is served with an abundance of seafood and meat, there should be an equal amount of vegetable and water to disperse the unhealthy ingredients out of our body fast. If you partial towards fried or deep fried foodstuffs such as nuts and snacks, try to add in smoked and grilled foodstuffs which contain half the calories and fats.

Before going for a buffet or open house, try to eat healthy foods that you keep fuller for longer. Try going for plenty of salad or vegetables, some lean protein and wholegrain carbohydrates. Dietary proteins leave us feeling fuller for longer than salted or sugary snacks.

At the end of the day, the whole point is not to feel guilty of overindulging during the festive season. If you can’t control your temptations, just try to keep it simple. Limit the junk foods that you are most partial to by halving the amount consumed. And while you’re at it, double your vegetable and salad habits. After all, not everything served during the Chinese New Year season is unhealthy – you just have to consume them in moderation and healthy amounts.

*As causes for being overweight vary from person to person, weight loss results will also vary from person to person, dependant on various genetic or environmental factors such as food intake, individual rate of metabolism, level of exercise, etc. No individual result should be seen as typical.