Food & Nutrition

How You Can Survive Chinese New Year Feasting Easily

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Feb 4, 2016
How You Can Survive Chinese New Year Feasting Easily

The celebrations for Chinese Lunar New Year (CNY) or the Spring Festival normally last for a period of 15 days. The first few days of the CNY holidays are the most hectic and with frequent festive eating, it's inevitable that we might eat a little more than we expected.

So how do you keep your festive spirit high yet keep your waistline low? We take a look at some of the common and favourite CNY snacks and how much running you need to shave off those nasty calories, plus some recommended eating tips.

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How You Can Survive Chinese New Year Feasting Easily

Peanuts

Peanuts are so addictive when you start eating them and it usually ends up not knowing how many you have eaten. Mix them up with almonds, raw cashew nuts and groundnuts for a healthier choice. Peanuts are high in monounsaturated fat and it may help prevent heart disease with moderate consumption.

Contain: Monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, niacin, folate, protein and manganese
Ingredients: flour, coconut milk, sugar and egg
One small bowl: 40g
Calories: 170
Distance needed to run off: 1.94 Km

Love Letter

Known also as Kueh kapek or Kuih belandah, these traditional Peranakan treats are high in fat, saturated fat and sugar which will increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and weight gain.

Ingredients: Flour, coconut milk, sugar and egg
One piece: 13g
Calories: 56
Distance needed to run off: 0.64 Km

Mini Shrimp Rolls

High in saturated fat, sodium and calories, so eat these deep fried snacks sparingly.

Ingredients: Dried shrimps, dried chillies, shallots, garlic, oil, salt, sugar, spring roll skins and eggs
One piece: 5g
Calories: 25 kcal
Distance needed to run off: 0.28 Km

Kueh Bangkit

These crumbly cookies are a delight as they dissolve into sweet-powdery softness and melt in your mouth with the fragrance of coconut and pandan, but they contain a lot of sugar and coconut milk. Recommended daily serving is two to three pieces.

Ingredients: Sugar, coconut milk, sago, tapioca or arrowroot flour, pandan leaves
One piece: 6g
Calories: 23
Distance needed to run off: 0.26 Km

Pineapple Tart

This tasty pastry contains lots of butter (fat). Consuming excess tarts will lead to weight gain. Choose tarts with less sugar and are trans fat free.

Ingredients: Pineapple paste, eggs and sugar
One piece: 20g
Calories: 82
Distance needed to run off: 0.93 Km

Bak Kwa, Pork

High in calories, sodium and sugar. Eating too much of it can increase your risk of hypertension and weight gain. It's also considered to be a "heaty" food in traditional Chinese medicine, so consuming too much may result in sore throats, ulcers and coughs.

Ingredients: Minced pork marinated in fish sauce, dark and light soya sauce, rice wine, sugar and honey.
One slice: 57g
Calories: 370 kcal
Distance needed to run off: 4.22 Km

Gua Zi (Dried Melon Seeds)

These seeds are rich in fat and protein and taste like pumpkin seeds. The Cantonese pronunciation of gua zi means to be in constant thought of someone and is considered a "lucky" food in CNY.

Contain: Protein, fat and vitamins A, B1, B2, C and alpha-tocopherol, a component of vitamin E.
One small bowl: 40g
Calories: 135 kcal
Distance needed to run off: 1.54 Km

Kuih Bahulu

Otherwise known as mini egg sponge cakes in English, this is a popular delicacy among Singaporeans, and commonly prepared for Chinese New Year. They are usually baked in a copper mould over a charcoal fire.

Contain: Eggs, flour, baking soda, sugar
One piece: 8g
Calories: 34
Distance needed to run off: 0.39 Km

Honeycomb cookie

These crunchy traditional cookies are one of the favourite snacks in major festive celebrations like the Chinese New Year. They are usually deep-fried.

Contain: Eggs, coconut milk, salt, flour, sugar
One piece: 10g
Calories: 50
Distance needed to run off: 0.57 Km

Nian Gao

Also know as rice cake, this sticky sweet snack is considered good luck to eat during Chinese New Year. Cut yourself a smaller slice as it's very high in calories.

Contain: Eggs, coconut milk, salt, flour, sugar
One piece: 43g
Calories: 220
Distance needed to run off: 2.51 Km

Pistachio Nuts

Known as "Happy Nuts" in China, pistachio are given as a gift during Chinese New Year as a symbol of health, happiness, prosperity and good fortune. They contain fewer calories than other nuts.

Contain: Potassium, vitamin K, E, phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, and protein
One small bowl: 30g
Calories: 160
Distance needed to run off: 1.83 Km

Kueh Lapis

Kueh Lapis is a specialty food from Indonesia but is also popular during Chinese New Year. It is a light layered cake that is available in many different flavours.

Contain: Potassium, vitamin K, E, phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, and protein
One piece: 33g
Calories: 157
Distance needed to run off: 1.79 Km

Tips For Healthier Chinese New Year Eating

  • Try not to go visiting with an empty stomach, instead, fill yourself up on the healthier and lower calories food or drinks.
  • Add healthy fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole-grains or healthy calcium-rich low fat milk to your diet.
  • Ration your favourite food by eating in small portions to reduce overeating. If you know that you will have difficulty eating just a few portions, choose to not start eating them in the first place.
  • Usually it's the unconscious nibbling and sipping that can increase your calorie intake. Eat only when you are hungry and not just because the food is nearby.
  • Chewing your food and eating slowly not only allows you to enjoy your food. It also allows your stomach the time to digest and send signals to your brain telling it you are full, which will prevent over eating.
  • Avoid mixing eating those snacks with drinking soft drinks, sweet beverages or alcohol. Those drinks contain empty calories which can contribute significantly to your calorie intake. Choose water instead which has zero calories or no sugar added/low sugar beverages to fill up your stomach first.

How You Can Survive Chinese New Year Feasting Easily

Eating the CNY snacks and treats is part of the festive celebration and can't be avoided. However, we can eat wisely, practice moderation yet still enjoying them. While you can burn off those calories by running the distance that you have calculated, you still should not overeat.

How do you prevent yourself from overeating during festive seasons like the CNY? Do you simply pay back that calorie guilt by running harder after the celebration or simply avoid eating them all together?

Nathaniel is a disciplined casual runner and a lover of bananas. As a columnist for RunSociety, he is always on the lookout for exciting and controversial topics that touch the heart of the running community in Singapore, often adding in his funny observations. He has embarked on a mission to start a world class running group in Asia.

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