How to avoid getting fat this CNY

SINGAPORE - Chinese New Year is around the corner and chances are you will be visiting many friends and family members to pay your respects.

And with visiting will come many yummy goodies being offered to you - goodies that are more often than not high in fat and sugar, which means they contain a lot of calories.

There is a tendency for people to unknowingly munch on these goodies in large quantities. And what do you do when you are offered a tidbit you can't refuse?

It's important to bear in mind that there are no particular foods that are absolutely healthy or unhealthy, BUT overindulging can make you pile on the pounds even if you hit the gym everyday.

Many people are under the mistaken impression that a bout of vigorous exercise or a long walk means that they can go all out at a buffet. But if you burn just 50 to 60 calories on a 30 minute walk, and then eat two slices of bak kwa totalling 600 calories, it just doesn't make mathematical sense.

Find out how many calories you are burning in a day

Try these tips that will make it still possible to enjoy all the festivities without compromising on the delicious food and fabulous company.

How do I avoid overeating?

In general, an average adult who is satisfied with his or her weight requires about 2,100 calories for male and 1,600 calories for a female per day.

Not sure how many calories you need to eat to hit your ideal weight? Try our  weight loss calculator .

Overeating is consuming more than the required amount of calories for your specific needs. If your  physical activity level does not increase accordingly, it will lead  to weight gain.

Try taking note of how many calories you are eating and make sure it falls within your daily caloric needs.

It's simpler than it sounds. Now with modern technology, you no longer need to carry around a diary or even pen and paper. Try using mobile apps that help you track your caloric intake instead.

App recommendations to watch your weight

Our recommendations:

1. MyFitnessPal : This is a free app available for iPhones, Android devices, Windows phones and even BlackBerries. It allows you to set a daily calorie goal, then record your daily food and exercise to make sure you stay on track.

2. Weight Watchers : If you have a Weight Watchers subscription, you can get this for free. Available on iPhone and Android devices, it allows you to track your food, weight and activity levels. You can also access recipe ideas on the go.

3. MyNetDiary : This free calorie counter and free food diary is available on iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry interfaces. This app advocates a simple motto: To lose a pound of fat, you need to lose 3,500 calories. It's as simple as that.

2.  HPB’s iDAT application : This application developed by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) helps balance calorie intake and output while on the go. Based on one’s age, height and weight, it calibrates the recommended calories per day for the user.

It then allows the user to track the different food consumed and balance it against the physical activities done.

How do I reject food offered?

How do I reject food offered?

It is understandable that it might seem rude to not eat snacks offered to you.  It is alright to join in the festive celebration and enjoy delicacies that you rarely eat at other times of the year.

Healthy eating is not about total abstinence from food. One can still consume all types of food in moderation, taking into consideration portion sizes.

For example, instead of having a whole slice of bak kwa, try sharing it with a relative to halve the calories you consume. Sample food offered in small portions to prevent overeating, and try to choose snacks that are lower in fat, salt and sugar (refer to gallery for snacks lowest in caloric count).

Alternatively, you can try to compensate for the snacks eaten by cutting back on other snacks or increasing your physical activity. For example, take the stairs instead  while visiting relatives  to burn off those excess calories.

If I do over-indulge, how should I eat in the days that follow?

To overcome the immediate gastric discomfort from over-eating, avoid fried foods, strong tea, coffee or alcohol as these can cause further irritation.

Over the next few days, you do not have to skip meals to make up for the extra food consumed. Instead, have regular meals and keep portions small.

Also, balance your food intake with physical activity. You can increase physical activity simply by building it into your daily routine. For example, taking the stairs burns five times more calories than using the lift.

Easy ways to 'exercise' this CNY

How can I offset the feasting with physical activity?

To achieve substantial health benefits, the minimum length of a physical activity session should be at least 10 minutes,  as recommended by the Health Promotion Board’s National Physical Activity Guidelines.

The 10-minute sessions can be accumulated throughout the week to achieve 150 minutes of moderate intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity a week.

(One minute of vigorous intensity physical activity = about two minutes of moderate intensity physical activity)

A moderate intensity aerobic activity causes a noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate. For instance, adults should still be able to talk but do not have enough breath to sing while engaging in brisk walking.

With so much festive feasting and visiting going on, it is very easy to miss out on physical activity. But with these easy steps, you can squeeze 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity into a week:

1. Spring cleaning

Have a neat and clean work station for a great start to the New Year!

Spring clean your house and work station in 10-minute bouts. Dusting, organising your shelves, packing your things neatly, can count towards the 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every week. 

Read more: Spring-clean your fridge for a healthier CNY

2. Staying active during Chinese New Year

· When visiting loved ones, choose to take the stairs instead of the lift.

· When visiting, choose to alight one bus/MRT stop earlier and walk the additional distance.

· Offer to help to shop for festive goodies. Carrying bags constitute as strength training and count towards the weekly physical activity recommendations.

· Spend time to whipping up festive meals.

Nutritional information and caloric counts provided by the Health Promotion Board (HPB).

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