Christmas, check. New Year’s parties, check. And when you are still trying to lose those extra pounds from all the year-end festivities comes Chinese New Year.
A research (2012 survey by Taiwan’s Health Promotion Administration) has shown that a majority of us overeat 39% more calories during festivities, and a whopping 45% of us gain an average of 1.7kg during Chinese New Year.
While keeping track of your calories count is the last thing in mind as you treat yourself to the free pass to indulge in sweet & savoury snacks during Chinese New Year, it’s never a bad idea to know the nutritional values of what you are popping into your mouth. Let us break down some popular Chinese New Year treats to help you make better decisions as to what to eat and how much of it you should be consuming.
Bak Kwa (301 calories)
No doubt and hailed as a staple during CNY, this savoury treat is made from minced pork marinated with salt, soy sauce, sugar, and honey. However, did you know that two slices of this unstoppable treat is equivalent to a plate of chicken rice?
Bak Kwa can easily send your daily diet off charts with 301 calories, 4.1g saturated fat, 32g sugar, and 732mg sodium intake (more than the required daily intake)!
Damage: A slice of bak Kwa is worth 30 minutes jogging or 45 – 50 minutes of heavy-duty household chores.
Replace with: Nothing replaces the traditional sentimental bak kwa but you may choose to share a piece with another because… good things must share right? 😉
Pineapple Tarts (94 calories)
Don’t be tricked by these petite bites as they contain 3.5 teaspoons of sugar in each tart! These luscious golden tarts filled with jammy pineapple fillings have 2.3g of saturated fat, 6.2g of sugar and 58mg of sodium.
Damage: Two tarts are equivalent to 25 minutes of vigorous jumping jacks or 1 hour of cleaning your entire house.
Replace with: Many bakeries have been innovating and launching less sugar or sugarless alternatives for health-conscious people. Otherwise, choose to eat tangerines which are readily available during CNY too!
Dried Shrimp Rolls (23 calories)
Aka Hae Bee Hiam — trust us that you will not stop at one for these spicy savoury rolls that are deep-fried to gastronomic perfection.
However, you should be mindful when consuming these yummy morsels as each piece is deep-fried and rich in saturated fat which might cause an increase of hard-to-burn calories and artery-clogging saturated fat for your body.
Damage: 5 – 6 snackable shrimp rolls are worth 15 minutes of vigorous rope skipping or 40 minutes of vacuuming.
Replace with: Melon seeds are an excellent source of amino acids, proteins and vitamin B, which are essentials in boosting your body’s metabolism.
Kueh Bangkit (15 calories)
Compared to other snacks, these lower-shaped cookies are easier on your waistline at just 15 calories a piece. It has lower saturated fat, sugar, and sodium content as well, but that doesn’t give you the excuse to indulge in these pretty flower-shaped treats.
Damage: 15 minutes brisk walking or 5 minutes of carrying your baby niece/nephew.
Replace with: Nibble some groundnuts instead as it’s packed with healthy monounsaturated fats, fibre and protein which helps to make you fuller quicker.
(Img cr: Herworld)
Love Letters (58 calories)
As harmless as you think they are, these light tasting treats are actually calorie bombs. This easy on palate and melt in your mouth wafer is made with coconut milk, flour, sugar and eggs.
Damage: Three wafer rolls are worth 20 – 25 minutes of stair-climbing or 1 hour of scrubbing your toilet floor.
Replace with: Kueh bangkit to lessen the impact as each piece only cost you 15 calories, but just remember to eat it in moderation too!
Cashew Cookies (62 calories)
Made with nuts, many people tend to assume that it is one of the healthier options to indulge in. These cookies are made with butter, sugar, eggs, flour and cashew nuts, packing high amounts of fat and cholesterol.
Damage: 19 minutes of brisk walking should do you good in burning the calories off.
Replace with: Dry roasted, unsalted, or baked cashew nuts which are more satisfying with that extra crunch factor.
Yu Sheng (560 calories)
What is CNY without Yu Sheng? It might look healthy with slices of raw fish, vegetables, spices and sesame seeds, it is just a huge plate of salad, isn’t it? As you drench your yu sheng with the signature plum sauce, oil, and everyone’s favourite, crispy “golden pillow” crackers, you end up with a high-fat, high-sugar appetizer.
Damage: 2 hours and 52 minutes of walking to burn these accumulated calories away.
Replace with: Well, nothing beats the significance of a Lo Hei without proper yu sheng, but consider reducing the oil, plum sauce, less preserved vegetables and add more vegetables with unsalted nuts to replace the crackers for a healthier option.
Mandarin Oranges (39 calories)
By far the healthiest treat of all time during CNY at 39 calories with the least amount of fat and contains vitamins and fibre. This can be something you reach out to often but not going overboard as they are still high in fructose (natural sugar).
Damage: 12 minutes of brisk walking
Deep Fried Crab Sticks (166 calories)
These insanely addictive strips of crab sticks are usually deep-fried in palm oil (unless homemade), its high in saturated fat and high sodium content can increase the probability of heart diseases.
Damage: 25 minutes of cycling, 16 minutes of running or 1 hour cleaning.
Replace with: Opt for healthier alternatives in terms of preparation like baked or air-fried as substitutes.
Fried Nian Gao (190 calories)
Typically served pan-fried till a crunchy skin texture, this sticky rice cake is made with glutinous rice flour, sugar and oil. However despite the name translated to “higher year”, too much of these means higher numbers on the scales as it costs you 190 calories and 55g of saturated fat.
Damage: 29 minutes of cycling, 19 minutes of running or 1 hour of cleaning
Replace with: The steamed version with half of the calories and 1/4 of fat. The same amount of sweet factor, healthier but without the guilt.
Smart Tips To Prepare For CNY
1. Don’t do your visitations on an empty stomach
When you are full, you will not set yourself up for a day of temptations or binge eating, and have the discipline you need against those savoury and sweet treats.
2. Staying active during house visitations
Do up a visitation plan and consider walking to your relatives’ house if the locations that you are visiting are within close proximity.
3. Be a Marie Kondo aka Spring cleaning
A culture for all households prior to the actual day of CNY, spring cleaning activities like dusting, wiping and organising can contribute to 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical workout every week.
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A good tip is to eat in moderation and practice self-discipline during CNY as it might be a moment on your lips but forever on your hips. Trust us, your waistline will thank you for it.