Healthy eating habits post-Chinese New Year

February 1, 2022
Healthy eating habits post-Chinese New Year

A good Chinese New Year (CNY) celebration centres around family and food, with the latter usually consisting of high-calorie, high-fat, and high-sugar choices. While gaining a few kilos this festive season is inevitable, it is equally important to be mindful of post-festivity eating habits.

“When there is a 1kg-to-2kg weight increase that is not lost after each feasting, which can happen at least three or four times a year, the risk of obesity and associated diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease can increase,” explained Senior Dietitian Phoi Yan Yin from Changi General Hospital’s (CGH) Dietetic Consultation.

However, Singaporean experts said there is no need to detox or fast to combat the over-indulgence.

Among vital organs, the liver is likely to suffer most as it is responsible for breaking down fat and alcohol, which people tend to go overboard with during CNY, leading to fatty liver disease. The condition can also be exacerbated by excessive alcohol consumption.

Thankfully, the body is built to withstand the stress from the occasional binge, so one could simply opt to eat light for a few days after to compensate for the damage, instead of a drastic detox measure.

“The idea behind post-festivity compensation is to go for lower calories and more healthy food choices [such as] fresh fruit, and vegetable or fruit juices, especially those high in antioxidants, [which] fulfil these purposes as they are much lower in calories than a full meal,” said Dr. Lim Su Lin, Chief Dietitian at the National University Hospital (NUH). But if you feel that a detox or juice cleanse is the only way to make you feel better after too much oily food, there’s no harm in it – just don’t go overboard.

She added that fruit and vegetables alone lack other essential nutrients such as protein, essential fat, and B vitamins, and so cannot replace balanced meals.

“The ideal breakfast after a night of feasting should be no different from an ideal breakfast on any normal day – two slices of wholegrain bread with peanut butter and slices of banana, washed down with a cup of calcium-fortified soy milk; or a bowl of multigrain cereal in milk, topped with a handful of mixed nuts and cut fruit,” said Phoi, who regarded breakfast as an opportunity to include more whole grains, fibre, calcium, and vitamins in your diet.

There is also no need to pop probiotic pills or eat yoghurt to help your digestive system – that is, unless you have diarrhoea or are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

According to Dr. Alex Soh, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, NUH, probiotics may benefit patients with acute infectious diarrhoea in shortening the duration of illness and reducing stool frequency. At the same time, patients with IBS may experience reduced overall symptoms and abdominal pain with probiotics.

Read: Healthy eating tips during Ramadan

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Category: Features, Wellness and Complementary Therapies

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