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Enjoy the lunar new year without gaining weight
Besides controlling one's diet,
working out is also very
important for staying in shape
during Chinese New Year

Enjoy the lunar new year without gaining weight
Sugar-free tea drinks are

Enjoy the lunar new year without gaining weight
Steamed and poached
dumplings are less fatty than
pan-fried ones.

Enjoy the lunar new year without gaining weight
Eating more fruit and
vegetables also means being

Enjoy the lunar new year without gaining weight
Little snacks are actually high
in calories, so don't eat too
many of them.

Enjoy the lunar new year without gaining weight
Avoid foods that contain
chemical additives.

Enjoy the lunar new year without gaining weight
Controlling your diet keeps you
from becoming overweight
during the holiday.

Enjoy the lunar new year without gaining weight

Living a healthier lifestyle with a low-calorie diet

Words by Zhang Ru-ling Translated by Angel Pu
Consultation and photos provided by Taichung City Public Health Bureau

Celebrating the Chinese New Year always implies plenty of enjoyable time with family and friends, and a LOT of eating! During this year's nine-day holiday, the assurance of a lot of greasy, fatty and delicious food can lead to stomach problems or, just as bad, weight gains.

As no one wants to give up good food during this festive occasion, below are some tips for having great Chinese New Year holiday without gaining weight, thanks to low-calorie food.

Proper cooking methods reduce calories
During the Chinese New Year, there are some must-eat dishes, such as various Chinese cakes symbolizing progress, "tang yuan" sweet glutinous rice balls symbolizing perfection, and dumplings for good fortune. These delicious little treats actually contain high quantities of starch that make people fat. However, the following healthy cooking hints can help ward off these effects.

Chinese New Year Cake
Most Chinese radish and taro cakes are the size of a playing card, and a slice that size contains the calories of quarter bowl of rice. This means that 100 grams of fried Chinese New Year cake (about 3-4 slices) contain about 400 calories, equal to a bowl and a half of rice. In addition, the cooking oil and coating will also add at least 10 grams of fat, not to mention the salt contained in the soy sauce these cakes are dipped in.

A better way to cook Chinese New Year cakes is to use a non-stick pan without the use of oil, and to eat them without sugar or sauces. When frying a salty Chinese New Year Cake, try to poach it, and cool the cooked cake with cold water before frying it. When it comes to garnishes, use more vegetables and less fatty meat. If you want to be healthier, steaming the cakes will also cut a lot of calories. Although the "fa-gao" Chinese cupcake is a steamed delicacy as well, eating too many of them can still result in health problems such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol.

Taiwanese love eating dumplings during the lunar new year because they look like ancient silver or gold money piece the Chinese once used. People often think of dumplings as a low-calorie food because they are boiled in water and are quite small. In reality, the calories of 10 frozen dumplings, be they pork, pork-and-leek or beef filled, run between 350 and 550 calories, depending on their size. And 10 vegetarian dumplings have about 300 calories. The healthiest approach is to make these dumplings yourself, because you can select lean meat and healthier ingredients such as whole wheat flour. If you're only eating dumplings for your meal, 12 to 15 are the optimum portion for one person, and it would be even healthier if this included a dish of boiled vegetables. Of course, steamed dumplings and boiled dumplings are always less fat than pan-fried ones.

Tang yuan
Taiwanese consider "tang yuan" sweet glutinous rice balls a symbol of perfection. Ten to 15 normal, small tang yuan have about 70 calories. For a healthier approach, these can be made salty by adding in large amount of vegetables and mushrooms during cooking. However, avoid adding minced pork, which is fairly fatty. To make sweet tang yuan, use a sugar substitute instead of sugar, and avoid ingredients such as red beans, peanuts or sesame, because the calories of only four balls of sweet tang yuan are the same as a bowl of rice.

Eat more fruit, vegetables and reduce meat
Hot pots that contain meat or seafood based soup stock usually have higher levels of fat, purine and salt, so we recommend using a stock cooked with fruit and vegetables such as apples, carrots, celery, bean sprouts and cabbage. Also be careful about using too many hot pot dipping sauces, like the "shacha", peanut and sesame sauces, because these are quite fatty. For example, 100 grams of "shacha" sauce contains about 724 calories. At home, you can instead make a DIY sauce with healthier ingredients such as soy sauce, minced garlic, chili, vinegar, scallions, lemon juice, ginger, Chinese basil, cilantro, and minced radish.

Enjoying healthier snacks and good times
The Chinese New Year holidays always include chatting and watching TV with relatives and friends while eating snacks like potato chips, cashew nuts and dried seeds. Here are some nutrition facts to consider: For pistachio nuts, for instance, every 100 grams (about 30 pistachios) contains a shocking 602 calories, which would take about 1.5 hours of jogging to burn off. A hundred grams of hazelnut chocolates and 200 grams of shredded dried squid both have about 560 calories, which would also take about the same amount of exercise to work off. Therefore, we recommend switching from the above snacks to healthier, low-calorie ones such as Conjac candy and dried seaweed, with an even better option being seasonal fruit.

In addition, processed foods like shredded dried squid and meat jerky are usually too salty, while other sweets such as chocolate and peanut candies are too fatty. Thus, those suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disorders or cardiovascular diseases should avoid consuming too much of these.

Low-calorie diet, exercise keep obesity away
If you are getting confused by what you should and shouldn't eat, just remember the following key principles: less oil, less salt, less sugar, less starch, less nuts and more vegetables. In addition to maintaining a healthier diet, exercise also helps you stay in shape during the Chinese New Year. Everybody knows that the best ways to lose weight are eating less, working out more and being patient. Try to walk 10,000 steps per day, to ride a bicycle instead of a motorcycle, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. About 30 minutes of walking or cycling can both consume about 100 calories.

Just keep in mind that living a regular lifestyle is very important. Try to return to your normal life and daily schedule of work and rest as soon as possible after the holidays, because hormonal imbalances are also a reason for obesity.

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