Lunar New Year minefield: Top 5 fattening foods

Fit To Post Health

Chinese New Year foods (Getty Images Photo)

In the times of our ancestors, and even as recently as my parent's generation, the Lunar New Year held great significance not just in terms of family bonding, and catching up with friends and loved ones, but also in the kinds of food that were eaten.

I recall stories by people in my parent's generation where they told me that they rarely had money for drinks like Fanta orange or Coke except at New Years. Their daily meals were very basic, mostly some rice and salted fish or bean sprouts.

For them the variety of goodies that were served at Chinese New Year were a once in a year, major attraction.

However, fast forward to today, and the variety of foods available in a food court alone is vast.

Add to all this....

  • Aggressive advertising by food companies, (after all, they want to grow profits, and there is a limited amount of people, so that means we need to be encouraged to eat more).
  • The lack of other things to do in Singapore (sad but kind of true)
  • Sugary food being a good stress-buster which people rely on in stressed up Singapore

And this means that we tend to eat plenty of goodies all year round! And New Year celebrations just tend to add to this excess.

Yes, go ahead and enjoy yourself but be aware of what is actually being consumed so you don't go too far overboard.

For example (as seen on a pretty viral facebook picture), here are 5 of the top traditional foods consumed at New Year Celebrations and how they compare to foods we eat more often... you will notice that the festive foods tend to be dense in poor quality calories which means they are hard to burn off as I explained in this previous article, as well as non-filling, which means we tend to eat more of them.

  • 5 Pineapple tarts = 2 bowls of rice
  • 5 Love Letters = 4 slices of bread
  • One slice Bak Kwa = 2.5 slices of bread
  • 10 mini spring rolls = One bowl of rice
  • Two slices of Kueh Lapis = One and a half bowls of rice
  • Two Slices of fried Nian Gao = 6 (SIX!!) slices of bread

While I'm not really a calorie counting maniac for most Genesis Gym clients, calories do matter, and when you are loading up on Nian Gao or pineapple tarts, consider how much more filling the rice or bread is and how easy it is to overeat the tarts compared to the rice.

So enjoy yourself but make family, friends, thanksgiving, and joy be the focus of this festive season rather than food. Stay healthy and strong!

Coach Jonathan Wong is a respected health professional. He is also the Founder and CEO of Genesis Gym Singapore, which aims to provide the best personal training and fitness services in Singapore.