Healthy Strategies for the Chinese New Year Season
THE COMING 15 DAYS of Chinese New Year are often a time of indulgence. Once you get into the festivities, it's easy to let yourself go. So instead of falling into habits of overeating, here are some healthy strategies you can adopt this festive period.
1. Build Your Immunity
Especially with the recent haywire weather and the busyness of preparing for the festivities, take the next few days to build your immunity and lower your vulnerability to illness.
You're going to need your strength, so make an effort to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. This one habit affects your well-being more than almost anything else. You need sufficient sleep to promote healthy brain function and emotional well-being. A recent study also found that adults ate an extra 300 calories and tended to choose foods high in fat and calories when they lacked sleep.
Go one step further and allow yourself a self-care routine. Treat yourself to a long bath or a weekly massage. People with chronic stress often have weaker immune systems, and are therefore, more prone to anxiety, insomnia and a host of health issues.
Sneak nutrition into your meals
Adding nutrition to your festivities doesn't require a drastic change. In fact, you can start small by infusing your water with lemon as you stay hydrated throughout the day. Doing so will help boost your immune system, aid in weight loss and digestion, and purge toxins to clear your skin. Alternatively, try adding a pinch of turmeric to your food (soups, stews) or drinks (teas). Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidants, helps protect the liver and boost brain power. Remember to start off with a small amount and scale up - turmeric can be a strong flavour, but no one will notice a little pinch.
2. Keep Moving
Although it is difficult to fit in time for exercise during this festive period, it might just be what you need. The benefits of exercise are well-known: it helps release endorphins and helps you keep away the extra weight from holiday snacking. But more than just that, exercise also stimulates a sluggish digestion, regulates metabolism and aids in removing toxins in your body.
Simplify your routine
Instead of forgoing your exercise routine, trim it down to one activity that will make the biggest impact on your mood and energy. It could be as simple as a brisk walk, a short yoga session or deep breathing exercises.
Commit out loud
If you're finding it hard to commit to your exercise plan, voice it out to someone. Saying it out loud will help your family and friends hold you accountable. They might even share a similar need and decide to join you.
3. Eat Mindfully
When it comes to Chinese New Year, we easily fall into the trap that over-indulgence is enjoyment. Avoid this faulty logic by planning in advance to let yourself be more flexible this time of the year.
Choose your indulgences
Instead of mindlessly eating, allow yourself to enjoy the few treats that you look forward to on this special occasion. Research has shown that our first few bites are the most enjoyable, so save your taste buds for what you really love. You'll be more satisfied, have less cravings and will be less likely to overeat later on. According to registered dietitian, Lindsey Joe, "eat what you love, leave what you like". You don't have to eat something just because it's "holiday food".
Concentrate on what you're eating
Focus on your food while you eat it. Multitasking (watching tv or having a conversation) during a meal has been found to make you pop mindless calories into your mouth. Nutritionist Anne Ricci suggests to focus on enjoying the smell, taste, and texture of each bite of food. Eating mindfully will help you slow down and naturally stop when you're full.
IF YOU STILL FIND YOURSELF overeating, don't beat yourself up for going overboard (we all do from time to time). Remember to show yourself some kindness. Confine this "setback" to just that one meal. Ditch the guilt! Remember that it does not reflect poorly on you or your character. After all, these social gatherings are for you to catch up with family and friends. Take the time to socialize and be fully present, and approach the next day with confidence.