Here’s how you can reduce your sugar intake and use sugar substitutes to make your Chinese New Year celebrations even sweeter.
You’re probably looking forward to visiting a colleague or friend’s house to indulge in the annual feasting. Or stocking up on all sorts of snacks and drinks to play host.
Within the huge array of snacks on offer, there’s bound to be lots of sweet treats and drinks. Even though you probably already know that too much sugar puts you at risk of obesity,
diabetes and heart disease, Chinese New Year only comes once a year, so shouldn‘t you just enjoy the moment? After all, what would your friends and relatives think if all you served was plain water and sugar-free cookies?
It‘s not just your taste receptors in your mouth that adjust; there are also sweet taste receptors in your gut, which influence the release of hormones that control blood sugar and your appetite. In other words, the more sugar you consume, the more your body expects, and conversely, the less sugar you take, the less your body expects.
So now that we have busted the myth that more sugar = more taste, let‘s look at some practical figures and methods to aid us on our journey this Chinese New Year to cut down on sugar.
Reduce Sugar Content in Drinks - Say Siu Dai Instead for a Healthier Brew
Our sugar consumption should be no more than 10 percent of our daily energy intake. For most adults, that is about 10 teaspoons of sugar (based on a 2000-daily calorie intake). If you are determined enough, a further reduction to 5 teaspoons (25g) of sugar a day can bring about additional health benefits such as a decrease in weight.
The following table shows you the estimated amount of sugar found in popular Chinese New Year snacks. With these numbers in mind, you should be able to make a more informed decision before gorging yourself silly with festive goodies.
Chinese New Year Snack
Amount of Sugar per Serving
Pineapple Tarts (2 pcs)
Nian Gao (1 pc)
Love Letters (2 pcs)
Spicy Dried Shrimp Rolls (45g packet)
Kueh Bangkit (2 pcs)
Kueh Bahulu (3 pcs)
Bak Kwa (1 slice)
You can also try some of the following tips:
As an alternative to sugar, experiment with non-caloric sweeteners in your cooking this Chinese New Year. These sweeteners contain little to no calories and are safe when consumed in moderate amounts. With the exception of aspartame, most sugar substitutes are heat stable and can be used for cooking.
You can also try mixing them with real sugar to achieve a more natural taste. Check out this useful guide on sugar substitutes.
Instead of sugar, use fruit purees, dried fruit or fruit juices in your baking, cooking or drinks. Check the ingredient labels to see that they have no added sugar.
When stocking up on food and snacks to serve this Chinese New Year, look out for products with the
Healthier Choice Symbol. These indicate healthier options, which are not only lower in sugar, but also in salt and fat.
While dried fruit snacks contain more calories than fresh fruits, they are still a better option than chocolate and candies.
Stock up and serve drinks with less or no sugar. You‘d be surprised at how many people will go for the healthier option.
While this might sound strange, when you don‘t eat regularly, your blood sugar levels drop, causing you to feel hunger and crave sugary snacks. This CNY, arm yourself with healthy snack bars as you go about your house visitation. Every time you feel the hunger pangs set in, take a bite. This way, when you get to your next destination, you are less likely to overeat.
Sweet Talk: Sugars and Sweeteners
You‘ve heard it all too often, and you may even be guilty of this. Come festive periods such as Chinese New Year, it‘s hard to say no to the endless feasting. You make yourself feel better by saying, “It‘s only a couple of times a year! I‘ll make it up by dieting after and going to the gym more often.”
However, this pattern of binge eating and excessive dieting, also known as yo-yo dieting or weight cycling, may not be ideal for your body in the long run. While more studies are still required to know if there are any proven negative effects on your body, we know that weight cycling is not the most effective method for weight loss.
While you may succeed initially at your ambitious diet plan, these goals are hard to achieve in the long run. You are likely to revert back to your old eating habits and may even put on a few extra kilos due to the negative emotional state of having failed at your diet plan.
Remember, the key to a successful diet plan is to set achievable goals and be consistent.
Here’s wishing you a sweet celebration without the added sugar!
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This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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