Celebrating a healthy Chinese New Year

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Chinese New Year (CNY) is around the corner, when celebrating it with friends and relatives, we are all spoilt for choice with all sorts of appetizing cookies and snacks symbolising wealth and good fortune. Among the few popular CNY snacks are such as pineapple tarts, Bak Kwa (BBQ pork), cashew nuts, fried peanut puffs, fried shrimp rolls, love letter, and many more.

CNY Snacks & Cookies

As you enjoy your indulgences, you must also watch out for the unhealthy stuffs and habits. In this article, we will look at how to enjoy a healthy and rewarding CNY.


Statistics of admission after CNY

It is rather common to see an increased admission trend in hospitals and clinics after every festive season. Usually, the admissions are due to poor glycemic control, heart disease, digestive problems, accidents, and so on.


According to a survey by Taiwan’s Health Promotion Administration, during festive season, most people over-consume 39% more calories than normal days. Nearly 45% of people gain an average of 1.7 kg during the Chinese New Year. All these happen because most snacks they consume are high in fat, sugar, and calories.


Fat and sugar content of CNY snacks

Blissfully unaware to many of us, Chinese New Year snacks and goodies such as Bak Kwa, Nian Gao fritters, pineapple tarts, kuih bangkit, love letters, and peanut puffs contain highly refined carbohydrates (Figure 1). Refined carbohydrates cause the glucose to be released into your blood stream much easier. This will then lead to a surge of blood glucose (hyperglycaemia) which can burden your system in long run.


Other than high sugar contain, many of the CNY goodies are also high in fat because they are mostly processed using saturated or trans fat (Figure 1). For example, Bak Kwa, Nian Gao fritters, kuih lapis, pineapple tarts, etc. Over-consumption of these oily foods can increase your LDL Cholesterol which may lead to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and stroke.


Needless to say, foods high in fats and sugars translate to high calories. If you over-consume fats and sugars, but do not burn off the calories through exercise and physical activity, the surplus calories will be stored in your body as fat. In long run, you will become obese.

Figure 1: Fat and sugar contents in CNY snacks

How you can burn the calories?

If you cannot resist the CNY snacks due to whatever reasons, be it peer pressure or lack of discipline, the table in Figure 2 shows some examples and amount of exercises you need to shed off the extra calories.
CNY Goodies & exercises
Figure 2: Exercises to burn excess calories.

Other potential health problems

Apart from the health implications of eating the unhealthy CNY snacks, there are a few other habits that could potentially damage your health.

  • Sleep / rest deprivation
    Sleeping late or lack of sleep can cause irritability, ulcers, dark circles, pimples and bad breath.
  • Overeating (e.g. sumptuous meals and reunion dinner)
    Overeating can lead to indigestion, nausea, and bloating.
  • Processed foods
    Eating too much processed foods can cause sore throat, ulcers, pimples, irritability and constipation.
  • Dehydration
    Overeating without replenishing enough water can make your mouth and throat dry, feeling dehydrated and agitated.
  • Alcohol
    When friends and relatives get together during CNY, drinking beers and wines have become a “must-have”. Over-consumption of alcohol leads to many health risks, for example hypertension, heart disease, dementia, depression, anxiety, etc.
  • Smoking
    Everyone knows smoking can lead to cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, yet there are still many adults and youngsters smoke, especially during social gathering.
  • Gambling
    One of the other common entertainment during CNY when friends and relatives meet is gambling. It doesn’t just make you lose money, it can also affect your mood, cause anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and other issues if you are addicted.


With all the health risks mentioned above, you must consciously watch your diet and unhealthy habits. Calories are easy to gain but difficult to shed off. Here are some advices for a healhty and safe Chinese New Year, especially if you are at risk of developing chronic diseases.

  • Eat slowly, eat in moderation
    There is really no need to stuff your stomach with foods in a short period. Space out your meal in small bites and portions will ensure better digestion.
  • Eat more fibre
    Instead of eating too much processed foods, go for more fibre (vegetables), that will help your digestion and bowel movement.
  • Drink more water, not sweetened and alcoholic drinks
    For sure, sweetened drinks and alcohols are available in many gatherings. You must try to limit your consumption and replenish your body with plain water whenever possible.
  • Get enough rest & sleep
    You may be meeting people you have not met for ages especially during these few years of COVID pandemic, but do not sacrifice your rest or sleep, keep quality time for your own well-being.
  • Get some workouts
    You may have planned your visits and activities during this period, remember to allocate some times for exercise either alone or with family members. Start burning some calories whenever you are free especially if you have eaten too much of CNY snacks.
  • Stop smoking
    If you are not a smoker, don’t be one. If you are already a smoker, why not make it your 2023 resolution to quit smoking?
  • Safe social gathering
    The COVID infection cases sure will spike during social gatherings. Wear a mask whenever necessary, clean your hands frequently. If you are unwell, see a doctor.
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