How to resist those lovely snacks when visiting

It is hard to resist a yummy Chinese New Year spread, but staying hydrated will help to curb food cravings.
It is hard to resist a yummy Chinese New Year spread, but staying hydrated will help to curb food cravings.PHOTO: GRAND COPTHORNE WATERFRONT HOTEL

Sweet treats beckon at every Chinese New Year gathering.

They are hard to resist but the more sugar you consume, the more your body expects it. And the less sugar you take, the less your body expects it.

The good thing is, there are ways to train the sweet-taste receptors in the mouth and gut, and turn that sweet tooth into a healthier one.

Here are some suggestions.

1. Use fruit as sweeteners:  Instead of sugar, use fruit purees, dried fruit or fruit juices in your baking, cooking or drinks, said the Health Promotion Board.

2. Serve dried fruit snacks: These snacks contain more calories than fresh fruit, but they are a better option than chocolate and candies.

3. Eat regularly: This might sound strange, but going without food for a long time causes your blood sugar levels to drop. This makes you ravenous and crave for sugary snacks.

4. Avoid going for house visits on an empty stomach: This will make it less likely for you to overeat or overindulge on festive treats. One way is to have a stash of healthy snack bars, which you can eat whenever you feel hungry.

5. Stay hydrated: This helps to curb cravings, said Ms Lynette Goh, a senior dietitian at National Healthcare Group Polyclinics.

If you are not drinking enough fluids, you are likely to indulge in more snacks. Taking fluids induces a sense of fullness, she said.

6. Eat your calories, rather than drink them: Be selective about what you eat. It is easy to lose track of the amount of food and sweet beverages you take during house visits.

Soft drinks and sweet beverages are full of empty calories.

Ask for plain water or unsweetened tea, or take along a bottle filled with water and slices of lemon and cucumber, said Ms Goh.

7. Exercise portion control: If there is something you really like, go ahead and eat it, but in small portions, she said.

For example, cut a slice of bak kwa into bite-sized pieces and limit yourself to a fixed number of pieces per day.

8. Spend time chatting with relatives and friends: It is also good to position yourself as far away as you can from the snack table, said Ms Goh.

Joyce Teo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2017, with the headline 'How to resist those lovely snacks when visiting'. Print Edition | Subscribe