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National Kidney Foundation – How to Have a Healthy Yet Happy CNY

A feature article by the National Kidney Foundation

As we usher in a new decade, 2020 is also the Year of the Rat, the beginning of the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle. Although the rat may not be everyone’s favourite animal, one could learn a thing or two from this lean and mean creature, as we get ready for Chinese New Year festivities with family and friends. With endless rounds of pineapple tarts at every open house, to the third Lou Sang of the day, followed by a 10-course dinner; CNY feasting can put a toll on your body and kidneys. 

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) of Malaysia is here to share some healthy eating tips to help you stay happy during and AFTER the celebration.

Go for smaller portions

It is always tempting to heap your plate with food at CNY open house buffet parties. But if you do so at every house you visit, one would almost certainly end the holiday feeling horribly uncomfortable.

Instead, take a cue from our rodent Si Fu (mentor) and try having smaller bites at each meal. One way around this is to use a smaller plate. This can help trick your brain and stomach into feeling full with much less. Scientists call this the ‘Delboeuf Illusion’.

Pick healthier snacks and ingredients

The furry chef in Ratatouille would suggest having some delicious yet healthy snacks in your cupboard. This is not only for your guests but for nights when you decide to raid the pantry for a midnight snack!

  • Nuts and seeds (eg. pistachios, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, melon seeds): High in fibre, protein and healthy fats, a handful of nuts or seeds can make for a nutritious snack, while fibre helps with satiety. Choose nuts that are roasted, baked or raw.
  • Fresh fruits: Fruits are packed with lots of healthy nutrients and can satisfy your sweet tooth.

Drink more water not sugar

The CNY season in Malaysia is usually hot and dry, hence the temptation to down buckets of cordial drinks during the holidays.

Sugary and carbonated drinks will only add extra calories to your diet, without other essential nutrients. A packet drink alone may already contain about 4 – 5 teaspoons of sugar (80 to 100 calories). For an average healthy adult, it is recommended not to exceed 50g (about 10 teaspoons) of sugar intake per day. This amount can be easily exceeded if sweetened beverages are consumed.

Your best option is still plain water and Chinese tea which is virtually free from calories.

Walk or cycle when visiting friends

If you are heading to several close-by locations for CNY visitations at your hometown, why not burn some extra calories with a leisurely stroll or bicycle ride? At your family gatherings, it might be a good time to spice things up with a daily steps-count competition on your smart-watches. Make it a new tradition!

While you don’t have to run on a treadmill like a lab rat, a slow walk after meals may be helpful to aid digestion. You can also create active opportunities to shed extra calories by playing badminton ‘over the gate’ with relatives or climbing the stairs instead of taking the lift.

The tips above are very basic and easy to apply. Healthy eating should become an integral part of our Malaysian lifestyle and Chinese New Year celebrations. Together with the NKF, let us celebrate the year 2020 with habits that nourish our wellbeing and make you a winner like the rat in the zodiac race.

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National Kidney Foundation of Malaysia

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Malaysia is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to helping Malaysians suffering from end stage kidney failure who lack access to or cannot afford dialysis treatment. NKF currently has over 1,700 dialysis patients receiving subsidized dialysis treatment in over 28 dialysis centres nationwide


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