Chinese New Year is the time to celebrate another wonderful year of hard work and success. It gives you a chance to have a holiday from the office and to reset before another big year. It is a time to enjoy an abundance of food and spectacular shared meals.
You may find this time of year difficult when it comes to managing your health, and in particular, your diabetes. But there are some steps you can take to enjoy it all whilst not sacrificing your health in the process.
1) Get up and move after you eat
Let’s be honest; it is more than likely that you are going to overeat during this period. Sweet or savoury, we know it is difficult to say no to pineapple tarts, nian gao, peanut cookies or bak kwa.
The good thing is, even if you can’t say no to food, you can say YES to moving after a meal!
During CNY, make it a priority to go for at least a 10-15 minute walk after each main meal and snack session. This will help your body process all the rich food that you are eating. This movement could be as simple as a walk around the block or playing outside with the kids.
Another easy way to fit in more activity is to walk between houses when visiting friends and family. If the distance is too far, ask your family to drop you off a 10-15 minute walk away from the next house call. Walking between visits will give you quiet time to refresh in amongst the festivities.
How will moving after all this eating help? When you are active, your sensitivity to insulin improves. Your muscles are able to pick up more glucose from your blood, which lowers blood glucose levels. This response will vary, so check your blood glucose levels before and after exercise.
It is also a good idea to check your blood glucose levels before and after meals to see what is happening when you are overindulging during this period. Try not to bury your head in the sand – knowledge is power! It might be that seeing a high blood glucose number is motivation enough to scale it back at your next meal.
2) Plan an active family activity
This is no doubt a treasured time of the year when you have time off work and all your family around. Why not make the most of it and get active as a family? There are plenty of fun activities to be had that do not involve copious amounts of food!
- Walk along the Southern Ridges of Singapore
- Ride your bikes along the East Coast
- Trek through the jungle at MacRitchie Reservoir
- Stroll around Gardens by the Bay at night to admire the lights of this beautiful city
Whatever it is, make it something the whole family can enjoy whilst being active. If you all have fun, make it an annual family tradition.
3) Get ready to hit the ground running in the Year of the Monkey
If you move more and eat well this CNY, you are less likely to gain extra kilos from bringing in the Year of the Monkey. But if you do gain weight, you need to hit the ground running to shed those kilos so they are not still around in the Year of the Rooster!
In the 2-3 weeks after a period of overeating such as CNY, the body is likely to make some short term changes that make it easier for you to lose weight – this includes reducing your hunger levels and increasing your inclination to be active and burn more energy whilst doing so.
This is an opportunity that you can not afford to waste!
To make the most of these changes, take action immediately after CNY. Pay close attention to what you are eating, so as to avoid overeating. Be conscious of meal sizes and avoid snacking when you are not hungry.
Also try to get on the front foot with at least 30-60 minutes of exercise such as brisk walking per day.
If you can shed the kilos gained during CNY, you will put yourself in a stronger position for maintaining your weight throughout the year.
For some extra motivation, consider the alternative. If you let 1-2kg gained at CNY stay around this year and do the same next year, in 20 years time you could be 20-40kg heavier. A scary, but real possibility!
What do you want to do? Take action or let the weight creep on year after year?
In the Year of the Monkey, the choice is yours!