Chinese New Year (CNY) is a big thing in Singapore. Apart from the red packets, there is always the food, which seems to come in endless supply. It would be easy to avoid overeating by if I could avoid temptation. Unfortunately, this is the time where we visit people or people come to visit to catch up. Now all good hosts know it is their sacred duty to provide CNY goodies. It is unthinkable to have no CNY goodies to serve the hungry guests. Thankfully, I am not that big on CNY goodies. Even so, I still have a few weaknesses that I cannot resist. The names of these criminals are pineapple tarts and dried shrimp rolls. Since I cannot avoid temptation, I have compiled a list of measures to deal with it.
1. Never Visit on an Empty Stomach
When I am hungry, I tend to eat without thinking. And you can imagine how it goes with the tarts and shrimp rolls. I can just keep popping them into my mouth like there is no tomorrow. In the space of an hour or less, I can easily finish a box. There goes my lunch or dinner. To avoid this lack of self-control, I fill my stomach with a light meal or snack before I visit. It does help if the light snack is not the tarts or shrimp rolls. If I start on an empty stomach, it will be hard for me to stop. Preferably, the meal is healthy and by doing so, I will be less inclined to eat so much CNY goodies.
2. Ration the Cravings
A man dying of thirst is likelier to kill himself by drinking too much water at the first opportunity. The same principle applies to overeating. If I allow my craving the build, the likelier it is that I will overeat. There are two ways to approach this. I could eat the tarts and shrimp rolls year round so that I am not that fond of them during CNY. Unfortunately, I did not have any for the whole of last year, so this method is out. It is a curious thing about CNY; I only crave the goodies during this period.
The other approach is to ration myself. If I have the jar of pineapple tarts in my hand, I am likelier to finish it by myself. Better to share the goodies with others so that I have less to eat. By controlling my intake in small portions, I am less likely to overeat.
3. Eat Slowly
My normal practice is to rush through a box of CNY goodies as if I would not get enough to eat. In the process of rushing, I do not really taste what I eat. To compound the problem, it takes time for the stomach to feel full. Often when I eat very quickly, I only realize later that I have overeaten when I feel bloated and suffer from indigestion. By the time my stomach catches up with me, it is too late. There is wisdom in chewing our food and eating slowly. By doing so, I give myself more time to digest my food and hence stop myself from overeating.
4. Drink Lots of Water
Drink lots of water. This is the mantra going through my head for this CNY. Normally, I drink a lot of water, at least 7-8 large glasses a day. Not only does water hydrate my body, it also helps with my digestion. When I eat CNY goodies without water, it is easy for me to eat to the point of indigestion. But eating and drinking water at the same time ensures that my stomach has less room for the goodies. This is turn prevents me from overeating.
5. Awareness and Reminders
It is easy for me to overeat if I do not know the true contents of my food. This awareness does help me to moderate myself because I am health conscious. For example, I used to like bak kwa when I was younger. But bak kwa is rather oily. Just eating one piece can get my fingers coated with oil, which is rather hard to come off. And so over the years, I slowly stopped eating it. As for the tarts and the shrimp rolls, just reading what goes into them is a good reminder for me not to overeat.
6. A Multi-Prong Approach
The bigger the problem is, the greater the need to tackle it from different angles. Each of the methods above may not be effective on its own for me. There is always the possibility that I would succumb to temptation. But by applying all of them together, each method can reinforce the others and stop me from overeating.
If you are interested in learning how to make pineapple tarts and shrimp rolls, here are the recipes:
Do you overeat when it comes to food? What ways and ideas do you have to prevent yourself from overeating? Do share your thoughts and comments below.