It probably won’t come as a big surprise that Chinese New Year is the second most challenging holiday for Malaysian consumers to continue exercising and eating healthily, after Ramadan and Hari Raya Puasa.
This is the result from Herbalife Nutrition’s Asia Pacific Holiday Eating Survey 2019, conducted with 5,500 respondents across Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Said Herbalife Nutrition Malaysia general manager/director Steven Chin: “Chinese New Year marks the time when families come together for reunion dinners and celebrate over good food.
“However, many tend to forget to eat healthily and their fitness goals are kept at bay during this festive season.
“We have uncovered some of the biggest challenges consumers face during Chinese New Year, with the hope of helping them identify their own habits to be able to maintain their health and fitness goals during the festivities.”
As a result of overeating and exercising less around the holidays, Malaysian consumers found themselves with an average increase of 3kg in weight following the Chinese New Year holiday.
To lose the weight, 62% of Malaysian consumers would eat healthier and 53% would make an effort to exercise more once the festivities are over.
Despite these efforts, 15% of Malaysian consumers did not manage to lose the weight they gained after the festive season, showing that maintaining healthy lifestyle habits throughout the festive season could be a better way to support long-term well-being.
As most of the countries in the survey have majority populations that celebrate the Chinese or Lunar New Year, it is hardly surprising that 91% of the respondents agree that Chinese New Year is the holiday season, compared to all other holidays, that they tend to feast or consume more food than usual.
For countries such as Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam, Chinese New Year is the most challenging holiday season to eat healthily and continue exercising.
In Malaysia, 88% of consumers tend to consume more food than usual during Chinese New Year, ranking slightly lower than the Asia Pacific average of 91%.
This statistic is also the highest among the major holidays celebrated in Malaysia, which include Ramadan/Hari Raya Puasa (83%), Deepavali (74%), Christmas (78%) and New Year (79%).
About 60% of Malaysian consumers eat less healthily than usual because they enjoy indulging in good food during the holidays, while close to half (48%) postpone healthy eating until after the holiday season.
However, close to half (48%) of them also said that they felt guilty for eating less healthily during the holidays.
Malaysian consumers also shared that sweet foods such as desserts were the hardest foods to give up during the holiday seasons.
When it comes to exercise, almost two-thirds of Malaysian consumers (65%) work out less as Chinese New Year approaches, with 55% postponing their exercise regime until after the holiday season.
This is also the highest decreased exercise and postponement rate seen among all the other major holidays that Malaysians celebrate.
While this year’s Chinese New Year celebrations have just ended, we still have many festive occasions left in the year to celebrate.
Here are some tips to help aid weight management during these upcoming holidays:
- Eat before the celebration
When you are hungry, it is tempting to start feasting as soon as you arrive at the family gatherings or reunions.
To prevent overeating, snack on healthy, protein-rich foods such as unsalted baked almonds, a protein bar or yoghurt, before heading to a family gathering.
- Focus on lean protein and vegetables
Instead of carbohydrate-heavy and rice-based dishes, select mains that include lean protein or salads and vegetables.
- Eat small portions slowly
Focus on the quality, and not the quantity, of food. Also take smaller portions and eat slowly.
Not only does this satisfy your craving for festive favourites, but it will also help your brain register when you are full before you start to indulge in more.
- Limit your sweetened beverage and alcohol intake
Consuming excessive amounts of sweetened beverages or alcohol is one of the biggest causes of weight gain.
To prevent this, limit your intake of such beverages and opt for plain water or unsweetened drinks instead.
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