Whether or not you have family in town, it's likely that you've been over-indulging this Lunar New Year. We all know that feeling - you gather with family at your grandparents' and get force-fed your favourite festive treats, then head to an aunt and uncle's for lunch, before heading to a restaurant for dinner with all your cousins …
Even if you don't celebrate the new year, you've probably been eating less-than-healthy meals this holiday. All this over-eating can lead to bloating, which can make you feel miserable. So for the rest of the holiday, make smarter food choices, ease the bloat, and head to your first lessons in the Year of the Monkey feeling fabulous.
Start the day with a bowl of Bircher muesli (see box) for a nutrient-dense breakfast loaded with good carbs. This will keep you feeling fuller for longer, so you'll resist the temptation to gorge on goodies the moment you set foot inside your relatives' home.
Oats are rich in soluble fibre which not only helps to regulate blood glucose levels but can help to lower blood cholesterol too. By adding mixed berries rich in vitamin C and anti-oxidants, you're giving your immune system a boost. Chia seeds are rich in fibre, help boost friendly bacteria in the gut, and are an excellent source of omega 3 fats which help to raise "good" cholesterol levels in the blood. Leave the the skin on the apples, and you increase your fibre, vitamin and mineral intake too, since the majority of vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and folate lie just underneath the skin.
Throughout the day
If you've overindulged on sugary snacks, sip green tea. It's rich in flavanols which protects against tooth decay by reducing the action of bacteria that leads to plaque build-up.
Ginger is great for your digestion after all those big meals and constant snacking, so add it to simple soups for lunch or dinner. Carrot and ginger, for example, is a match made in heaven.
Probiotic yogurts help to keep harmful bacteria at bay and nourish the healthful ones. Snack on these between meals together with fibre and fruits rich in vitamin C.
If you're too busy collecting lai see to do even basic exercise, try to do some simple stretches an hour after meals. Stretching can help you digest, and will keep you limber so that next week's PE classes aren't so tough.
After an exhausting day of receiving red packets and eating sweets (and more sweets), replenish your energy and nutrient levels with a quick snack, like a banana and almond butter sandwich on wholegrain bread. Wholegrains are rich in complex carbs and B group vitamins which help to keep the nervous system and skin healthy, while bananas and almond butter are great sources of an amino acid called tryptophan which makes you sleepy.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
100g whole rolled oats
1 Fuji or Jazz apple, cut into quarters, core removed, grated
125ml milk of your choice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp toasted hazelnuts
1 tbsp toasted sunflower seeds
2 tbsp plain yogurt and handful mixed berries to serve
1) Mix the oats, apple, milk and cinnamon in a bowl until well combined. Cover and put in the fridge overnight.
2) Stir in the chia and sunflower seeds, and half the hazelnuts.
3) Top with yogurt, berries, and remaining nuts, then serve.