It is Chinese New Year, so I am sure that many of you will be indulging in some yum cha. Especially in our Chatswood clinic, I see quite a few people of Chinese decent, and they always look at me guiltily when they tell me they’ve been to yum cha!
Why the guilt? Well yes, yum cha can end up being a smorgasbord of high kilojoule, high salt deliciousness!
So, how to choose healthy yum cha?
1. Choose your dumplings carefully: The pan fried variety, or those served in chilli oil are a much higher fat choice. Pork dumplings are often the dumpling of choice, however they are significantly higher in kilojoules than their prawn or vegetable counterparts; think approximately 240kJ versus 180kJ. If you prefer pork, have less…
2. Avoid anything fried in large quantities of oil: This includes crispy noodles and fried rice. Instead, choose boiled, stirfried or steamed noodles or boiled rice.
3. Steamed greens: Make sure Chinese broccoli and mushrooms are included in your order. This way you can fill up on greens, and Asian style mushrooms (such as shitake) are great for their anti inflammatory properties. Be careful of added oil that some restaurants use in their preparation.
4. Minimise the soy: Soy sauce is very high in sodium. 1 tsp has 344mg of sodium! Be careful with how much you add.
5. Take your time: You do not have to try everything that comes out. Choose to taste the things you know you will enjoy only, and take things slowly – they will always be bringing more out!
6. Enjoy the tea: Most restaurants bring pots of Chinese tea. This is a great choice. Don’t be afraid to order a second pot!
7. Minimise dessert: Yum cha desserts tend to be high sugar, high fat choices. Very small serves only, if you need it.
Now I am not saying that following this will provide a healthy, day to day diet, however using these strategies will help to make a possibly unhealthy situation better.
I hope you all have a wonderful Chinese new year, and the year of the horse brings you everything you wish for (including yum cha!).
Chloe McLeod is a dietitian at BJC Health.
This blog focuses on diet & nutrition generally and diet & nutrition in relation to the treatment of arthritis and arthritis-related diseases. Contact us if you'd like our help in managing diet-related health issues.