HOW times flies! Yet another festive season has come and gone. True to the joy of the occasion, we had an abundance of open houses, functions and rich delicacies to be enjoyed. For many, the overindulgence may have made you gain some unwanted weight.

Don’t ignore the signs that your clothes are a little tighter. Left unchecked, this slight weight gain will never budge — only to be added onto when the next festive season rolls around.

Here’s how to get back on track the practical, sensible way:


Don’t start extreme dieting where you eat very little to lose the festive weight gain.

When your body isn’t getting enough energy from food, it hangs on to body fat as a fuel source.

In the first few days of extreme dieting, you will notice some weight loss. It’s not body fat loss. It’s due to losing water weight and some lean muscle tissue.

Once you start eating again, you’ll certainly gain back all the weight you thought you lost and feel like a complete failure. A better, more sensible approach is to eat a balanced portion.


Eat a variety of foods in the right proportion to get energy, as well as key vitamins and minerals.

The idea is to eat better, not ridiculously less.

To get a good visual guide of a sensible portion each time you eat, just keep this in mind: Fill half of your plate with vegetables, a quarter of the plate with a grain and the other quarter with a lean protein.

You won’t feel deprived as you’re eating a full plate of food but in a balanced proportion.

It’s a simple, uncomplicated way to eat to shake off the kilos after overindulging.


Festive favourite dishes are rich and heavy. Now that you’re trying to get back on track, choose meals that are prepared with less oil.

A better choice for a light meal are soup dishes, salads, ulam, steamed or lightly braised dishes. If it’s oily, then give it a miss.


People who have successfully lost weight start with their head — by changing their overall mental attitude towards it. (pic source :

One very effective way to eat lighter is to pack lunch from home instead of eating out. It can be just about anything — a wholesome sandwich, a quick homemade noodle, fried rice or leftover from last night’s dinner.

Add on a piece of fruit to complete your work-day lunch for a touch of natural sweetness.


Now that the festivities are over, cut down on sugary drinks as these are full of empty calories.

Don’t drink your calories. Drink water instead. (File pic :

Instead, drink more water. Water contains zero calories and is your body’s much-needed beverage to rehydrate and maintain proper fluid balance.

You should aim to drink two to three litres of water every day, unless you are on a fluid restriction for whatever medical reason.

The plus side to drinking more water is that it helps you to feel full. So, as you are getting back on track, have a large glass of water before a meal to help you not over-eat.


When you need a snack, don’t reach for the cookies and tidbits. Have a piece of fresh fruit or a handful of nuts.

Sometimes, when I’m craving a salty snack, I just have a small piece of cheese. Always drink a glass of water when you are contemplating having a snack. Sometimes, you may just be thirsty and not really hungry.


The festive time may have thrown you off your usual exercise routine. Don’t fall off the bandwagon now! Get back into your exercise routine as it benefits your mind, body and soul.

It burns calories, strengthens your muscles and reduces stress. Aim to exercise at least three times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes.

If you are feeling a little sluggish, don’t fret. Just start slow, but be consistent.

Also, don’t forget that any movement such as using the staircase instead of the elevators or even parking your car a little further from your destination burns calories without you truly feeling it.


Here’s a salad I like after I have overindulged on heavy meals. It has got protein and a nice crunch from the roasted tempeh.

All the ingredients are easily found in the supermarket.

Serves 2


240g tempeh — cut into very thin bite-size slices

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 small head Romaine lettuce — roughly chopped

1 small carrot — finely julienne

1 cup baby Arugula leaves

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes — sliced in half

1 medium red onion — thinly sliced


Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

In a bowl, season the cut tempeh with the ground cumin, black pepper and cayenne pepper.

Bake the tempeh for about five minutes or till lightly crispy. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix all the vegetables and tempeh chips. Then toss with the dressing. Serve immediately.


2 tbsp vinegar

3 tbsp honey

2 tbsp Dijon mustard


Put all the ingredients into a clean jar. Screw on the lid and give it a good shake to blend.

Adjust the taste if necessary.

Nutrition analysis (per serving):

Calories: 187

Protein: 1g

Carbohydrate: 16g

Total fat: 1g

Fibre: 10g

* Indra Balaratnam is a consultant dietitian who believes in simple, practical ways to eating well and living healthy. She can be reached at

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