Nutritionists urge people to eat less this lunar festival

By Tsai Shu-yuan and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Fri, Sep 13, 2013 - Page 5

The Mid-Autumn Festival holiday seems incomplete without a backyard barbecue feast with friends and family, but nutritionists have advised people to substitute sauce-laden meats with vegetables and to stay away from sugar-sweetened beverages to avoid weight gain and over-consumption of sodium.

The recommended caloric intake for one meal for adults weighing 60kg is about 1,800, but most people tend to get carried away and consume far more in one sitting during the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Thursday next week this year, nutritionist Kan Chen-hao (甘鎮豪) said.

“It’s easy to consume more than 1,500 calories at a barbecue if you drink 500ml of soda (250Cal) and eat two slices of pork (400Cal), two sausages (320Cal), two slices of toast (300Cal) and a cob of buttered corn (260Cal),” Kan said. “The problem is that most people eat a lot more than just that.”

Kan said 20g of barbecue sauce contains about 500mg of sodium and that all the foods listed above could contain as much as 2,500mg of sodium — higher than the maximum recommended daily level of 2,000mg for adults.

“If people with high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or kidney problems have too much grilled food, they could become susceptible to other ailments because of the high levels of calories and sodium in the food,” Kan said.

Greater Taichung Government Health Department head Hsu Chiung-wen (許瓊文) said people should start with vegetables because they contain cellulose and give a sense of fullness.

“People are advised to opt for low-fat meat products, seafood and skin-free chicken breast. They can season them with sea salt, scallions, ginger, garlic and chilies, or add some lemon juice to bring out the flavor in the food,” Hsu said.

Barbecue sauce can be diluted with water before being brushed on food, and repeat brushing should be avoided, Hsu said.