While hotpot restaurants across the nation have seen a surge in reservations as temperatures have dropped in recent weeks, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said people should beware excessive weight gain.
According to ministry statistics, when dining at an all-you-can-eat hotpot restaurant, people usually consume an extra 3,100 calories compared with the average meal.
People weighing 60kg would have to jog 48km at a speed of at least 8kph to burn off the extra calories, or they could gain about 0.5kg, the statistics showed.
The ministry said that people who eat at a buffet-style hotpot restaurant once a week in winter could gain as much as 5kg.
However, the secret to enjoying a hotpot dinner without having to worry about getting fat lies in the soup base and the order in which the ingredients are consumed, ministry director Chiu Shu-ti (邱淑媞) said.
“For decades, I have only chosen clear seasoned broth or sea-tangle soup at hotpot restaurants. I always start my meals with vegetables, mushrooms and tofu to give my stomach a sense of fullness, before going for meat and other ingredients,” Chiu said.
Chiu said people should avoid processed ingredients, such as fried bean curd sheets and meatballs, and opt instead for chicken, fish or low-fat pork and beef slices.
As for dipping sauces, Chiu said she preferred mixing chopped green onion, garlic and mashed daikon radish with diluted seafood-based soy sauce.
However, as hotpots tend to contain high levels of sodium, which can increase blood pressure and cause gout or even strokes and heart attacks, elderly people should try to avoid such restaurants, Chiu said.