A healthy new year

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Besides making travel plans and arranging family reunions, everyone is busy making tradition Tet food.

Doctors Bui Khac Hau, Nguyen Vinh Quang and Nguyen Hien have some tips on staying healthy over the Tet holidays.

Dr Hau suggests taking a nap for 30 to 60 minutes in the afternoon, and going to bed and getting up early as a matter of routine, rather than staying up late and sleeping in the next morning. Before going to bed, a little light exercise with simple movements should help you sleep well.

A relaxing walk in the fresh air is also recommended.

There's no getting around festive foods and drinks during the holiday season, but what you eat makes all the difference. It does you no good to consume unhealthy food and beverages.

Doctors Quang and Hien stress the importance of watching what you eat and drink around Tet. Here are their recommendations for buying, preparing and consuming food during the holidays.

- Choose fresh food and green vegetables.

- Make sure that meat and fish are vacuum sealed for safety.

- Avoid poultry and other domestic animal meat whose origins are unclear.

- Only buy confectionery and beverages with sealed lids and undamaged labels, and well before their expiry date.

- Do not stock too much food in the house and be sure to use it within three days. Food stored even in the fridge can spoil easily and become a breeding ground for nasty bacteria and toxins that play havoc with the body.

- Keep cooked and uncooked food well apart. Always use clean knives and separate chopping boards to cut meat, fish and vegetables.

- Only cook food in previously boiled water, to be sure of destroying any pathogens that might be lurking. It's a good idea to boil drinking water too.

- Don't cook a large quantity of food at once as there could be plenty left over to go bad.

- Cook food immediately after taking it out from the fridge as harmful bacteria only needs thirty minutes to gain a foothold and spoil the food. Don't leave food in the fridge for more than three days.

- Serve food as soon as it is cooked and do not reheat more than three times. Do not eat or serve leftovers after six hours without reheating them, and be sure to throw out any food that smells the least bit off.

- Choose food rich in vitamins and fiber rather than fat and sugar. The best in this regard are apples still in the skin, avocados, oranges, grapefruit, pears, pomelos, raspberries, carrots, peas, sweet potato, squash, rice, beans, pumpkin seeds, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, watercress, cabbage, milk, oats, bran cereal and whole wheat. Seafood and freshwater fish are also good, but only in moderation.

- Shun fast food as it piles on the pounds and lacks nutrients.

- Eat a whole bulb of grilled garlic or simply add garlic to cooked food to help prevent indigestion and diarrhea.

- Drink only one to two small glasses of light wine, beer or soda. Check the alcohol concentration and calorie count of the beverages you drink. Liquor can harm your health, and the higher the alcohol concentration, the more damage it does. Too much alcohol adversely affects the stomach, liver and nervous system.

- If you do overindulge, help your body rid itself of the alcohol by eating a bowl of hot, watery rice gruel or drinking 100ml of black coffee without sugar or ice, a glass of tea, or some pear or orange juice.

- The popular new year treats bánh tét, bánh ch^ng (traditional glutinous rice cakes, in shapes of cylinder or square, filled with green bean paste and fatty pork) and ch^ l^a (lean pork paste) should be steamed or fried if they've been in the fridge for over a week.

- Be careful with roast pork, steamed pork and bitter melon, Chinese sausages, vegetable pickles, Chinese onions, sugarcoated fruit, jam and confectionery either made at home or bought at the market before Tet as they can easily turn moldy if not preserved properly. In particular, Chinese sausages should always be grilled, steamed or fried before being eaten.

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