Family Health

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Snacking is a great way to boost your energy level

Research shows it is better to eat several small meals throughout the day than to eat three large meals. Besides keeping your energy level up, this also prevents unhealthy bingeing.

However, you must be mindful of what you snack. Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to go all out with your food. The same good-diet principles apply: Avoid high sugar, high fat, and high cholesterol snacks.

So if you’re in need of a little pick-me-up, reach for that high-protein bar to boost your blood sugar level. Or if you want to fill up on your nutritional needs, then reach for that yoghurt topped with crunchy muesli for your calcium and fibre requirements.

Here are some snack suggestions during the different times of the day:

Mid-morning Munchies

If your toddler or baby has kept you up all night, then you’ll need these snacks to jump start your metabolism. Here are some suggestions:
• Flu Fighter – Blend some strawberries, kiwi, green apple and orange with a dash of honey to taste.
• Go for a protein and carbohydrate combo, such as a teaspoon of peanut butter on plain crackers.
• Plain yoghurt topped with crushed almonds or cubed fruit makes for a great mid-morning snack.
• Spread margarine on a piece of wholemeal bread, and top it with bananas to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Grab-and-go Lunch

Don’t have time to eat a proper lunch? Pack a light lunch to meet your nutritional needs:
• Make a tuna salad with water-packed tuna, a mix of salad leaves, baby tomatoes, onion slices and chunks of green apple. If desired, drizzle some light salad dressing.
• Spread a mixture of miso paste and Japanese plum paste (can be found in the Japanese aisle of supermarkets) on a piece of salmon and grill. Eat with slices of tomato and Japanese cucumber.
• Boil some brown rice porridge with a mixture of vegetables, such as carrot, peas, potatoes and cabbage. You can top it with some minced meat, such as pork or beef.
• Fill two slices of wholewheat bread with slices of avocado, tomato and salad leaves.

Mid-afternoon Snack

• A handful of unsalted almonds
• 1 cup of mixed fruit
• Half cup of mixed nuts, pumpkin seeds and dried fruit such as apricot and prunes

Late Night Supper

• Decaffeinated green tea or Korean citron tea (available from Takashimaya food hall)
• Cucumber or carrot sticks with an Indian-inspired yoghurt dip
• A bowl of homemade beef or chicken broth

Yoga for eternity health

There’s no doubt that yoga is hot among women. But among teenage boys? It’s certainly hard to imagine.

“They were quite against it at first,” admits Amy Yip with a laugh, of her two sons, Colin Lee, 17 and Gabriel, 14. Amy, a yoga enthusiast, was hooked after attending an inspiring retreat at Yoga Thailand school in Koh Samui two years ago. Her husband Gary Lee, soon caught her enthusiasm and became just as keen.

Persuading their “very athletic” teenage boys, however, was a little difficult. Basketball was more their thing; yoga seemed like a girlie recreational activity.

“Just try,” said their parents. Out of respect, and to “give us ‘face'” the two boys grudgingly agreed to join mum and dad in their Saturday morning class at Pure Yoga. “They grumbled about waking up at 7am and not being able to sleep in,” recalls Amy.

Strengthening bonds

That was two years ago. Today, both Colin and Gabriel willingly wake up at 5.50am every weekday morning to practise yoga for 30 minutes before school. They think yoga’s “kinda cool” now, especially Ashtanga Yoga, which the whole family practises. Ashtanga is a dynamic, physically more demanding yoga style that includes lots of gymnastic moves, making it a more popular choice among men who take up yoga.

“Just applaud, encourage and praise them. When they surpass us, they feel great,” shares Amy on motivating her boys. It helped, too, that Celeste, their yoga teacher, is strong and muscular, which made the boys realise yoga’s “not for weak women”.

Gary and Amy, who are Buddhists, started yoga for health reasons. But they’re happy the benefits have spilled over to other areas of their lives. Family bonding is one. With yoga being a common passion now, the family can’t think of a better way to spend their weekends than at yoga classes together.

The rest of the week, father and sons connect over morning practice sessions at home, and Gary and Amy have their couple time when they attend yoga class while the boys are at school.

Gary, 47, was born in Shanghai, while Amy (who declines to give her age, except to say that she’s “forever 25”) hails from Hong Kong. The Singapore permanent residents run a business selling health supplements and their children attend the Singapore American School.

A calmer household

Yoga has also enabled Amy “to see the light”, she quips. Yoga advocates deep, steady breathing, and regular practice can calm the mind and body. “I used to easily lose my temper, but now I don’t sweat over the small stuff,” she says. There’s less shouting and arguing in the Lee home, and both parents show more patience when dealing with the day-to-day stresses of parenting, she adds.

They are also glad that the boys picked up yoga during the teenage years, which are the “most critical stage of development”. As a result of this, “they’re more cheerful, more focused and more disciplined”, observes their mum. For sure, waking up early to spend regular time on yoga is definitely a healthier option than whiling away the hours on the Internet, video games or lolling in bed, she adds.

The discipline instilled has helped Colin and Gabriel, who are both in the basketball and volleyball school teams, concentrate better in their studies and sports. Physiologically, they’re able to recover faster from injuries, as yoga postures stretch and strengthen the body’s connective tissues.

Stretching their horizons

Yoga has become such an integral part of the family that even holidays are planned around yoga retreats. The family has been to Yoga Thailand as well as Purple Valley Yoga Centre in Goa, India.

Recently, Amy took a one-month yoga “pilgrimage” during the school summer break to Mysore, India, with Colin. They rented a room with an Indian family, and the main purpose of their trip was to see K. Patthabi Jois, a revered 91-year-old yoga master teaching there.

“We would wake up at 4am to arrive at the master’s shala (a yoga studio) for the 5am class. The shala is full of such positive energy, you feel your practice has improved just by entering it,” she recounts.

On some days, they would attend cooking lessons. “My son enjoyed the cooking classes more than me, and he cooked roti with tomato chutney when we came back!”

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