Celebrating A Diabetes-Friendly Moon Festival

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This post is written by Karen Lau, ED, CDE, Research Dietitian in Joslin’s Asian American Diabetes Initiative (AADI) and was originall posted on September 25, 2015.

The August Moon Festival is one of the most important traditional Chinese festivals. This is a time for family reunions and to count the blessings from the past year. Lanterns will be lit that day, and families will enjoy delicious dishes together. Families from different cities in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong may celebrate with different festival foods, including taros, pears, pomelos and most importantly, mooncakes.

Mooncakes from different regions have different fillings, such as lotus seed paste, red bean paste, salted duck egg yolks or nuts and seeds. Traditionally, mooncakes are about 4 inches in diameter and 1.5 inches thick, with a thin soft crust. In recent years, smaller “mini mooncakes,” ice cream mooncakes, snowy mooncakes and reduced sugar mooncakes are also available. Regardless of the flavor, they generally are very rich and thick in texture. Below is a table of the average nutrition content of one whole piece of mooncake of different flavors.


*Based on a person weighing 150 pounds.

Most mooncakes are high in energy, carbohydrates, sugar and fat content. With some careful planning, people with diabetes can still enjoy the festival with this festive food. Here are five steps that you can take for having a healthier August Moon Festival meal:

– Offer more healthy food choices at the meal. Prepare some lean protein such as fish, and include a few healthy vegetable dishes.

– Reduce the amount of carbs such as rice, noodles or bread that you have from the main meal to balance out the carb that you will be having from the mooncake.

– Enjoy a quarter of a regular size mooncake or half of a mini mooncake.

– A reduced-sugar mooncake is still high in calories. Remember to limit the serving size to a quarter of a regular size mooncake or half of a mini mooncake.

– Enjoy the mooncake on the day of August Moon Festival, but remember to resume your usual meal plan the following day!

Making healthy food choices is the first step to a healthier festive season. Staying active is equally important to your health. Take a 15-20 minute walk after the meal. This will help in preventing the post-meal blood sugar surge. And you will also have an additional benefit of seeing a nice full moon!

This article originally appeared in the Sampan Newspaper, New England’s only bilingual English-Chinese newspaper serving the community since 1972.

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