Celebrated on the 15th day of the lunar eight month, the Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as the Mooncake Festival – a nod to the widely popular tradition of having this pastry during the occasion. Traditionally baked with lotus paste filling, the mooncake now comes in a wide-ranging variety of flavours and fillings.

While mooncakes come in different types and tastes, they are similar in that they generally contain high calories, carbohydrates and fats. There is also hardly any fibre, protein or vitamins – which are important components of a balanced diet – to be found in the pastry.

"Mooncakes overload our body but have little nutritional value. It is advisable that we eat them as an occasional treat instead of taking them as a main meal, especially for people with diabetes," said Javier Won, Dietitian from Sengkang Community Hospital (SKCH). "Even with the low-sugar options, we should practise moderation when indulging in mooncakes."

Photo: SingHealth Community Hospitals

With the Mid-Autumn Festival coming up on 13 September, Javier shares some tips for us to eat our mooncakes sensibly.

  • Share it with your family and friends as a dessert

A general rule of thumb is to practise portion control. Try to limit yourself to one-eighth of an average-sized mooncake and share the rest with those around you. Don't eat on an empty stomach as this may lead to overeating. Instead, have the mooncake as a dessert after a healthy balanced meal.

  • Reduce your carbohydrates intake

If you plan to enjoy mooncake as a sweet treat after your meal, reduce your usual rice or noodle intake by about a quarter. This will prevent you from consuming excess carbohydrates and prevent a hike in blood sugar levels for those with diabetes. 

  • Compare and choose wisely

Snow skin mooncakes generally contain less calories compared to the traditional ones. However, this may not be the case, depending on the filling - an average-sized durian snow skin mooncake can contain up to 900kcal of calories. Compare the nutritional values and the ingredient list before purchasing your mooncake and go for healthier options like the low-sugar or low-fat ones.

  • Have them with non-sweetened drinks

Mooncakes are already packed with sugar. Quench your thirst with drinks such as traditional Chinese tea or non-sweetened green tea. Tea not only contains antioxidants but is a fragrant and perfect pairing for this sweet treat.