A Beginner's Guide to Making Better Food Choices in Singapore
Singapore is a food paradise renowned for its diverse culinary scene. From hawker centers to high-end dining establishments, the city-state offers a smorgasbord of delectable dishes that cater to every palate. However, making healthy food choices while dining out can be a daunting task, especially for beginners.
Approximately 24% of Singaporeans eat out daily, according to the National Nutrition Survey 2018 by DBS Bank, which found that 55% of Singaporeans eat out at restaurants once a week. The contemporary trend is influenced mainly by a fast-paced lifestyle.
How to eat healthier in Singapore
1. Research and Plan Ahead
Before heading out, take some time to research the restaurant or cafe you plan to visit. Many establishments in Singapore provide menus online, which can give you an idea of their offerings. Look for dishes that are rich in lean proteins, whole grains, and vegetables. Avoid places that mainly serve deep-fried or overly processed foods.
2. Choose Lean Proteins
To stimulate muscle growth and strength gains, it’s crucial to continually challenge your body. This is where the concept of progressive overload comes into play.
When choosing protein sources, opt for lean options like grilled chicken, fish, tofu, or lean cuts of meat. These choices are lower in saturated fats and provide essential nutrients. Seafood is particularly popular in Singapore and offers a variety of healthy choices, such as steamed fish or seafood salads.
Also be careful on how the protein is being cooked, as it can add on a lot of fats and calories to the protein. High fat cooking uses oil includes pan frying, deep-frying, sautéing, drowning foods in cream sauces or topping lower fat foods with high fat ingredients.
Aim for less calorie cooking method such as those that uses liquid such as braising, poaching, simmering, pressure cooking or methods that uses dry heat baking, microwaving, grilling and roasting (be careful of the oil though)
3. Load Up on Veggies
Vegetables are a fantastic way to add nutrients, fiber, and color to your meal. Seek out dishes that feature a variety of colorful vegetables, and consider ordering a side salad or vegetable-based appetizer. Many Singaporean dishes also incorporate vegetables, so look for options like stir-fries with plenty of greens.
As always, be careful of the cooking methods and the suaces that comes with it, which is the next point.
4. Be Mindful of Sauces and Dressings
Sauces and dressings can significantly impact the calorie and fat content of a dish. Choose dishes with lighter sauces, or request sauces and dressings on the side, allowing you to control how much you use. Alternatively, you can ask for healthier alternatives or simply drizzle a small amount over your meal.
5. Portion Control
Singaporean cuisine is known for its generous portions. To avoid overeating, consider sharing dishes with your dining companions or asking for a half portion. Alternatively, you can opt for appetizers or side dishes as your main meal. Additionally, some restaurants offer the option to customize your order, allowing you to tailor portion sizes to your appetite.
Be careful of underestimating your portions, this is one of the most common mistake make by a lot of people including our personal training students. We don’t advocate weighing your food because we promote sustainable personal training methods, and weighing food is often not practical. However, we do sometimes advice our student to weigh their food at the beginning of their weight loss journey and most of them are shocked how much they are underestimating their food portion and serving size.
6. Mindful eating and indulging
A robust technique for promoting healthy food selections is mindful eating. Take your time and enjoy every bite, focusing on the food’s flavour, aroma, and texture. This enables you to pay attention to your body’s signals of hunger and fullness, helping you avoid overeating. Reduce distractions like televisions and smartphones and concentrate on the dining experience.
It’s also okay to indulge occasionally. If there’s a dish you’ve been wanting to try, go ahead and enjoy it in moderation and always be mindful!
Eating out does not always have to be unhealthy
Navigating restaurant and cafe menus in Singapore can be an exciting adventure when armed with the knowledge and strategies to make better food choices. By planning ahead, reading menus mindfully, opting for lean proteins, loading up on vegetables, and being mindful of sauces and portion sizes, you can savor the diverse flavors of Singaporean cuisine while prioritizing your well-being.
Remember, making healthier choices is a journey, and every step you take contributes to your overall health and happiness.