Following up on our previous article about the bad eating habits that could arise after years of eating at hawker centres, this article would be an extension to help guide you on the path to eating healthier and better at hawker centres.
The Healthier Choice
With a push from the government to eat healthier, more and more hawkers are offering healthier options and ingredients for their customers to enjoy their favourite dishes without the lingering guilt at the end of mealtime. That could be either the use of less oil or less sugar which would radically switch up your diet for the better. When you use less of these products, your body can function at peak performance and those pesky acne breakouts are less likely to happen.
If you are at a mixed rice or Nasi Padang stall, something that you should know is that no two dishes are the same. Depending on how a dish is prepared and cooked, your selection could easily make or break your plan towards a healthier lifestyle. A simple comparison could be done with curry chicken and boiled chicken — on an estimate, your serving of curry chicken would come up to twice the amount of calories and fat than its boiled counterpart. Try limiting dishes that are rich in gravy or curry and the same goes for those that are deep fried as well. Another thing that you could do is to opt for dishes that are not rich in sauces since they could very easily mess up your sodium intake. It goes without saying that you should also start by increasing the servings of vegetables on your plate like baby kailan, brinjal and stewed vegetables, just to name a few. When you include vegetables, you are increasing your dietary fibre intake alongside the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals to feed and nourish your system.
Beverage On The Side
It seems rather unsettling to envision a meal without drinks since it has been almost customary to pair our food with a beverage on the side. What is Nasi Lemak without Bandung? What is Chicken Rice without lime juice to accompany it? But did you know that these drinks at the side actually fill us up with a whole load of sugar? The recommended amount of added sugar each day should not be any more than 11 teaspoons and that number could easily be met when we load up on either sugary drinks or fruit juices! But the good news is that there are a number of healthier alternatives to our favourite sugary drink. Hankering for a thirst-quenching drink? How about opting for unsweetened versions of coffee or tea or stick to a chilled bottle of water?
Brown Over White
While it might seem atrocious to pair your Nasi Lemak with brown rice, it could really make a difference post-lunch. Did you know that when you consume white rice, you are losing out on the precious nutrients that you would reap from brown rice? Despite what we think, brown rice and white rice are not the same. Brown rice is categorised as a whole grain and unlike white rice, it retains the fibrous bran and germ that are one of the most nutritious bits of the grain. If you are still not convinced over making the switch, brown rice has actually been found to help with weight control since it contained much more fibre and antioxidants which would support your body’s overall health and functioning.
It has to be said that brown rice is also much more suitable for those with risks of heart disease. Within brown rice are plant compounds called lignans that help shield us from heart-related problems since they have been found to reduce the amount of fat in the blood. Just by making the switch, you are lowering your risk of heart disease by about a quarter. The same can be said for those who are suffering from diabetes. It has been found that the high consumption of white rice often leads to an increased likelihood of diabetes and this is believed to be the high glycemic index in white rice. Brown rice has a much lower glycemic index of about 50 compared to 89 in white rice and that would help ensure one’s blood sugar level doesn’t rise and fall that easily.
Eating healthy at your usual hawker centre haunt is entirely possible since there are so many alternatives for you to choose from. However, that decision to eat healthier is a tough one given how many distractions there can be (we are talking about your char kway teow and rojak). What we are saying is not to entirely subtract them out from your diet, but to make these guilty pleasures an occasional one and to be more firm about eating less sodium, sugar and fat and eating more fibre and protein. All the same, if you are one who likes a table full of food before tucking in, you are running the risk of consuming way more than you need and that is an extremely dangerous habit.