Healthy Hawker Foods: Local Food to keep your waistline in check
There are two kinds of people I meet whenever I am out eating with friends. One where they see carbs as their biggest nemesis, avoiding it at all cost but don’t mind ordering five pieces of fried chicken as their side dish. The other one would be the kind who orders rojak and say it’s healthy because it contains vegetables and fruits. Whatever it is, they lack knowledge when it comes to what actually defines “healthy”.The rule of thermodynamics, where calories in food versus calories out from your body is king when it comes to keeping your waistline in check. If you want to lose weight or maintain your weight, just don’t consume more calories than you burn. It’s that simple. However, I did not say it is easy especially when we are dining out. It is difficult for us to accurately judge the calories of food because the ingredients, method of cooking are kept unknown to consumers.
However, there are many easy tips to follow and I promise by the end of this article you will be able to make a better food choice judgement.
As a lucky individual who was born in a culturally rich country with so much food to choose from, I will not provide a to-eat and not-to-eat list because first, there are just too much food to cover and secondly, by educating you with some fundamental tips to follow, you will be able to be independent and smarter food choice on the fly regardless of whatever local delicacies you are bombarded with. Without further ado, here are some rules to follow if you want to look your best during your graduation with that curvy dress or suit while enjoying food like humans are supposed to.
#1 Soup, Soup Soup!
Whenever you are unsure of what to eat but want to make a quick judgement to impress your partner of your decisive skills, just stick with anything soupy especially if the same dish offers the dry version. Soup is a healthier alternative because you skip the oily sauce. Not only that, during the process of drinking the soup, you will actually feel fuller faster because your brain tricks you into thinking you are “full” when the stomach expands. Some examples of soup dishes are prawn mee soup, sliced fish bee hoon soup, wanton soup and so on. However, avoid soup which contains coconut milk at all cost. If you want to enjoy a bowl of creamy laksa, just don’t drink the soup like its water.
#2 Common Sense
Sometimes it doesn’t take a genius to know that anything crispy is unhealthy. If it is crispy, it is fried unless you are speaking about biscuits. If cucumber alone taste like cardboard but tastes like heaven after mixing it with the rojak sauce, your common sense should tell you that there’s something wrong with the rojak sauce. And yes, rojak sauce contains loads of sugar with some tamarind sauce which itself also contains sugar. This is how your rojak sauce is so thick and delicious. Some other examples are bean curd. Some bean curd tastes sweeter and smoother than their counterpart. However, common sense should tell you that soy beans by itself shouldn’t be sweet. If it is, you are probably eating sweetened bean curd.
#3 Hidden Ninja
Some foods can sound and look healthy but is hidden with calories. Take Yong Tau Foo for example, there are “mixed meat” options to choose from however it is often grounded with a high ratio of fat to make it tastier to reduce cost. Mixed rice sounds like a healthy choice right? Reasonable choices of vegetable to choose from as well as meat to boost your protein intake? But you’re wrong. Their vegetables are often tossed with oil to give it that shiny attractive look as well as to preserve it for a little longer. For the meat, since they cook it often with dark sauce, you can’t differentiate the colour between the lean meat and the fatty parts. So you might be eating fat all this while. In general, fats are what contribute to most of the excess calories. Therefore whenever possible, avoid skins, fats, excess gravy and especially lard.
# The Harmonious 3
If possible, always order any food with these three ingredients. Wheat, meat and vegetables. For example, skip char kuey teow (2 pieces of prawn doesn’t count) and opt for wanton mee. Food choices like duck rice, mushroom and minced pork noodles, lor mee, or fishball noodles are examples of meal that are more worth it calorie for calorie due to the extra protein and fibre. To further improve these dishes, ask for more veggies, switch thick noodles like egg noodles to thinner ones like bee hoon or request for sauce at the side.
# EXTRA Tips
Ever felt so hungry before that you’d eat so much so quickly that the moment you stop, you come to realise how full you actually were?The reason is that it takes about 20 minutes for our brains to register that we’re full. If we eat fast, we can continue eating past the point where we’re full. If we eat slowly, we have time to realise that we’re full, and stop on time. So, put your utensils down, chew and enjoy more eye contact with your meal partner.
To conclude, food is a lifestyle and the saying “you are what you eat” holds true here. The Key is to eat in moderation, so that not only you can afford to enjoy the sinful food once in a while to keep you sane, you will also not be excluded by friends when eating out by saying “why ask him/her out? He/She is just going to be eating the low-carb bread in the pantry alone anyways”. Don’t stress out when you have eaten a bad meal because one meal doesn’t make one unhealthy but unfortunately one healthy meal doesn’t make one healthy too. Look forward, make better decisions, good or bad, and take ownership of your choices now.