Eating out is almost second nature to people in Singapore where food options are aplenty. About 60 per cent of Singapore residents eat out at least four times a week, according to the latest National Health Survey. Here are some tips to eat healthily while you are out for a meal.
1. PLAN AHEAD
If you know you will be heading out for dinner, cut back on your calorie intake earlier in the day by eating lighter meals. You can also check a restaurant's menu online - if it has a website - before making a reservation, to see if it offers healthier dishes.
2. GO EASY ON APPETISERS AND DRINKS
You may be compelled to snack on tit bits and order an appetiser or a drink while waiting for your family or friends to arrive.
But many appetisers, such as deep-fried finger food, are high in calories and saturated fat.
Sweetened and alcoholic drinks offer mostly empty calories. Instead, go for plain water, Chinese tea or flavoured low-calorie soda.
3. READ THE MENU CAREFULLY
Avoid items with these descriptions: crispy, deep-fried, in cream sauce, lemak, with coconut milk, or in syrup.
Such items tend to be higher in calories. Bear in mind that steamed, grilled, roasted or pan-fried dishes are lower in calories.
If you do not understand the fancy names on the menu, ask the waiter or counter staff to explain how it is prepared.
When placing your order, specify that you want your dishes prepared with less oil, salt and other seasonings with high sodium content. Ask for sauces, such as salad dressing, to be served on the side, so you can decide the amount to add.
4. ORDER A VARIETY
For a balanced meal, order a staple, one or two vegetable side dishes, and one or two protein-rich items such as tofu, fish or lean meat.
Try not to order more than one or two deep-fried or oily and fatty dishes per meal. Have fruit for dessert, or opt for one with less sugar, syrup or cream.
At hawker centres, choose noodles in clear soup instead of one laden with gravy, for example. Go for plain rice, instead of rice cooked in coconut milk or fat. Avoid fried items and trim the fat off meat.
5. EAT JUST ENOUGH
Gauge the portion of the plate against the usual portion you eat at home and try to stick to the latter.
If you cannot finish a meal, ask the staff to bag it for you to bring home.
At buffets, zoom in on your favourite items in each section and eat no more than your regular portion. If you want to try it all, take no more than a small spoonful of each item.
Stop eating when you feel three-quarters full. Eat slowly as this will give your stomach enough time to tell you that you are feeling full.
And when it comes to fast food, refrain from upsizing even though it seems like a good deal. Instead, select items that are grilled, and replace deep-fried sides with healthier choices like a salad.
Do not be afraid to ask for the healthier option.
SOURCE: HEALTH PROMOTION BOARD
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.