The best food in Singapore, it has been said, can be found at Singapore's many food courts. Dining at the food court is fast and affordable, but is it good for your health?
As a general rule, healthy meals:
1. Are cooked with less oil/ fat;
2. Have less sugar;
3. Have more fibre.
Here are some ideas on how to make healthy choices at the food court:
When having "economy rice" dishes...
|Steamed, stewed, braised or stir-fried dishes
||Fried dishes, e.g. sweet and sour dishes, deep-fried dishes |
|Dishes without added fat in the gravy
||Curry dishes and asking for curry gravy on your rice|
|Vegetables stir-fried with soya sauce or oyster sauce
||Sambal (chilli-based sauce) dishes|
|Chicken or duck without the skin
||Chicken or duck with the skin|
|More vegetable-based dishes e.g. 1 meat + 2 vegetables. Pick tofu as a meat option.
||Dishes with only meat, no vegetables|
Ask for less rice - most economy rice stalls give too much. Some examples of healthy economy rice meals:
- Steamed tofu with minced pork + shanghai greens in oyster sauce + stir-fried mixed vegetables
- Chicken stir-fried with ginger + long beans stir-fried with sliced red chilli and onions + stir-fried Chinese cabbage
- Stingray in assam (tamarind) gravy + stir-fried bitter gourd + stir-fried cauliflower and carrots
When having noodle dishes...
Ask for less noodles and more vegetables. Examples of healthy noodle meals:
|Soup-based noodles; or ask for no added oil in dry noodles dishes
||Dry or fried noodles|
|Noodle dishes without added fat in gravy
||Coconut milk / lemak-based dishes, e.g. lontong and laksa lemak |
|Sliced red chilli or pickled green chilli (but go easy on the light soya sauce to prevent excessive salt intake) as a condiment
||Minced meat |
|Garnishings that are not fried
- Yong tau foo / Chinese soup dish
- Sliced fish noodles
- Seafood soup with rice or noodles
- Ban mian (handmade noodle soup) with sliced chicken or fish instead of minced pork. Avoid asking for more fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies) and fried shallots
- Penang laksa
- Dry wanton noodle with no added oil, and pickled green chilli as condiment
When having Western meals...
|For entrees: fresh garden salad or non-cream soups
||Meat-based items (e.g. buffalo wings, calamari rings) and cream-based soups |
|For main meals: grilled, roasted or pan-seared items
||Battered and deep-fried items.|
|For pasta dishes: tomato-based
||Cream-based or white sauces, and go easy on the parmesan cheese |
|For sandwiches: multigrain bread, non-creamy fillings and dressings (e.g. roast chicken)
||Thousand-island dressing. |
Ask about changing the French fries to baked potato (but with chives/spring onions and less sour cream and bacon bits)
When having ethnic meals...
- Chicken rice – ask for steamed white rice and remove the skin from the chicken.
- Avoid roti prata (pratha), puri or bhatura, but choose chapati, dosa (thosai) or idli with chickpeas and dahl (lentil) chutney instead. Omit the coconut chutney.
- Instead of lontong, mee rebus or mee siam, choose chicken macaroni soup or bee hoon soto.
When ordering drinks and desserts...
- Choose mineral water or tea/coffee with less sugar and less evaporated milk/condensed milk
- Choose fresh fruit and limit desserts to twice a week (choose those without coconut milk and also ask for less sugar)
To control your weight, limit fat and alcohol, and eat moderate amounts of protein and carbohydrate. For example, you can eat rice or noodles for lunch and dinner, but avoid sweet drinks and desserts.
Fill up on fibre to beat hunger by eating more vegetables, choosing brown rice over white rice, and wholemeal bread over white bread. Having a bowl of non-creamy soup at mealtimes and a moderate serving of protein (meat, fish, chicken, tofu, or beans) also fills you up with nutrients, not empty calories.