A bowl of ban mian in the hawer centre

Calories in Hawker Food

When lunch or dinnertime hits, It’s easy to just head to the food court or hawker centre and if we are not careful, we can end up with a 745-calorie fried kway teow complete with cockles and bits of crunchy lard, or a 756-calorie nasi biryani with chicken. Oops!

Healthy Hawker Choices - Tasty Doesn’t Have to be Unhealthy

Which are the healthier choices? Follow these expert tips to tuck into a hawker meal without busting the 500-calorie limit; because tasty can also be healthy.

1. Follow My Healthy Plate

A helpful guideline is My Healthy Plate, a friendly visual tool designed for Singaporeans.

My Healthy Plate

My Healthy Plate’s key eating habits are:

Related: My Healthy Plate

2. Swap Out the Deep-fried Stuff

A roll of popiah on a wooden block

Instead, choose steamed, braised, roasted or stir-fried dishes. Get fresh popiah instead of deep-fried spring rolls. Choose a braised soya sauce chicken instead of ayam goreng. The non-fried versions are still tasty and will be equally satisfying, especially for our waistlines.

Related: From Goreng to Grill — Healthier Cooking Methods

3. Sneak in More Vegetables and Fruit

Papaya salad

Think of vegetables and fruit as our fountain of youth — they are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, nutrients and fibre. If we are having economical rice, choose meat dishes that have some vegetables in them. If having soup dishes, request for more vegetables.

Related: Smart Ways to Fill Up on Vegetables and Fruits

4. Cut Down on Sauces, Gravy and Curry

Stir fried vegetables and meat with white rice and an egg

Generally, sauces, gravy and curry are high in calories, salt and sugar. Avoid adding gravy or curry to rice, and leave the sauces on the side for dipping. If you’re having salad, don’t drown it in dressing!

Related: 10 Hidden Sugars in Hawker Fare

5. The Whole Truth about Wholegrains

Wholegrain pasta with bolognaise sauce and mushrooms

Wholegrains contain fibre, have more flavour and provide bulk that helps us feel full longer. They are also important sources of nutrients like zinc, magnesium and vitamin B.

Opt for brown rice over white rice, or other whole grain options like chapatti, wholemeal pasta, or brown rice noodles.

Related: A Guide to Carbs

6. Suss Out the Fat

Traditional hor fun with shredded chicken and vegetables

Reduce the fat in our meals by asking for less oil, and avoid dishes with coconut milk and gravy (which are typically made from fat). Choose chicken breast instead of chicken thigh, and remove visible fat and skin from meat.

Singapore is a food paradise and the food courts are filled with all kinds of tasty and calorie-laden meals, but we can still find tasty, healthy 500-calorie choices. Look out for food stalls displaying the Healthier Dining Programme (HDP) decal that tells you the healthier options available.


Preventing Diabetes: Eat Healthily

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