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Trying to eat better? It’s not always easy to have a meal that has wholegrains, protein, and fruit and veggies in balanced amounts, especially if we eat out a lot.

This week, we’ll learn how to use My Healthy Plate to build balanced meals when dining out.

Dining Out, Not Missing Out

At hawker centres or food courts, we typically see dishes that feature carbs as main component, with some protein and veggies thrown in.

For example, char kway teow is mostly carbs — kway teow — fried with a handful of protein like hum and lup cheong, and a few strings of chye sim.

Another local favourite, chicken rice, comes with chicken (protein), oily rice (carbs), and a few slices of cucumber (greens) — also skewed towards the protein and carb side.

What can we do to balance such meals?

Related: Eating Light at a Hawker Centre

Contemplate My Healthy Plate

Here’s where My Healthy Plate comes in; it’s a simple visual guide to remind us to eat balanced and nutritious meals.

My Healthy Plate 

Make your plate healthy and balanced in three steps:

  1. Fill half your plate with fruit and veggies

  2. Fill a quarter with wholegrains

  3. Fill a quarter with meat and other proteins

My Healthy Plate 

Related: My Healthy Plate

Pack More Punch Per Plate

Now let’s put this tool to the test with real-world examples.

Greener On The Other Side

It’s easy to build a healthy plate if you’re ordering mixed vegetable rice (2 veg + 1 meat + brown rice = just nice).

Mixed Vegetable Rice

  • Quarter plate of wholegrains: Brown rice, if available

  • Half a plate of fruit and vegetables: Stir-fried long beans, stir-fried kang kong

  • Quarter plate of meat and other proteins: Steamed egg with minced meat

But let’s say you order chicken rice. With My Healthy Plate in mind, you notice a lack of greens.

One solution is to add a side order of kai lan. Similarly, when ordering wanton mee or slice fish bee hoon, ask for extra veggies (e.g. chye sim). Grab a fruit to complete your meal.

Happening Wholegrains

For the quarter-plate of wholegrains, ask uncle if he serves brown rice or brown rice bee hoon — look for the "We offer wholegrain options" decal.

And expand your choices! Pick soba (made from buckwheat) over ramen or chapatti (made from whole-wheat flour) over prata.

Indian Food

  • Quarter plate of wholegrains: 2 chapattis or 1 thosai

  • Half a plate of fruit and vegetables: Tandoori gobi (cauliflower), 1 slice of pineapple

  • Quarter plate of meat and other proteins: Chicken tikka

Quality Over Quantity

We also want to focus on food quality and preparation methods: choose fresh and light over processed and heavy — lean chicken over luncheon meat; grilled, stir-fried, steamed, or roasted dishes over deep-fried food or gravies.

Remember, My Healthy Plate is flexible. Missed something during lunch? Make up for it at dinner!

For more meal ideas, check out Plan Your Meals with My Healthy Plate.


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