As Singaporeans, we love our food, and we have such a wide variety of options to choose from.
Nevertheless, we still have to make sure we are consuming a wide variety of nutrients in our meals. Experts recommend that at least half a meal should consist of fruits and vegetables, one-quarter whole grains, and one-quarter meat, to be considered healthy.
However, only 11% of adults in Singapore consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Under the Active Health programme by Sport Singapore, there are four habits you can incorporate into your life in order to achieve a balanced diet:
1. Keep certain food choices away from your home and office space
Avoid consuming unhealthy snacks that are high in sugar, fat, and salt, by getting rid of them from your home or office space! Highly processed foods, such as candy bars, chips, and sugary drinks are all examples of bad food choices. If you find yourself reaching for them, ask yourself whether they will help or hinder you on your path towards good health. You can even avoid specific aisles in the supermarket if you don’t want to be tempted unnecessarily! Almonds, pistachios, and even berries are some healthier choices you can potentially replace your current snack options with.
2. Drink one cup (250ml) of water before every meal
This prevents you from overeating or indulging in high-calorie, high-sugar beverages. Having a glass of water before each meal also helps to keep you hydrated. Always have your water bottle or a cup near you at all times: on your desk, next to your computer, and while you’re eating. Each time you see the water bottle, you will be reminded to hydrate. There are now apps to remind you to drink water throughout the day, but it also helps if you note down how many cups of water you have drank. The more, the better!
3. Eat slowly and until you’re “80% full”
This habit lets you learn how much food you need to be satisfied, rather than stuffed. Eating slowly also allows you to appreciate and enjoy your food better, instead of rushing through your meals. Each meal should take you at least 20 minutes to finish, so take note of the time when you’re eating. You should also only take 80% of your usual serving size, and don’t get a second helping until 20 minutes later. Be conscious and try to take smaller bites or chew twice as much as you normally would – this makes your food more easily digestable as well! Being distracted while we are eating can cause us to overeat and suffer indigestion. If you are too busy to step out of the office, eat at the pantry, instead of doing so at your desk!
4. Eat at least two servings of fruit and/or vegetables at lunch and dinner everyday
Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre, all of which are great for your diet. These are also typically high in water content, so they keep you hydrated, without a high amount of calories! Try to incorporate as much fruits and vegetables into your diet as possible by keeping your fridge stocked up with your favourites! Aim to cover half your plate or bowl with fruits and vegetables for every meal.
Now, you can start by choosing one realistic habit from this list and stick to it over the next three weeks. Making changes to your lifestyle is the easiest when you introduce new habits one at a time. Embrace these new changes and start on your Active Health journey today! Remember: health is about doing things better, not perfect.