In Malaysia we have fantastic food. Dishes such as Nasi Lemak, Satay, Nasi Goreng and Nasi Dagang are the best of Malaysian cuisine and are known throughout the rest of the world. However these delicious foods are not always the healthiest – we are particularly fond of foods that are filled with sugar, deep-fried, or soaked in a vat of coconut milk! It is
no surprise therefore that Malaysia has the highest number of diabetes cases in all the Asean countries.
‘So how can I eat my favourite foods and still be healthy?’
Good Question! EZTakaful has come up with some tips for healthy eating so you can do exactly that. Remember…healthy eating can help prevent conditions such as heart disease and stroke, help you age better with anti-oxidants, and extend your life expectancy to spend more time with everyone you love.
But first…How Much You Need To Eat In a Day?
For a healthy and balanced diet, it is recommended that men should have around 2,500 calories a day (10,500 kilojoules) while women should have around 2,000 calories a day (8,400 kilojoules). However these values can vary depending on age, metabolism and levels of physical activity.
What are Calories?
Calories are a measure of how much energy food or drink contains. The amount of energy you need will depend on:
- Your age – a teenager will need more energy than a pensioner
- Your lifestyle – the more active you are, the more energy you burn
- Your size – your height and weight can affect how quickly you use energy
Calories and kilocalories
The term calorie is commonly used as shorthand for “kilocalorie.” On food packets you will find this written as kcal. Kilojoules (kJ) are the equivalent of kilocalories within the International System of Units, and you’ll see both kJ and kcal on nutrition labels – 4.2kJ is equivalent to approximately 1kcal.
Tips for Healthy Eating
Healthy eating is not about staying unrealistically thin or strict dietary limitations. Rather, it’s about eating smart i.e. eat the right amount of calories for how active you are, so that you balance the energy you consume with the energy you intake.
Moderation and a balanced diet: Eat only as much food as your body needs. You should feel satisfied but not bloated at the end of a meal. Moderation is also about balance: you need a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to sustain a healthy body.
Prepare more of your own meals: Cooking your own meals at home can help you control what you’re eating and what goes into your food.
Read the labels: It’s important to be aware of what’s in your food as manufacturers often hide large amounts of sugar and salt in packaged food, even in food claiming to be healthy.
Eat regularly: Skipping meals, especially breakfast, can lead to out-of-control hunger, sometimes resulting in overeating. A healthy breakfast is an important part of a balanced diet, and provides some of the vitamins and minerals we need for good health.
Eat a variety of foods: You need different nutrients for good health and no single food can supply them all. Today’s food supply makes it easy to eat a wide variety of foods. Balance your choice over time! If you have a high-fat lunch, have a low-fat dinner. If you eat a large serving of meat at lunch, go for fish for your evening meal.
Base your diet on foods rich in carbohydrates: More than half the calories in your diet should come from foods rich in carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, other cereals and potatoes. Try wholegrain bread, pasta and other wholegrain cereals, too, to increase your fibre intake.
Cut back on unhealthy foods like saturated fat and sugar: Replacing saturated animal fats with vegetables fats (such as switching butter for olive oil) will make a positive difference to your health. Saturated fat is also found in foods like hard cheese, cakes, biscuits, sausages, cream, butter and pies. Sugary foods and drinks are often high in energy which contributes to weight gain. So avoid these foods to cut down your saturated fat intake.
Eat lots of fruit and veg: Eat at least five portions of different types of fruit and veg a day. A glass of unsweetened 100% fruit juice (150ml) can count as one portion, and vegetables cooked into dishes also count.
Eat less salt: Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure. Even if you don’t add salt to your food, you may still be eating too much as about three-quarters of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy. Use food labels to help you cut down. More than 1.5g of salt per 100g means the food is high in salt. Adults and children over 11 should eat no more than 6g of salt a day. Younger children should have even less.
Drink plenty of water: You need to drink about 1.5 to 2 litres of fluid every day to stop getting dehydrated. This is in addition to the fluid you get from the food you eat. You might need more if it’s very hot or you are physically active though.
Change your eating, change your life!
Next week the focus changes from health to gadgets and gizmos, as for the whole month of October the EZTakaful blog discusses Technology.