During the 2017 National Day Rally, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong emphasised the importance of eating healthy to cope with the growing number of diabetics and at-risk patients in Singapore. Diet plays a significant role in Diabetes. We have all heard that consuming sugar-sweetened beverages in excess is bad for health. According to the Public Consultation Paper put out by REACH Singapore, drinking an additional 250 ml of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) every day increases a person’s risk of Diabetes by 18 to 26 percent.
We have heard time and again, it is healthiest to cook our own meals at home. However, not only do we live in a food paradise, but many of us also have hectic work lifestyles, which makes eating out more convenient. Evidence states that one in four Singaporeans eat out daily, and more than half do so weekly. However, this does not mean that people who are diabetic and eat out are stuck to eating salads and nothing else. There are in fact many diabetic-friendly local food options in Singapore.
The General Rule
The main idea behind the term “diet” is to eat smaller portion sizes. You can safely follow the recommended portion size by Health Hub. Also, it is important to cut down on simple carbohydrates (e.g., white rice, white bread, pasta, noodles) since they are stripped of almost all their fibre, minerals, and vitamins – hence being synonymous with the term “empty calories”. To ensure you get all the necessary fibre and minerals, increase the consumption of protein and fibre. When selecting meals, ensure that vegetables are abundant while avoiding deep-fried foods. Limiting the addition of condiments, sauces, or gravies in dishes as well as consuming sugar-sweetened beverages is equally important as these have a major effect on blood glucose levels.
It might seem hard and impossible to make healthy food choices that are diabetic-friendly in Singapore especially when you’re eating at food courts or hawker centres. However, this is possible and very attainable. For starters, you can avoid fried and fatty foods. Another option is to opt for brown rice which is diabetic-friendly compared to white rice. As brown rice has the bran layer and cereal germ, it has more nutrients. Its consumption also does not result in a spike in blood glucose that commonly occurs when eating white rice, which is not favourable in people with Diabetes. Asking for less rice than the standard rice bowl and avoiding flavoured rice such as biryani are also ways to ensure that portion sizes are controlled, and excess salt and fat are not consumed. Including servings of vegetables together with complex carbohydrates such as quinoa, is a good way to lower the GI of a meal. This is due to the fibre content of the vegetables and the complex carbohydrates.
List of Local Diabetic-Friendly Foods
- Thunder tea rice.
- Chinese Economy Rice, Nasi Campur or Vegetarian Rice (request for less rice, choose 2 to 3 veggies as sides and opt for fish or tofu instead of other meats)
- Wanton Mee Soup and Sliced fish soup.
- Yong Tau Foo: without fried items, with 3 to 4 vegetable choices.
- Grilled Fish with mash potatoes and steamed vegetables.
- Mixed salad.
- Grilled chicken salad without sauces.
- Chappati with 2 to 3 vegetable sides.
- Steamed Chicken Rice with steamed vegetables (less rice)
- Kopi-O kosong.
- Popiah (request for less sweet sauce)
Diabetic-Friendly Grocery Shopping Lists
Being at a supermarket and knowing what to get can be confusing, especially when many advertisements and product companies are trying to sell you their product and tell you what is or isn’t good for you. Contrary to popular belief, planning a diabetic-friendly grocery shopping list is simple. To do so, it is first important to keep in mind the main components that make up your list. This is to ensure foods purchased include fruits and vegetables, lean meats and plant-based sources of protein, foods with less added sugar, and less processed foods.
Food items for Healthy Eating
Goji berries and mulberries are a few organic snacks that are high in antioxidants, vitamins, and fibre. They are a great option to satisfy your sweet tooth while ensuring you get an added benefit of vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, potassium, and fibre.
Sacha Inchi seeds and Chia Seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fibre which help to reduce the risk of diabetes. Beyond that sacha inchi seeds and chia seeds have loads of health benefits including the improvement of cholesterol levels and even gut health.
3. Whole Grains
Whole grains such as organic quinoa seeds are rich in vitamins and minerals like magnesium, B vitamins, chromium, iron, and folate. They are also a great source of fibre, which slows down the digestion process. In addition, the glycaemic index of quinoa seeds is about 53 – a GI that is under 55 is considered low and will not cause your blood sugar to spike drastically. This is a lot lower than white rice, which has a GI of over 70.
Have all these items on your grocery shopping list but not sure where to buy them? Organic food stores in Singapore like Nature’s Superfoods are your one-stop solution to all things organic-related. Browse our expansive catalogue today and add anything from Sacha Inchi seeds to other organic snacks to your cart and start making healthier food choices for yourself and your loved ones.