Malaysia has the highest prevalence of overweight and obesity in Southeast Asia.
Urban development or also commonly known as urbanization expedites the nutrition transition.
Malaysians are consuming more refined carbohydrates, animal-sourced foods, oils while less in fruits, vegetables and legumes.
We are eating out more frequently
Urbanization causes a change in lifestyles of Malaysians which include a noticeable shift in eating culture as there is an increase in trend of people eating-out as compared to two decades ago.
Dietary patterns in urbanized areas have changed toward more convenient and prepared foods, owing in part to longer working hours and high purchasing power. In addition, there is a rise in the number of food outlets in residential areas.
Foods eaten away from home are commonly bigger in serving size and higher in fat content while being low in certain nutrients such as fiber, calcium and iron. Besides, foods eaten away from home is an important factor as it is associated with one's diet quality and the risk for obesity.
You might be concerned for your health if you dine out often. Fret not, here are some tips for you, so you can eat out and still be healthy.
Be Aware on the Cooking Method
Always go for healthier cooking methods such as steamed, braised, grilled and roasted as these foods are cooked with less oil. This means that the foods will be lesser in calorie content.
Do read the menu and be aware of words such as fried, crispy, breaded as this method of cooking involves a high usage of oil. This can increase your risk for heart disease and other health problems such as weight gain.
Do share your meal with your friend or perhaps a family member as some restaurants serve foods in large portions. Hence, it may be easier for you to overeat within one sitting as this can lead to obesity.
If you do order mixed rice (nasi campur), request for less rice. Some restaurants do provide brown rice as an option, do go for it as brown rice has more nutrients and fiber.
Load Up on your Vegetables
We tend to overlook the choices such as at the mixed rice stall when it comes to vegetables. We would always go for the meat option. It’s important to choose different kinds of meat as it is a good source of protein but do not neglect the vegetables.
Vegetables are also low in calories while at the same time loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. High fiber intake is important for the health of your digestive system and as well as helps to lower cholesterol.
You can always use the Malaysian Healthy plate (MHP) as a guideline as this emphasizes on Quarter Quarter Half (QQH) concept. ¼ plate grain or grain products. ¼ fish or poultry, meat or egg and lastly, ½ plate of fruits and vegetables. This ensures that your meal will be balanced with the right amount of carbohydrates, protein, fruits and vegetables.
Rethink your Drink
When ordering drinks such as Teh Tarik, coffee, tea, request for less sugar or less sweetened condensed milk. Remember to mention “kurang manis!”. If needed to, make sure you limit yourself to one teaspoon of sugar per cup.
Always go for plain water as they are refreshing, zero calories, sugar and at the same time wallet-friendly! If you feel like drinking flavored drinks, you can always opt for chinese tea, green tea, barley drink or lime juice without any added sugar.
Limit your consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks such as ice kacang, cendol, soft drinks, drinks with syrups as they are high in calories and sugar!
Do follow these tips to stay healthy when eating out!
But you might be wondering? What about those fried chickens, pizzas, pastries and whatnot? What to do with that? Come and give our Diet Ideas’ dietitian a call to discuss further.
Prepared by Elvina Chelsea Lim Ean,
Final Year Student, 2022
BSc (Hons) Dietetics with Nutrition,
International Medical University (IMU)
Checked by Mohd. Siddeq Azha,
Diet Ideas Sdn. Bhd.