The guide to healthy eating (For NON-vegans, NON-vegetarians)


{Disclaimer: This is a post I wrote almost a year ago on 7 November 2014. Thus, some of the things I wrote may be irrelevant in my life now (since I've stopped eating meat). Anyway - for omnivores, carnivores, meat-eaters trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle, this guide will help you if you're thinking of eating healthier! And everything I say here comes from my own knowledge, and I'm not any sort of health expert or a dietician or a doctor, so it's basically just my own thoughts and blah. So it's entirely up to you if you want to read it or not!}

What is healthy eating?

"Healthy eating means eating a variety of food from the four food groups in the healthy pyramid to feel good and maintain your health." To me, healthy eating simply means eating all foods in moderation. Remember: Moderation is key. To live a balanced lifestyle, it does not just mean exercising and eating healthy. By the end of this post, i would have explained what it means to eat in moderation and reveal the truth about the so-called perfect diet!

Eat well, be well. To be well, you have to eat well. To eat well, you've to first be well to eat!

Even though many people know the meaning of being healthy and the benefits it carries, some do not care less. But it's more heartwarming to know that there are more people who are engaged in a healthy lifestyle now, as seen from the overflowing number of people on Instagram who are health advocates. I think there's nothing better to know that there are more like-minded people around who share the same views as you! Also, i can't be more glad to see more organic stores and supermarkets around Singapore. 

First of all, let me name a few food groups:

1. Carbohydrates

This is a food group that is feared by some people, because it is believed to be "fattening".  But are carbohydrates really fattening? Not really. Carbs are an important staple of our diets as it gives our body energy. But of course, consuming an excessive amount of them isn't good for our body either - same goes to all other food groups. If you consume too much of something, it would only mean a higher overall calorie intake and if this goes on for a long time, no doubt it would lead to a weight gain. Same goes for protein - if you eat too much meat, weight gain is also inevitable. This is when the rule of "moderation is key" comes in handy: just eat carbs in proper portion sizes! 
Furthermore, i don't think it's possible to live without eating carbs at all. People may think that carbs are only found in rice, noodles and other staples, but in fact it's also found in fruits. Fruits high in carbohydrates are bananas, grapes and so on. But they aren't fattening and are good for your body!
Lately, there have been several diets like hclf and hflc, namely "high carbs low fat" and "high fats low carbs" respectively. The formal defines a diet whereby you consume foods that are high in carbohydrates but are low in fat, while the latter defines otherwise. 
With regards to a "high carbs low fat" diet, many people usually sustain a raw diet too. Freelee (also known as the banana girl) is one example of someone whom sustains a "raw till 4" lifestyle. On this lifestyle, you can eat as many fruits as you want in the day and eat as many cooked carbs as you like for dinner. It is deemed more sustainable than a 100% raw diet, since you're allowed to have cooked carbs for dinner. The good thing about this lifestyle is that, you can eat unlimited calories. You just have to make sure that they are low in fat and sodium, vegan of course, and carbs are your best friend here.

Having said that, I've also tried going raw till 4 for a period of time at the start of the year, but i found it not sustainable at all. Firstly, it's hard explaining this diet to your parents (and you know, asian parents are more strict and less open-minded) and honestly I understand that it would sound crazy if I am a parent and my daughter decides to have just fruits for her meals. Secondly, I find this lifestyle unsustainable living in Singapore. In western countries where organic produce and fruits are more readily available, it is easier to switch to this lifestyle. In Singapore, even though there are many fruits available for us, they do not come in cheap. Imagine if you're going to have a box of clementines for lunch, i don't think its anywhere cheaper than having a meal from the market or the food court. 

I can't be sure whether this lifestyle is sustainable, but it has shown that it is since many people are now converting to a vegan and raw lifestyle. Perhaps a vegan lifestyle would be sustainable for more people, and in fact I find vegans really admirable, because most of them gave up meat and dairy just to stop supporting animal cruelty. [I'm also considering to become one in the future, but who knows? :)]

In a nutshell, i still think it's best to eat carbohydrates in moderation. But what are simple carbs and complex carbs? Simple carbs are found in cakes, jellies, and sugary food; while complex carbs are mainly rice, bread, potatoes and also green vegetables. Of course, complex carbs are better for us because it keeps us full and satisfies our hunger. 

Healthier alternatives of rice would be quinoa, couscous, brown rice and mixed grain rice, or other rice like red rice and so on. Quinoa is commonly eaten as a healthier alternative because it contains proteins, while normal rice don't. Personally, i try to replace white rice with organic brown rice or mixed grain rice instead, because white rice isn't exactly healthy. White rice is in fact, enriched and hence aren't as healthy as compared to natural brown rice. But I don't entirely avoid them because my family members are used to eating white rice and no one is willing to eat brown rice except me, so I only eat brown rice when there are still few hours away till dinner time. (Because brown rice takes a longer time to cook, hence I only cook them before white rice.) 

All these alternatives can be found in local supermarkets and cold storage.

Healthier alternatives of bread would be whole wheat bread or whole grain bread. Personally, I do not think that Gardenia's or Sunshine's breads are healthy because most of them are enriched. Do not be deceived by the word "enriched", because even though it means enhanced with vitamins and nutrients, it also means that it has gone through chemical processes. I usually get whole wheat bread from Four leaves and they sell it in a packet of four and eight slices. But sometimes when I run out of whole wheat bread, I eat other alternatives like Gardenia's oats and honey bread or other breads from Gardenia. Not all types of breads from Gardenia and Sunshine are unhealthy, so don't avoid them completely. However, do avoid white bread if you can, because they aren't beneficial to your body. It is said that the flour used to make white bread, is chemically bleached, hence giving it a white colour. With chemicals added into your food, i don't think it's that nutritious anymore!

Healthier alternatives of noodles would be whole wheat pasta and Japanese soba noodles. Now, you may ask, "Why are whole grain foods so healthy?" Here are some health benefits of it:

1. Whole grains contain a lot of fibre.

2. They help lower cholesterol. 
3. They aid in digestion.
4. They lower blood pressure.
5. They aid in weight loss. 
6. They make you satiated.
7. They help regulate blood sugar.
8. Some grains provide calcium or vitamin C.
9. They provide your body with essential minerals.
10. They cut markers of inflammation.
11. They may reduce the risk of asthma and cancer.

For more detailed explanations to health benefits whole grain foods can provide, you may visit this website:

Remember, carbs are not your enemy!

2. Proteins

Proteins are usually found in meat, tofu, beans, eggs, legumes and even peanut butter. They can also be found in protein bars like quest bars & also protein shakes. Vegans normally eat tofu and it's a great protein source. Eggs are high in protein and calcium and believed to be good for us, even though too much of them might increase our cholesterol levels. Eating protein bars is a convenient way of getting proteins into your diet - quest bars contain 20g of protein - but keep in mind they do not come in cheap (If you're lucky enough, you get it for less than $4 per bar.)

For me, I get my source of protein from tofu and eggs and sometimes meat. I try not to eat too much of meat because I've converted into a flexitarian (short form: semi vegetarian) and having said that - I only consume meat probably 3-4 days a week. I was once a full-time carnivore and ate meat in every meal, but after some time I've realised that consuming too much meat isn't too good for our bodies either. Even though it's a rich source of protein, meat also contains carcinogen which can cause cancer. 

Healthier alternatives of protein sources would be lean cuts of chicken, eggs, tofu, beans and peanut butter. 2 tablespoons of peanut butter gives you 7 grams of protein, and nothing can go wrong with peanut butter and bananas on a whole wheat toast. Just with that toast, you can consume carbs, proteins and fibre all at once. However, I would only recommend natural peanut butter. You can get them at local supermarkets and organic stores - Adam's natural peanut butter, peanut butter & co's peanut butter and also Skippy's new natural peanut butter. Or you can also blend them yourself so that they are lower in sodium. But why natural peanut butter? This is because some of them are non-gmo (meaning not genetically modified) and not filled with hydrogenated oil. Hydrogenated oil should be avoided at all costs because they are rich in unhealthy and bad fats.

3. Fats

Fats can be divided into two groups, namely the good & healthy fats and bad fats. What are some examples of bad fats? They are those that are found in deep fried chicken wings, satays, pizzas, burgers and junk food. Deep fried food should always be highly avoided as they are loaded with oil (99% of the time, unhealthy oil). When choosing the kind of oil to cook your food, do choose healthier oils like olive oil, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. Even though they may cost slightly more than the usual ones, they are definitely more beneficial for your health. 

On the other hand, healthy fats can be found in oily fishes and fruits like avocado. Fishes include salmon, tuna and sardines, and they are rich in omega-3 and can protect our heart. A great way to include avocados in your breakfast is to smash them and make them like a spread, add a poached egg on top and sprinkle with some pepper. 

General rules of healthy eating:

1. Avoid deep-fried food. They are rich in saturated fats and are bad for your health.

2. Cut down on gassy drinks like coke and pepsi, and cut them off completely if you can. Drink green smoothies, or buy fruit juices if you're out. Drink water!
3. Boil and steam your food instead of frying them if you can, so as to reduce the amount of oil consumption.
4. Organic produce are better for health, but note that not all of them are way better than normal ones.
5. Eat all things in moderation. Don't deprive yourself of bad foods entirely, just eat them but not too much and not too often.

And now the most important rule to healthy eating: how to eat all food in moderation and what exactly is the so-called PERFECT diet?

It's been a long way for me and honestly I've already tried out a few diets myself because I was looking for a sustainable one that I could survive on for life. Even though I'm still young now and I may try out several more as I grow older, but I guess some fundamentals would still remain.

Hclf diet? raw till 4 diet? 100% raw diet? 5:2 diet? paleo diet? apple cider diet? banana diet? watermelon diet? bikini diet? low carb diet? lean out diet? 

No no no.

The perfect diet is a balanced diet. Not too much or too little of anything. If you eat too healthily (even though there's no such thing as too healthy), you'd feel deprived of some bad foods, such as pizzas and burgers. If you eat too 'dirty', you'd find yourself in need of a quick detox every time you have a cheat meal. Sometimes, if you eat too much junk, you may feel guilty: "Oh no, i have eaten too many slices of pizza, i'm going to gain weight" "I shouldn't have eaten so much cake!" "I should have stopped myself from reaching another square of chocolate.." 

But in a balanced diet and lifestyle, there's no such thing as feeling guilty of what you ate. 

Because in short, a balanced lifestyle is one where you allow yourself to indulge in foods you love in moderation, yet knowing how to eat healthy at the same time. Yes, it may take time to adapt to such a lifestyle, but you'll come to realisation that this is the only way you can feel good about yourself even though you may have eaten "bad foods".
After all, food is food. Some foods may be beneficial, but some aren't. Don't beat yourself over the fatty pizza or burger you just ate, but compensate it with greens and fruits the next day or in the next meal.
Lastly, throw away your weighing scales. The number on the scales don't define who you are. It's unhealthy to keep weighing yourself everyday and avoid getting obsessed with the numbers on it. You are you,  and you are beautiful just the way you are. 

With that being said, vegsmoothiebunny has also uploaded her views about the perfect diet a year ago, and I was excited to read her post when I first saw the title because I was already in the perfect diet/lifestyle myself. Again, nothing's better than to realise that there are like-minded people like you! Here's the link: 

With that, I end my post! Never forget this: Moderation Is Key!

Your body is a temple. Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in.

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