Food And Nutrition Course For Mindef

I'm going to share with you the world's worst kept secret.

The success of any weight loss plan or muscle building program lies chief in the diet. You may exercise to the max but should you choose to binge thereafter, that workout is technically wasted. Now you know why so many people struggle with weight issues despite attempting to exercise rather religiously.

Yes, there is no denying that Singapore is a food paradise. Our biggest challenge is not having no food to eat. Rather it is having the luxury of choosing what to eat, where to eat and when to eat. Take a quick turn around us and we are literally spoilt for choice. Cafes, restaurants, hawker centres, kopititiams and round-the-clock eateries surround us.

Welcome to today's special edition of the Food and Nutrition Course for MINDEF (Ministry of Defence) staff. I already felt a familial and homecoming of sorts when I stepped into the room as I saw quite a few familiar faces. Some of the participants of today's workshop had attended my previous workshops. So it was wonderful to connect with them again today.

So to both my old friends and new friends today, having the knowledge to know how to select the right foods so as to absorb the best nutrients is the key to today's workshop. But first we shall touch on the basics.

I'll share three key points in this blog.

Sharing 1: Out With The Pyramid & In With The Plate

In school, many of us were taught the food pyramid. Eat more of this, eat less of that. More and less are arbitrary terms. Your "more" could be a lot more than my "more". Simply put, there is no common yardstick to measure such arbitrariness. If we can't measure arbitrariness, then why are we still sticking with the old method?

When I shared the food plate theory with the ladies, they were surprised how much easier it was to understand and apply it in their everyday lives. I in particular love the food plate because we Asians use bowls and plates to eat. Everything comes in round shapes. Depending on our fitness goals, we divide up the plate into different segments. Simple? As easy as ABC.

In general, the advice is to fill half the plate with fruit and vegetables, a quarter plate with meat and alternatives and the remaining quarter plate with wholemeal products like rice and noodles.

Sharing 2: Serving Size Matters

After the food plate, let me share with the readers the notion of servings. We have heard of the phrase "one serving". To many, it's another guessing game. But rest assured there's a common understanding of what one serving constitutes. It's not difficult to remember. For meat (chicken for example), we will use our palm. One palm refers to one serving. For vegetables, use a mug. Three-quarters of that is one serving. For fruits like oranges and bananas, it's quantity - one orange or banana each.

Sharing 3: Reading Food Labels

Lastly, I taught participants how to read food labels within 30 seconds. Most people enjoy supermarketing but if there's one piece of knowledge that can be enhanced, that's learning how to read food labels. In the same manner we read skincare labels to see the ingredients, we should also read food labels to see what we are consuming.

Always compare "per 100g" and never use "per serving" as serving sizes for food items (even if they fall in the same category) differ between brands. Food and nutrition is part and parcel of our everyday lives. If you want to lead a healthier lifestyle, you may also start by adopting the good habit of starting a food diary. Record down whatever you put into your mouth. Tedious as it may sound, you will be surprised how more cautious you will treat all your meals. Teamed with your personal goal, this is a sure-win two-step process to a successful healthy, happy life.

Thanks for the memories...The ladies had a bigger surprise in store for the form of an appreciation gift...Aww....So sweet :)

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