What are you really eating?

What are you really eating?

We were in shock after reading American celebrity nutritionist Rachel Beller's book, Eat to Lose, Eat to Win. In it, Rachel wrote about her "food autopsies" - where she "took apart" dishes and analysed their ingredients - on what most people considered to be healthy dishes, like spinach wraps and 100-calorie snacks, and concluded that seemingly good and balanced meals may not necessarily be so.

Inspired to do the same, we got Jaclyn Reutens, a clinical dietitian at local nutrition consultancy Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants, to give us the low-down on some of the "healthier" dishes in Singapore. Consider us enlightened.

Having this... a bowl of fishball soup with yellow noodles is like eating

- 6 slices of bread
- 1/6 teaspoon of sugar
- 1/6 teaspoon of oil
- 1/2 cup of flour
- 1 lettuce leaf
- Slightly more than 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 3 slices of fish
- 10 beansprouts

Look at all the carbohydrates here - that's roughly the amount you should consume in a day, not a meal. Also, there's not enough vegetables and protein, so you'll be looking for a snack soon after. The amount of salt in the soup is also more than half the daily recommended one teaspoon.

Instead, have... Sliced fish soup with white noodles and extra vegetables. White noodles have less fat than yellow ones, and the fresh fi sh slices (read: they do not contain preservatives) will give you high-quality protein with no additional carbs, unlike fishballs.

Having this.. two california rolls and six salmon maki is like eating

- 4.5 pieces of seaweed
- 1/2 slice of fish
- 1/6 teaspoon of flour
- 4 thin strips of cucumber
- 2 medium sized potatoes
- 3 slices of avocado
- 2 slices of salmon

It looks like you've got your bases covered with this meal - after all, there are carbohydrates, protein and even some healthy fat in the avocado... right? Not quite. There is only a small amount of vegetables, and you're eating twice as much carbs than you really need to for one meal. And look at the sad amount of salmon - that won't give you enough protein.

Instead, have... Six pieces of salmon sashimi sushi with a salad on the side. Protein levels go up and you're chomping on more veggies. This meal also has just the right amount of carbs.

Having this... a muesli bar is like eating

- 1/4 cup of oats
- 2 almonds
- 1/2 teaspoon of oil
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 small strawberry

Sugar alert! A teaspoon of sugar may not look like much, but it's a lot to be packed in a regular-sized muesli bar - you might as well have a small chocolate chip cookie or a quarter of a donut. Yes, they aren't healthy snacks, but this one's not much better.

Instead, have... A small cup (150g) of low-sugar, non-fat yogurt with a serving of fruit. This combo will satisfy your sweet tooth, and the low glycaemic index means you won't be reaching for a second snack.

Having this... a masala thosai is like eating... 

- 1.5 cup of pasta
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 2 teaspoons of curry powder

Besides the lack of protein, this dish also has 15g of fat, of which 9g is unhealthy saturated fat - almost double your daily allowance (5g). And because there are no veggies here, you'll also lack vitamins and minerals.

Instead, have... Either a wholemeal mushroom-and-cheese wrap or a wholemeal chicken wrap, served with veggies on the side. You'll get more fi bre from the wholemeal wrap and greens, and there's protein to make this a balanced meal.

Food Styling Sharmaine Khor

Her World, Singapore's No. 1 women's magazine published by SPH Magazines is available at all newsstands now.
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