Eating healthily contributes positively to our overall well-being. With the growing prevalence of obesity due to insufficient physical activity and a high-calorie diet, it is timely to re-examine our eating patterns.
In July, I was invited to launch a new initiative - My Healthy Plate - at the Health Promotion Board (HPB).
My Healthy Plate is an updated tool from the Healthy Diet Pyramid that helps people make balanced eating choices.
The Healthy Plate visual shows half a plate of vegetables, a quarter of whole grains and another quarter of meat and proteins. It also reminds people to take healthier oils, choose water instead of sugary drinks and stay active.
The larger serving of vegetables helps to encourage healthier eating habits as most Singaporeans eat less vegetables and overindulge in refined carbohydrates such as white rice.
Based on the 2010 National Nutrition Survey, the proportion of Singaporeans who eat enough fruit and vegetables, as recommended, has dropped from about 14 per cent in 2004 to 11 per cent in 2010.
The proportion of Singaporeans who consume too much saturated fat also increased from 57 per cent in 2004 to 70 per cent in 2010.
An unhealthy diet is a major risk factor that contributes to the development of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.
My Healthy Plate is useful as it gives a visual representation of a well-proportioned meal.
More countries - including Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States - are adopting a Healthy Plate concept as it presents a quantitative reference for the daily diet in a simple, straightforward fashion and can be easily translated into practice.
My Healthy Plate also helps to address misconceptions about healthy eating and bridge gaps in one's diet.
Inculcating good dietary habits starts from an early age. Hence, we have decided to include My Healthy Plate in health education textbooks within the next three years, and in HPB's public education materials by the end of this year.
Parents, teachers and the community play an important role in helping our young ones develop healthy eating habits.
Let us start to make healthier lifestyle choices today. You can follow the principles from My Healthy Plate and make your own food choices.
To live well is to eat well.
Let us adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to live long and live well.
Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim is Parliamentary Secretary at the ministries of Health and Transport.
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