Where (and what) to eat if you are (pre) diabetic in Singapore?

Where (and what) to eat if you are (pre) diabetic in Singapore?
PHOTO: Pixabay

If there is something we can't deny is that, in Singapore, we love our sweet stuff. And this has serious health repercussions. The numbers on the prevalence of diabetes are scary: 1 in 9 Singaporeans are said to be affected, and the predictions are that the number of diabetics under 70 is expected to rise to a staggering 670,000 by 2030.

There is a high chance that you know someone with pre-diabetes or diabetes or are yourself battling with the disease. If this is the case, how can you cope (or help our loved ones) with diabetes? Are there restaurants in Singapore catering for pre and diabetics? We went to find the answers and a list of places to eat in Singapore if you're (pre) diabetic.

WHAT ARE DIABETES AND PREDIABETES? 

In short, diabetes affects the way our bodies regulate blood sugar or glucose. Insulin is a hormone that controls blood glucose levels in our bodies.

There are 2 types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. People with type 1 don't produce insulin. People with type 2 still produce insulin but their bodies can't use it effectively, or they don't produce it enough.

Prediabetes is an elevation in blood sugar levels that are higher than usual but not high enough to be diabetes.

Many factors can increase a person's risk for developing prediabetes or diabetes. These factors include being overweight or obese, having a family history of diabetes (especially a first-degree relative such as a parent or sibling), sedentary lifestyle, age and race.

SINGAPORE'S WAR AGAINST DIABETES SINCE 2016 

Exercise and diet play a significant role in diabetes. We all know that sugary beverages are bad for health if consumed in excess. According to HPB, drinking an additional 250ml of sugar-sweetened beverages every day increases a person's risk of diabetes by 18 to 26 per cent.

Due to the rise of diabetes in the country, the Singaporean government has put strong efforts in education and prevention of the disease. We are all familiar with the Healthier Choice stamp from Health Public Board and the many campaigns pushed in recent years.

Like the one where the government tries to convince us to drink more water with rap…

Educational videos aside, knowledge about the disease is important. The more we know, the better we can prevent it and detect it early.

WHAT CAN WE DO TO PREVENT AND MANAGE DIABETES?

There are many steps you can take to delay or prevent prediabetes and diabetes.

  • Individually, strive to be physically active and be as close to a healthy weight as possible. Start a walking or bicycle riding group.
  • Regular medical check-ups to prevent and monitor.
  • Start by talking with your family and friends about risk factors. Know your personal family history of diabetes.
  • Get screened for diabetes and encourage others to get tested.
  • Tips for better nutrition include eating less and/or having smaller meal portions.

The general rule is always to cut down on carbs whenever possible, and make up for it by other things like proteins and fibres.

  • Eat more vegetables and avoid deep fried food.
  • Use fewer sauces or gravies in your dishes.
  • Limit or avoid sugary drinks. Choose water or unsweetened drinks.

These tips help prevent and keep diabetes well under control.

I'M (PRE) DIABETIC AND NEED TO WATCH MY DIET. WHERE CAN I DINE OUT IN SINGAPORE?

Making healthier food choices is easier said than done. Especially in Singapore, with a busy lifestyle that takes us to eat out quite often. You can refute and say "Oh, but you can cook and bring lunch from home." But if we don't cook every day, what are the alternatives?

HEALTHY RESTAURANTS AND CAFES TO EAT IN SINGAPORE 

Photo: Shopback
Photo: Shopback
Photo: Shopback

*Note: The places listed were chosen based on their healthy menu options and, by no means, are intended to substitute medical advice. If you are diabetic, consult with your doctor for specific diet and treatment recommendations.

DIABETIC FRIENDLY CAKES 

When it comes to celebrations like birthdays and anniversaries, it gets hard to avoid the cakes and desserts served. Fortunately, it is possible to get cakes that are catered to people with diabetes.

Here are two great options:

Photo: Shopback

BUT, HEY, I EAT AT HAWKERS. WHAT CAN I EAT? 

It might seem harder but it is possible to make healthy choices when you eat at your regular food court. As a rule of thumb, opt for brown rice instead of white rice and avoid the fried and fatty stuff.

Here are some options to consider:

  • Thunder tea rice.
  • Chinese Economy Rice, Nasi Campur or Vegetarian Rice: ask for less rice, choose 2 to 3 veggies sides and opt for fish or tofu.
  • Wanton Mee Soup and Sliced fish soup.
  • Yong Tau Foo: without fried items, with 3 to 4 vegetable choices.
  • Grilled Fish with mash potatoes and steamed vegetables.
  • Mixed salad.
  • Grilled chicken salad without sauces.
  • For India food lovers, a chappati with 2 to 3 vegetable sides.
  • Steamed Chicken Rice.
  • Kopi-O kosong.
  • Popiah: ask to use less sweet sauce.

ARE THERE ANY DIABETIC-FRIENDLY READY MEALS OR PRODUCTS AVAILABLE? 

When you are pressed for time but still want to eat at home, you can grab a ready-made meal from the supermarket. You can find a few diabetic friendly options in the grocers in Singapore. Both Cold Storage and Redmart carry a diabetic-friendly range of products. NTUC Fairprice has Ready Made meals with lower sodium and fats that are suitable for diabetics.

Disclaimer: the information provided is for general reference purposes only and it is not intended to substitute medical advice or treatment. If you suffer from pre-diabetes or diabetes, always consult your physician first before making any diet changes.

This article was first published in Shopback

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