Without a doubt, the healthiest people tend to prepare their own foods at home. You have total control over ingredient quality, and you get to make sure that food is clean, and no unwanted preservatives or hidden flavorings are added.
Also, you can make sure that you use good forms of oils in your cooking. Butter, coconut oil and olive oil (on cold salads only) are great choices. Re-used vegetable oils are very damaging.
This is what we encourage most of our clients at Genesis Gym to do for the best results.
However, I do understand that in fast paced Singapore food preparation time may not always be available. Also, landlords (or kitchen controlling moms) may not want us messing up their cooking spaces, further limiting our choices.
So, what do I suggest that our clients and anyone interested in health eat? What can they find at one of the usual food courts in a shopping mall or a heartland centers?
Here are my top four suggestions.
As you read through them, remember that there are two main questions that you need to ask when choosing a food.
Question 1: Did a caveman have access to this food? If he did, then its probably good for you.
There are ancient, traditional cultures across the world that had great health, and very low incidents of lifestyle related chronic disease e.g. cancer, diabetes, strokes etc.
Some of them, like Eskimos, ate mostly meat and animal fat. And some of them, like northern Indian tribes ate whole grains and diary products.
What they did have in common was that all their food was unprocessed.
So ask yourself, did a caveman have access to meat? Sure he did, so meat, is good for you. But did a caveman have access to chicken nuggets? No, they didn't so that's probably not a good choice.
Question 2: Does this food have a big advertising campaign? If it does, then its probably bad for you.
If there is a budget for a massive ad campaign, that means it's likely that the cost of the food is going to marketing, rather than food quality. For example, do you see ads for fruit juice?
Most of us have seen these - and that means processed fruit juice is not a good choice. But what about a fruit like an apple or guava? You almost never see ads for those, meaning they are likely better for you.
So to the top four list on what are the healthiest choices at food courts:
1. Chicken/Duck rice shops
Eat the meat and a bunch of cucumber. Add rice only if you have just finished a strength training workout.
2. Herbal Soup dishes
For example, watercress and pork ribs, herbal chicken soup, mellon soup, fish soup etc. Again with rice only if you have just finished a strength training workout.
3. Yong Tau Foo stalls
These are great for getting in good quality and quantity of veggies, mushrooms, eggs etc. The fishballs and other processed items should be avoided.
4. Western food stalls
Choose the grilled items, not the deep fried ones. As mentioned above, you want to know what kinds of oils are being used in cooking. Choose a vegetable side dish.
Even if you have no time to cook, you can still make choices that benefit your health, fitness, productivity and waistline!
This article was contributed by Jonathan Wong, a personal trainer and weight loss coach. He has a Doctorate of Science in Holistic Medicine, is a Certified Sports Nutritionist and is the author of "The Happy Body - Getting to the root of YOUR fitness, health and productivity".
Coach Jon, as he is known to his clients, owns Genesis Performance Center, a private health and fitness centre that offers personal training and fitness bootcamps in Singapore. To find out more, visit www.coachjon.com . The views expressed are his own.