Maintaining a balanced diet while still enjoying your favourite food and beverages

Tucking into your favourite char kway teow may not seem like it can be part of a balanced diet, but it can.

Often, we avoid food and beverages that contain fats and sugar because we assume that they cannot be part of a balanced diet and may inevitably bring us over our daily recommended calorie intake, causing us to gain extra weight.

Well, that isn't necessarily true.

According to the Health Promotion Board, the daily calorie requirement is 1,800 for women and 2,200 for men. When you think about how some of our favourite hawker meals can easily amount to 500 calories or more, it would seem practically impossible to keep within 2,000 calories. But balance and moderation is all that's needed.

With proper planning and portion control, you can have an idea of your calorie intake and make allowances for that occasional indulgence whenever you have those cravings.

Here's the idea: If you have a lighter lunch, you can afford to have a more sumptuous dinner.

It doesn't matter how you start off the day; whether your preference is to have a heavy breakfast or a cereal bar on-the-go, you can still enjoy a fulfilling lunch and dinner without exceeding your daily calorie limit.

With that in mind, we've put together some meal suggestions that are under 2,000 calories to suit your different preferences, lifestyles and tastes - and it doesn't even involve dieting!

Daily meal plan 1:

On a regular work day, you might not have time to enjoy breakfast at home and may even end up buying some food on the way to work to eat at your desk.

A kopi-si (coffee with evaporated milk and sugar) is one of the popular pick-me-up drinks that many have, along with a steamed bun or chicken puff. A kopi-si typically has around 90 calories and the chicken puff snack has 340. This breakfast alone has a total of 430 calories - slightly less than a quarter of your daily average 2,000 calorie needs.

For lunch, grab a chicken salad and skip the creamy dressing, which may contain a lot of calories. A chicken salad without the creamy dressing contains only 70 calories. Pair it up with a chocolate malt drink, and your lunch will only be 250 calories. A subsequent cup of latte in the afternoon from the nearby cafeteria to bring energy levels back up will contain approximately 144 calories.

With more than 1,000 calories left in your daily recommended intake, for dinner you can enjoy a chicken rice meal with a cola drink, which are about 620 and 140 calories respectively, and top it off with a serving of apple pie, which contains 230 calories.

As long as we are conscious of what we eat and drink, it is still possible to enjoy our favourite food and drinks without exceeding your calorie count.

**Here's what you're getting/ Breakdown of calories:
Coffee: 90 kcal
Chicken puff snack: 340 kcal
Chicken salad: 70 kcal
Chocolate malt drink: 180 kcal
Chicken rice: 620 kcal
Cup of latte: 144 kcal
Apple pie: 230 kcal
330ml can of cola: 139 kcal

Total: 1813 kcal

Daily meal plan 2:

Like hawker food or maybe it is simply more accessible to you? This sample plan allows you to have at least two popular hawker dishes in a day.

In the morning, have a light breakfast of yoghurt and fresh fruit, and that will leave you with plenty of wiggle room to accommodate having two meals at the hawker centre.

A cup of yoghurt has 90 calories and an apple has 85 - that leaves you with over 1,800 calories for the rest of the day.

For lunch, you can have wanton noodles, a slice of honeydew and a cup of bubble tea - which adds up to about 585 calories.

And for dinner, you can have nasi lemak and fresh juice. Nasi lemak has around 500 calories and carrot juice has 80. You can also indulge in local hawker favorite, ice kacang, which contains approximately 250 calories, to end the day off on a sweet note.

**Here's what you're getting/ Breakdown of calories:
Yoghurt: 90 kcal
Apple: 85 kcal
Wanton noodles: 410 kcal
Honeydew: 45 kcal
Nasi lemak: 500 kcal
Carrot juice: 80 kcal
Ice kacang: 252 kcal
Bubble tea: 335kcal
Total: 1,797 kcal

Daily meal plan 3:

A third daily meal plan to consider is this - char kway teow for lunch and yong tau foo for dinner.

A light breakfast of cereal and milk comes to 235 calories.

For lunch, go ahead and order a plate of char kway teow. Even though this dish comes up to a whopping 745 calories, you just have to be conscious not too consume too many calories later, so dig in!

Pair that delicious plate of char kway teow with a cup of green tea, and the total calorie content for lunch would amount to around 800 calories. A quick mid-afternoon treat of goreng pisang and a cup of teh tarik would add 425 calories to the total calorie count for the day.

Now that you've had an indulgent lunch, having a soup-based yong tau foo with rice or noodles for dinner is a good way to still keep within your daily calorie intake. A soup-based yong tau foo comes to around 475 calories, bringing the total calorie count for the day to 1,936 - which is still within the recommended daily calorie intake. It is important that the yong tau foo ingredients that you choose are a balanced mix of vegetable and meat, and try to leave out the fried stuff if you want to keep it light.

**Here's what you're getting/ breakdown of calories:
Cereal and milk: 235 kcal
Char kway teow: 745 kcal
Green tea: 55 kcal
Yong tau foo with rice or noodles: 475 kcal
Goreng pisang: 197 kcal
Teh tarik: 229 kcal
Total: 1,936 kcal

The meals that we suggested are just a guide. What's more important is to remember that as long as you eat and drink in moderation, you can still enjoy all your favourite foods and beverages while maintaining a balanced diet.

Article brought to you in partnership with Coca-Cola. All opinions are the writer's own.

**Figures of calories stated here are referenced from HPB's iDAT app.