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What You Need To Know About the Mediterranean Diet

The  term “Mediterranean Diet” came about in 2013 when medical researchers were studying diets from around the world and tracked the health statuses of women from when they were in their 50s to 60s till they were in the 70s. They found that the people from this small village in Italy had the lowest cases of age-related diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases, and thus started looking into their diets to find out whether it is the cause of their better health status.

mediterranean diet

First, let’s talk about what Mediterranean food is not about. When one mentions Italian or Greek food, one would often think about pasta, pizza, lamb and loaves of bread accompanied by bottles of wine. However, Mediterranean food is more than that and when referring to the Mediterranean diet specifically, it’s about eating a diet that is rich in fruit, vegetables, beans, shellfish, chicken, fish, tomatoes, nuts, olive oil and…even, red wine. For example, the paella or pilaf has a lot of the above ingredients inside. Nonetheless, the key to everything is moderation.

This “Mediterranean diet” has been around for thousands of years but contrary to what most would believe, it’s not just a diet but a way of life. People who live with the diet don’t just eat; they also lead active lives, get a lot of exercise and are very social. It’s a lifestyle that is meant to keep you healthy in all fronts – physical, emotional and mental.

Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

We’ve talked a lot about the Mediterranean diet and what it is, but you might be wondering what the benefits of it actually are, people wouldn’t talk about it if it didn’t live up to the hype after all. The main benefit that everyone mentions when they talk about this particular diet is how it can help prevent heart disease, type-2 diabetes, obesity and even depression.

It’s Low in Processed Foods and Sugar

Ingredients found in Mediterranean food tend to be natural with little processing and no artificial flavouring, favouring on fresh produce. The only ‘processed’ foods would be items such as cheese, sausages and preserved olives or capers. It doesn’t shy away from carbs nor is it exceptionally high in protein (e.g. Atkins or Paleo diets).

The Mediterranean diet is also low in sugar, with the only sugar present being in fruits and wines. It also involves drinking a lot of fresh water or natural juices, which also lowers the consumption of sugar that could lead towards diabetes.

Helps You Lose Weight

This is one of the main reasons why the Mediterranean diet is so popular. Not only is it sustainable, the ingredients are all healthy and offer a variety of nutrients (protein and omega 3s etc) that allow you to lead a healthy life without making you go hungry, so you won’t have to skimp on food. Not just that, there’s also a large variety of foods and dishes, so you won’t have to worry about sticking to only one type of food, you can try out different recipes that suit your palate or needs.

prostate cancer

Improves Heart Health and Prevents Cancer

The benefit of a lot of these dishes, and their reliance on olive oil in particular, is that they offer a great amount of Omega 3 fatty acids that can help heart disease, as some famous stars would tell you. Coupled with a diet high on fish and the chances of cardiac arrest can be lowered by 30%, with sudden cardiac death going down by 45% or more.

Olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil, is also great at lowering hypertension because it makes nitric oxide more bioavailable, which makes it better able to keep arteries dilated and clear. It also helps fight against oxidation and improves endothelial functions, which is further enhanced by the antioxidant resveratrol found in red wine.

The antioxidants found in red wine and the various fruit and vegetables also help to prevent cancer by protecting DNA cells and slows down the degenerating rate as well as lowering cell mutation and delaying tumor growth.

healthy fats

Prevents Diabetes

Its ability to lower inflammation also makes Mediterranean diets able to lower the risks of diseases such as metabolic syndrome and type-2 Diabetes. The reason for this might be in the fact that foods found in this group control excess insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar levels, and makes us gain and retain weight.

People living with a Mediterranean diet eat a balanced breakfast shortly after waking up and eat all three meals a day, with their biggest one usually being lunch.

Can Prevent Cognitive Disease and Help You Live Longer

The effects of anti-inflammatory vegetables and fruits also help fight age-related cognitive decline. Thus, the Mediterranean diet can work as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, which are often thought to be related to the lack of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is necessary for body movements, body regulations and thought processing.

This diet also encourages people to spend more time with nature as well as getting a good sleep and spending time with loved ones. Constantly spending time with those you care about helps release dopamine too, and can help with fighting stress and depression.

Plant-based foods and healthy fats also act as a good combination for longevity. Olive oil for its part offers a lot of monounsaturated fat, which is associated with lower levels of all the diseases we’ve mentioned before and also acts as the main offering of this diet.

 

These are some of the main benefits tied to Mediterranean diets that have helped push it into popularity as of recent years. It stands out even more in an age where people are looking to live healthier and change the direction of their lives.

However, like many things in life, a Mediterranean diet will only help you if you eat the correct amount of calories for your body type and weight, and stick to it. If you’re able to find a balance and follow the diet as best you can we’re sure to get results.


Photo Credits: Draxe.com, Wallpaper Gallery, Natural Society, UPI, US News Health

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Iron Supplements: Do You Need Them?

 

A poll result published on 26 Nov 2015 indicates that nearly 50% of females in Singapore may not be aware that they have iron deficiency. Doctors said that symptoms such as physical and mental fatigue, hair loss, brittle nails, may point to iron deficiency – but most people may put them down to stress and/or lack of sleep.

Iron deficiency is more often found in women who have heavy menstruations or are pregnant. While iron supplements may be readily available, doctors recommend a balanced diet as the best way to maintain healthy iron levels.

iron supplements

How about the reverse – iron overload?

In the article published by PhysiciansCommittee, iron is called a double-edged sword.

The body requires iron for healthy blood cells but beyond a certain level, iron becomes a dangerous substance as it acts as a catalyst for the formation of free radicals. Once the excess iron is absorbed by the digestive tract, the body stores it. Because of this, research studies have shown that higher amounts of iron in the blood mean higher risk of cancer.

In spite of advertising from health supplement manufacturers, iron overload exists and the tendency is higher for men and for women after menopause.

anaemia

Major contributors to iron excess are taking vitamin and mineral supplements that contain iron. Some people may be taking certain multi-vitamins without knowing that there is iron in it. Other factors include eating excessive red meat and to some extent, processed foods that have iron added.

It was mentioned earlier that women with heavy menstruations may have iron deficiency. The reverse may be true for women after menopause or women who don’t menstruate regularly. Which explains why men have a higher tendency of iron overload – because they don’t menstruate!

Hence, it is prudent to have your doctor check your iron level before taking any supplements containing iron.

What are the symptoms of iron overload?

  • stomach pain
  • heart palpitations or chest pains
  • unexplained weakness
  • joint pain
  • unexplained fatigue

joint pain

The test used to check one’s iron level is known as ferritin. Ferritin is a protein that stores iron, releasing it when the body needs it. Ferritin is stored in the body’s cells until it’s time to make more red blood cells. Thus, if a person has an iron overload, it may take months before the normal level can be reached.

It’s an inexpensive test, likely costing less than a bottle of iron supplements, and it can help ensure that you do not over or under-consume iron.

For more information on integrated health management, visit www.vitalay.earth

Contributed by LayYong, Wellness Entrepreneur.


References:

The Straits Times “Women not aware of iron deficiency”, Nov 26 2015

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Iron: The Double Edged Sword, www.pcrm.org

Photo credits: Pixabay and JustSaying.Asia

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Thinking About a Soup Cleanse?

The Chinese have always been promoting the nutritiousness of soups, as seen from the variety and how each type of soup is able to help soothe the lungs and other internal organs. However, with the recent trend in detox plans and juice cleanse, there is a new trend called – soup cleanse.

All of us here at The Wellness Insider are healthily sceptical about soup cleanses considering how little evidence there is about them, so we decided to ask the experts. Integrative Dentist and Health Coach, Dr Surinder Arora, said that the point of soup cleanses was to get “people to eat whole real foods if the soups are prepared themselves” and that “this is another way to get these good foods into the body.” However, she did mention that soup cleanses are “not needed if people have eliminated artificial and processed junk foods from their diet.”

So, in other words, it is not a total ‘don’t try it!’ diet regime and it might be a good way for you to try and cut back from sugar and other additives. Nonetheless, it’s not meant to be a long term diet but like most of us, it’s great to have a bowl of soup once in a while.

If you’re interested in doing a soup cleanse, then you may want to try out the following recipes by our friends at Gergich & Co. in this simple infographic.
Click to Enlarge Image

Soup up Your Lifestyle with a Soup Cleanse

 

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Superfood Your Dessert with a DIY Acai Bowl

Superfoods is a recent term used on a whole group of foods that are high in nutritions but low in calories, perfect for getting your vitamins and proteins in without the popping of multiple pills. Not sure about you, but I much prefer to eat my vitamins and minerals.

The super berry Acai

The acai (pronounced as ah-sigh-ee) berry, is one such superfood and it comes from the Amazon forest. Prized as an important staple in the Amazonian diet for generations, did you know that the deep purple berry contains high natural antioxidants (the anthocyanin responsible for giving it the characteristic purple colour), essential amino acids, omega fatty acids, calcium, iron and even fibre. This means that the humble acai berry is capable of boosting one’s immunity and keep your body in balance.

acai bowl

Since we can’t get the fresh berries in Asia, the next best thing would be the freeze-dried powder as freeze drying still retains most of its nutritions. You can add the powder as a flavouring into your yoghurts, ice cream, smoothies or juices and the latest dessert trend is the delicious Acai Bowl. Making one is really not that tough and here’s the recipe which is vegan and vegetarian friendly:

Ingredients:

1 medium sized frozen banana
1-2 heaped tablespoons Nature’s Superfoods Acai Berry Powder
1 tablespoon nut butter (cashew, almond etc)
1/3 cup iced water

For garnish:
Fresh cut fruit of your choice, sweet cacao nibs, pumpkin seeds or chia seeds

Method:

Blend the frozen banana with the berry powder, nut butter and iced water until you get a smooth consistency. Top it off with your choice of fresh cut fruit and seeds as well as the cacao nibs to give it a chocolatey flavour!

 

For our bowl, we added kombucha instead of iced water to give it some probiotics and topped it off with pine nuts, chlorophyll powder, chia seeds, passionfruit and cacao nibs. You can also add in protein powder (use the flavourless or vanilla flavoured ones) or maca powder to make it a complete meal. Enjoy!


Recipe from Nature’s Superfoods.

Photography by Melissa Fann.

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Top 10 Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Singapore

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, it can get a bit tough to find places outside with delicious and healthy options. We’re also talking about a balanced meal without copious amounts of starch but also protein and fibre. Thanks to our friends at EatPrayFlying.com, they tried and tasted several vegetarian restaurants in Singapore which we further refined to give you a top 10 list.

All of these places offer vegan options, most offer organic foods and all of them do not compromise on taste. Thus, even non-vegetarians will still enjoy a meal there without missing their usual meaty fare.

1. Herbivore

With the names of dishes such as Katsudon, sashimi and other meat-based foods, we wouldn’t blame you for thinking that Herbivore doesn’t live up to their name. However, even though the taste and texture are just like those meaty dishes, Herbivore’s Japanese food is 100% vegetarian and excellent to boot. They do add MSG and colouring into their food, so that may be something that you may want to keep in mind.

Herbivore
190 Middle Road
#01-13/14 Fortune Centre
Tel. no.: +65 6333 1612
Opening Hours:

Mon-Fr11:30 – 15:00
17:00 – 22:00
Sat & Sun11:30 – 22:00

2. Foy Yin Vegetarian Food

The first item on our list is an old school vegetarian food stall found within a hawker centre. It has great vegetarian dishes that taste just like their meat variants such as their “fish” soup and “duck” rice. Make sure to get there early though as the queues can get pretty long.

Foy Yin Vegetarian Food
Blk 628 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4
#01-70 Block 628 Market & Food Centre

3. Original Sin

This restaurant is one of Singapore’s most established vegetarian places, with a great variety of western styled foods and salads that offer something for everyone, and the food is sure to rock your taste buds. You shouldn’t miss the chance to try out their Turkish Flat Bread, Falafel Salad and their highly recommended risotto. They are one of the pricier choices but it’s a great treat with family and friends.

Original Sin
Blk 43 Jalan Merah Saga
#01-62 Holland Village Chip Bee Gardens
Singapore 278115
Tel. no.: +65 6475 5605
Email: [email protected]

4. Café Salivation

Café Salivation was one of the first Western vegetarian cafes to open in Little India back in 2008. Salivation offers a variety of dishes such as salads, sandwiches and their unique pasta that are to die for. They don’t use any MSG, so that’s a double win right there.

Café Salivation
176 Race Course Road
Singapore 218607
Tel. no.: +65 6298 1412
Website: www.cafesalivation.com

5. Living Café and Deli

Vegans and vegetarians have a sweet tooth too! And Living Café and Deli is just the right place to have your cake and eat it. The recipes here aren’t entirely vegan (some of their mains have white meat) but it does have a large selection of vegan options and a variety of raw desserts that any sweets lover will approve.

Living Café and Deli
779 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 269758
Tel no.: +65 6468 4482
Website: www.balancedlivingasia.com/living-cafe-and-deli
Opening Hours:

Mon11:00 – 19:00
Tue – Fri11:00 – 22:00
Sat09:00 – 22:00
Sun09:00 – 19:00

6. Kampung Senang

Kampung Senang isn’t just a restaurant; it’s also an eco-conscious charity that aims to help cancer patients recover. They’ve used this as a basis for installing an organic kitchen to their Holistic Lifestyle Centre and in turn, aim to promote a healthy lifestyle to members of the charity as well as schools and corporations. Aside from offering great sushi rolls and a selection of organic food, they also hold seminars, workshops and educational talks.

Kampung Senang
Blk 106 Aljunied Crescent
#01-205
Singapore 380106
Tel. no.: +65 6749 8509

7. Create Healthy Lifestyle Café

You wouldn’t believe how crowded this little café gets and if you’re lucky enough to brave through the crowd or queue, then you’ll definitely appreciate it’s organic meals that are at affordable prices. There are several other vegetarian eateries within Fortune Centre but we like how Create just lets the ingredients speak for themselves and the dishes are quite well balanced.

Create Healthy Lifestyle Café
190 Middle Road
#02-17 Fortune Centre
Singapore 188979
Tel. no.: +65 6336 4355

8. Afterglow

Afterglow is one of the few organic restaurants that serves entirely raw food. The restaurant offers a ton of vegan and raw dishes ranging from soups, vegetable-based chips and even lasagna (don’t ask us how they do it). All of their recipes have been worked on so as to bring out the best of each dish. However, the prices for the food can be a little steep if you’re just looking for a place to eat and the portion sizes are a bit on the small side, mostly because of how much work it takes to make entirely raw dishes. Nonetheless, it is an experience eating here.

Afterglow
24 Keong Saik Road
Singapore 089131
Tel. no.:+65 6224 8921

9. Sunny Choice

Sunny Choice mainly sells organic products, not just foods but also everyday home-care. Which is why it comes as no surprise their their cafe serves up organic vegetarian versions of local delights (bak kut teh, anyone?). They serve fresh organic juices and after your meal, you can stock up on your groceries too.

Bukit Merah
Blk 125 Bukit Merah Lane 1
#01-158
Singapore 150125
Tel. no.: +65 6272 3138
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat, 10:00 – 15:00 (closed on Sundays and Public Holidays)

Bukit Timah
434 Upper Bukit Timah Road
The Rail Mall
Singapore 678060
Tel. no.: +65 6892 2383
Opening Hours: Daily, 10:30 – 21:00 (last order at 20:30)

Bukit Batok
Blk 630 Bukit Batok Central
#01-154
Singapore 650630
Tel. no.: +65 6899 0918
Opening Hours: Daily, 10:30 – 21:00 (last order at 20:30)

10. Real Food

Real Food has become the leading restaurant when it comes to organic vegetarian food in Singapore. It originally started out as a small restaurant in Central, Clark Quay but has since grown and expanded over the years. They’ve become famous due to their support of ethical farming and food preparation, but their food is no joke. With fresh, organic and completely raw ingredients, they can make such amazing dishes as their Fried Vermicelli and Dumpling Soup along with a selection of pasta and sandwiches. It’s an experience you just won’t want to miss although we do advise you to skip their water (S$0.50 for a tiny glass).

The Central
6 Eu Tong Sen Street
#B1-52/53 The Central
Singapore 059817
Tel. no.: +65 6224 4492

Square 2
10 Sinaran Drive
#B1-105/106/129 Square 2
Singapore 307506
Tel. no.: +65 6397 2289

Killiney
110 Killiney Road
Tai Wah Building
Singapore 239549
Tel. no: +65 6737 9516

Website: www.realfoodgrocer.com

We hope that this list was as helpful to you in choosing some non-meat alternative places to eat. There are still many more vegetarian and vegan restaurants around Singapore so make sure to do some exploring of your own as well. With that said, it’s time to go out and eat!

If you’re a café or restaurant and would like us to contact us to do a review, do email us at [email protected].


Photo Credits: TripAdvisor, Eat Pray Flying, Chope, Kampung Senang, Sunny Choice

Original post by EatPrayFlying

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Best Healthy Lunch Deliveries in Singapore

Quite a lot of us have the excuse that we don’t eat healthy because we’re either too busy to prepare our meals or it is hard to do so when you’re working as there are no healthy food options around your office. Well, we hear you and we’re here to squelch those excuses as we introduce to you some options of healthy food that can be delivered to your doorstep. Healthy lunch 1 Excuses 0.

Over 2 weeks, we reviewed food from 4 healthy lunch deliveries and we judged them on Taste, Appearance and Experience (ease of ordering etc). Read on as we give our reviews (and casual awards) to Grain, Dosirak, FitThree and YOLO Food.

Best online luxe food delivery – Grain

Pan-seared Norwegian Salmon

Their website is very user-friendly and the food definitely takes centrestage. They have weekly specials chosen by their chef, and for the week that we did our tasting, it was Roasted Lamb. What makes eating healthy for the whole week easier is that their website allows you to plan your meal ahead, which really works for people with a very busy schedule. What else was more impressive is that the whole start to finish user experience was really thoughtful – you get an alert as to when your food was about to arrive; after your meal, you get an email asking you for feedback which only goes to show how much they value your opinion and their willingness to improve. Something noteworthy is that the containers used are all environmentally friendly, with exception to the plastic covers.

Melissa’s ReviewMatthew’s Review
Day 1Chose:

  • Weekly Special of Roasted Lamb Leg
  • Earl Grey Pear Tart

The lamb was really tender and the sauce had a mild curry flavour to it, all on a bed of super creamy mash and some roasted carrots. It was so lush that it’ll fool you into think that it is not healthy. The quality is restaurant standard, so it is quite a bargain at S$14.95. At 600 calories (yes, it’s all labeled), it was not a light meal per se and I probably should’ve held off on the dessert. Nonetheless, it only contains 27g of fat, 56g of protein and 69g of carbs! My main complaints were that the lamb still had a bit of sinew to it and was difficult to eat with only a fork and spoon. Knife please. Secondly, I wished there were more greens as the fibre from carrots was not enough in my opinion.

The Earl Grey Pear Tart was ok. Maybe they should take away the ‘Earl Grey’ part because I couldn’t taste the distinct bergamot flavour which makes up earl grey.

Meal satisfaction = 8.5/10

Chose:

  • Grilled Tiger Prawns with
    dry curried Fusilli

The prawns were really flavourful and fresh, which is always a plus point for seafood. The cherry tomatoes were caramelised (smart choice) and added a light sweetness to the whole dish. There was also mushy black beans in the foray which added a nice contrast of texture that made it a pleasant experience eating the dish, with crunchy tiger prawns and fusilli cooked al dente. The best part was how they got the portion made just right for the Asian stomach. I didn’t feel bloated or left hungry after consuming the entire serving.

Meal satisfaction = 7/10

Day 2Chose:

  • Honey Soy Tempeh
  • Grilled Farm Fresh Chicken
  • Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart

I love tempeh and Grain’s version is amazingly good with the honey soy sauce. It’s super low in calories, high in fibre and great to share, which I did. The honey soy sauce had this incredible smokey flavour which added more depth to the grilled tempeh. Highly recommended!

Ok…the chef who is in charge of the grill is a master! The grill on the chicken was on point! Excellent char with slight smokey flavour and when you pair that with steamed vegetables, it was simple but delicious. Love the Asian twist by using black rice as the staple and it added a slight creaminess to the whole dish. Wished there was more pesto sauce though.

You will not want to share the chocolate tart. ‘Nuff said.

Meal satisfaction = 9.5/10 (0.5 more points if there was more pesto sauce)

Chose:

  • Pan-seared Norwegian Salmon

This is great for days when you have late lunches. Mind you, this dish is served cold and ready to eat whenever.

The salmon was not overcooked, which meant that it was not tough and the pan-seared Western style left the inner meat soft like sashimi, which felt like it was a fusion dish. Personally I prefer having my salmon done this way, with a nice milky aesthetic and bite with a melted texture like sashimi at its core.

The vinaigrette enhanced the overall flavour since most of the dish was vegetables. This is my favourite dish out of all the meals tried throughout the 2 weeks.

I did initially order a tempeh to match my salmon but it was finished before my order. Nonetheless, I’m glad the salmon more than compensated for my satisfaction.

Meal satisfaction = 9.5/10

Day 3Chose:

  • Char-grilled Zucchini and Couscous bowl
  • Grilled Piri-piri Chicken (side)
  • Coconut milkshake (there’s no milk)

Once again, kudos to the grill master. The grilled chicken was so good, I was tempted to toss it into the couscous.

I am a bit ambivalent with regards to the Char-grilled Zucchini and Couscous. It tasted great on the whole as I love mozzarella balls, the amount of zucchini made me happy (what…I like my veg!) and I liked the bits of olive and cherry tomatoes. However, the whole dish was really dry and that’s where the coconut drink came in handy. Also, they decided not to compromise on presentation, resulting in very large halves of the zucchini which you couldn’t eat in one bite and had less grilled flavour compared to the smaller slices.

Not particularly fond of the coconut milkshake which was essentially blitzed coconut flesh in coconut water. Cool shade of pink though.

Meal satisfaction = 8/10 (saved by the Piri-piri chicken)

Chose:

  • Roasted Lamb Leg
  • Honey Soy Tempeh
  • Earl Grey Pear Tart

The Roasted Lamb leg had a strong flavour and they were pretty generous with the portion. The ingredients’ natural flavours were highlighted and accompanied well with their chunky mashed potatoes. I liked that their mash wasn’t totally smooth as it added texture while eating.

It was a happy experience eating the tempeh. The dish was literally sweet and savoury at the same time.

The tart was not as fantastic as I had hoped it to be. Tasted a little more like a breakfast pastry than a dessert.

Meal satisfaction = 8/10

Overall Score8.5/10

Restaurant quality at café prices with convenience. Vegan option only on demand. I’m still not too convinced that it’s the healthiest choice as I reckon that there should be more green vegetables in most of the dishes.

9/10

+1 for the sustainable boxes sans plastic labels. They have a very diverse but yet familiar menu selection. I find them to be the most well rounded healthy food delivery with exceptional quality and great customer service.

Head on over to www.grain.com.sg to view their full menu and do use the promo code RF36812 to get S$5 off your first order!

Most fun meal experience – Do.Si.Rak

Beef Bulgogi

Dosirak literally means ‘lunch box’ in Korean so you know that they know that you want your lunch quick but healthy. The packaging is entertaining with Korean motifs and it’s handy and reusable if you choose to keep it for future use. Needless to say, their menu is Korean-inspired and you get to choose from their menu that ranges from beef, fish and vegetarian options. Each meal is under 500 kcal unless you decide to top up more protein or carbohydrates. They even have the HPB’s “Healthier Choice” stamp of approval! Starts from S$7.90.

Melissa’s ReviewMatthew’s Review
Day 1

Beef Bulgogi with White Rice

The beef was really tender and I had fun pouring the sauce in and shaking the whole tub up! I loved the fact that there was A LOT of vegetables, including my favourite ‘big head’ bean sprouts.

 

There was a familiar sesame aroma and the beef was moist. The layering of meat, salad and rice makes you eat complex carbohydrates last if you choose not to mix it up.

 

Spicy Chicken with Brown RiceDidn’t add a lot of sauce to this because the chicken was already spicy. The brown rice was very fragrant!

Meal satisfaction = 8/10

The Spicy Chicken was mostly, well, spicy. I felt that it was less flavourful than the beef.

Meal satisfaction = 7/10

Day 2

Salmon Soba Noodles

 

I liked the raw salmon with the soba but because soba doesn’t absorb that much sauce compared to rice, the flavour of the sauce was overpowering. It got a little too spicy after a couple of mouthfuls. I would’ve actually changed the sauce from the typical Korean one to perhaps a Japanese sesame ponzu version.The Salmon with Soba Noodles reminded me of sushi in a takeaway box. I was a tad disappointed with this because of its resemblance to a tamago sushi but had contrasting flavour, although the salmon did go well with the natural sweetness from the vegetables.
 Avocado Cauliflower ‘rice’This is the vegetarian option and I must say that I love the ‘rice’! Also, there was Japanese sweet potato in the dish, which I was feeling slightly dubious about because I didn’t think it would go with the avocado and the sauce. However, I was pleasantly surprised that it did go very well! In fact, it lessened the saltiness of the sauce and gave the dish small bursts of flavour that wasn’t just sauce.

Meal satisfaction = 7.5/10 (let down mainly because of the Salmon Soba)

Much preferred the Avocado Sweet Potato with Cauliflower Rice compared to the salmon. The natural sweetness of the ingredients were a good start, with the avocado matching well with the sweet potatoes and mushrooms. All went really well with the spicy sauce while the cauliflower ‘rice’ gave the whole dish a fresh flavour.

Meal satisfaction = 9/10 (I really liked the cauliflower rice and sweet potato combination)

Day 3

Soy Chicken with White Rice

Tasted the chicken first and the soy taste wasn’t very strong. Needless to say, there was no more soy taste after adding the Korean chilli sauce. This is the safest option if you don’t like raw fish or beef.

Meal satisfaction = 6/10

There was a very strong garlic flavour. In my opinion, this was rather generic and average compared to other dishes. The chicken cubes were quite lean and I liked the moist lotus root bits which added texture to the meal. I was spoiled by the soy chicken recipes from other franchises (albeit not the healthy kind) For a healthy option, I surely wasn’t expecting the overwhelming garlic.

Meal satisfaction = 5/10

Overall Score7/10 

Fun to eat once in a while but would be great if they had more sauce options.

6/10

Besides their handy food packaging and well layered delivery, they’re pretty much alright. It is good as a traditional healthy option.

Flavour is decent and it’s good as a quick “to-go” healthy meal.

If you’re in the Raffles Place/ Chinatown area then you can order from their store at China Square Central (18 Cross Street) and enjoy their promotion of “Buy 4 for the price of 3” . Otherwise, get them to deliver through foodpanda.sg. Do note that Foodpanda’s delivery charges and minimum order applies, which is why it would be a good idea to get your gym buddy or lunch kaki to join you to Shake It Up.

Most no-brainer meals for the gym rat or health conscious – FitThree

Yakitori Chicken Meat Balls with Asian Vegetables Medley (low carb menu)

If you have specific fitness or health goals in mind and you don’t really want to think about your meals, FitThree definitely helps you plan out your meals while you just concentrate on your exercise. They made it even easier by allowing you to pick your meals up from several gyms located all over the island. This means that you can hit the gym and then have your lunch after that. They deliver the meals cold and you simply warm them up in the microwave. That truly is guilt-free fast food at only S$12.90 per dietician-approved meal. They run it subscription-style and the menu changes every week.

However, their communication was not so great as we had asked for a 3-day meal plan to review but only received 1. Moreover, both of us received different amounts of food. Thus, we were not able to effectively sample their menu.

Melissa’s ReviewMatthew’s Review
Lunch: Yakitori Chicken Meat Balls with Asian Vegetables Medley (low carb menu)

The amount of stir-fried vegetables sang to me and made me happy even before I ate a bite. When I did bite into it, it was a tad peppery but mellowed out after chomping into the meatballs. Oh…the meatballs. They were so good that two of them were ‘stolen’ by my mother whom I was sitting next to.

Dinner: Thai Basil Meatballs with Asian Style Zucchini and Coconut Brown Rice (omnitarian menu)

These beef balls were really really good. Even after being microwaved. There was no sauce but the whole dish was surprisingly moist. The coconut brown rice was really fragrant but not cloyingly rich, unlike nasi lemak. I wasn’t too impressed with the zucchini which were sliced and soaked in vinegar and ginger.

Meal satisfaction = 8.5/10 (best meatballs EVER!)

Lunch: Sesame Chicken Brown Rice and Mixed Vegetables (omnitarian menu)

This is a no frills meal. Simple seasoning that tasted familiar and great, brown rice and toss in frozen peas, carrots and corn. It works well as a fundamental post-workout meal for the busy fitness junkie.

Dinner: Thai Basil Meatballs with Asian Style Zucchini and Coconut Brown Rice (omnitarian menu)

The meatballs did taste addictive and I was popping them into my mouth enjoyably. The aesthetics were a little plain but the flavour more than make up for it. The coconut flavour was rather strong and I hold mixed feelings about it.

Meal satisfaction = 7.5/10

If you’re on a controlled diet with strict caloric count, then FitThree might be the choice meal for you. They don’t do home or office deliveries unless you’re nearby (do check), so they clearly know their target audience. To peruse their menu, do visit www.fitthree.com. Readers get 30% off their first orders when using the code TWIMAY.

Almost like home cooked food…with a zing – YOLO Food

Miso Salmon with Kailan and Broccoli on Quinoa

Our good friend, Luke Tan, has worked with YOLO Foods to come up with some vegan options that are still nutritionally holistic. That is why we knew that YOLO would definitely deliver on taste and health benefits too. They’ve got a good selection of Asian dishes with the most healthy ingredients in our opinion.

Melissa’s ReviewMatthew’s Review
Day 1

Miso Salmon Quinoa

There’s a certain unfair expectation when I saw all my favourite ingredients in a box. Not to mention that I have cooked cod and salmon in miso before. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised that the salmon was not too salty (what miso did they use?) and the sesame coating added a nice sorta bite to it all. Brought out the nutty flavour of the quinoa too. Loved the generous portion of vegetables although they were not that flavourful. Wished there was more salmon though. I was left with quite a lot of quinoa after devouring the salmon and veggies.

Meal satisfaction = 8.5/10

It is savoury and the sesame coating didn’t give it an overwhelming flavour, which made me very impressed as most food franchises use sesame as a disguising seasoning. The kailan and broccoli were a good addition to make it a balanced meal. On a side note, they were using my favourite ingredients too and definitely not adapting Melissa’s review content.

Meal satisfaction = 9.5/10

Day 2

Coconut Chicken with Brown Rice and Vegetables

With studies showing that coconut is really not bad for you plus the medium-chained triglycerides found in coconut oil being good for you, it comes to no surprise that coconut is now the ‘in’ ingredient for a lot of health foods.

Similar to the coconut rice from FitThree, YOLO’s Coconut Chicken wasn’t creamy nor did it taste like nasi lemak. It was lightly fragrant, which means that there’s probably a mixture of both coconut milk and coconut water to cook the chicken in. As a result, the dish was subtle in terms of flavour and after a few mouthfuls, became a bit boring despite the zesty lime juice. The lightly stir-fried vegetables with sweet potatoes did not help in adding more dimensions to the dish either. Thank goodness for the cashew nuts to bring this Thai-inspired meal together but alas, not enough cashew nuts.

Was filling though and lasted for more than 4 hours till dinner without any snacking involved.

Meal satisfaction = 6/10

I have to apologise that I was unable to review this dish as I was busy and did not put the dish in the fridge in time before it turned bad.

 

Meal satisfaction = NA

Day 3

I had a nice surprise with Meatball pasta with eggplant and cherry tomatoes!

I spy my little eye on enoki mushrooms and some other vegetables hidden within the meatballs. Clever! The pasta was al dente, which earned YOLO Food solid brownie points because it is not easy to deliver pasta without it becoming soggy. The meatballs were pretty decent and were a very close fight with FitThree’s but I preferred the latter’s. Very satisfying and the portion was perfect. Add in some grilled courgette and I’ll be extra happy with this dish!

Meal satisfaction = 8.5/10

Received the gluten-free and vegan option of Peranakan Vegetable Curry with Brown Rice. I remembered to keep it refrigerated this time round and microwaved it later to eat.

The portion was adequate and it was fragrant when I opened the package. The curry is the signature of my experience of reviewing YOLO Food. It felt so much like home and the tangy taste of the vegetables inside made it so much more. They definitely stayed true to the Peranakan flavour. Needless to say, there are plenty of personal attachments to this dish.

The brown rice gave great contrast to the soft vegetables as it had a bit of husk. I have to say it made my day after missing out on the coconut chicken and a hectic day. They definitely spent time considering other factors of the eating experience besides taste.

Meal satisfaction = 10/10

Overall Score8/10

I felt that YOLO Food treated every ingredient with thought on how to not compromise on flavour but yet not over or undercook them so that they’re nutritionally good. Also loved their seemingly nonchalance in packaging and presentation but if you’ve ever done food prep or events, you’ll know that Yolo does care about its food.

9.5/10

Quite like their functional packaging while it would be a plus if they have a sustainable initiative included. They definitely deliver on flavour using the natural taste of the ingredients which is quite impressive.  Their presentation seems a little plain.

YOLO Food offers bespoke weekly meal plans that suits your needs and goals, starting from S$99. Otherwise, you can also opt just for their normal menu items which begin from S$10.90 or even build your own meal at S$12.90. Our readers will also get a free coffee or tea when you mention “Wellness Insider” during your purchase in-store!

If you’re in the Tanjong Pagar area then you can order from their store at ICON Village (12 Gopeng Street). Otherwise, get them delivered through Uber Eats. Do note that Uber Eats’ delivery charges and minimum order applies so you might want to buddy-up or perhaps order both lunch and dinner at the same time. Just remember to refrigerate if the items are served warm. Use the code eats-ubermelfann to get S$10 off your first order on Uber Eats.

 

If you would like your company’s products to be reviewed and featured on The Wellness Insider, please drop us an email at [email protected].


Photo credits: Melissa Fann, Matthew Yeo, Dosirak and YOLO Food.

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What Should Be Your Biggest Meal of the Day?

There’s an old adage: “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper,” and it appears to have some truth. Timing of meals may play a part in controlling weight and health. There is emerging research to say that eating too much at night may not be good for health; however, there is not much research to show exactly which meal (breakfast or lunch) should be the heaviest.

Consuming more than a third of daily energy intake at an evening meal doubled the risk of obesity compared to consuming more than a third of energy intake before noon. Similarly, another study in which subjects were assigned to consume a larger proportion of their energy at breakfast lost more weight than those who consumed a majority of their energy at dinner. Having lunch later than 3pm also resulted in less weight loss and more insulin resistance (regardless of calorie intake). The reasons for this phenomenon is uncertain, although a study showed that eating lunch at a later time (4.30pm) than earlier (1pm) caused lower metabolic rate and lower carbohydrate use. These data suggest that weight control may be more effective if a larger proportion of total daily calories is taken in the morning rather than later in the day.

Additionally, there have been some studies (both animal and preliminary human studies) that show time-restricted fasting (restricting any calories from food and beverages) for 12-14 hours overnight may have some benefits for weight loss, reduce risk factors related to diabetes, cancer and heart disease; and that this can occur regardless of the total calories consumed. But this is true only when intake is restricted to earlier in the day rather than late at night. Unfortunately, humans are not mice, and even in human studies it is incredibly difficult to tease out potential benefits of a diet with other factors.

Hence, larger scale human studies are required to confirm these results, and especially to compare the effectiveness of diet controlling time/frequency of meals compared with other calorie-restricted diets which have stronger evidence.

I heard somewhere that lunch being the heaviest meal helps with weight loss. Is this true?

There’s an article by PopSugar that says that lunch should be the heaviest meal. This is based on a research study published this year. PopSugar’s article explains the differences between the two groups, with those having a heavier dinner (dinner group) losing less weight than those having heavier lunch (lunch group). Let’s delve deeper into the study design to show that while it’s promising results, the evidence is not strong enough to recommend this specific rigid diet plan.

Something that wasn’t considered thoroughly in the study was the total calorie reduction between the two groups. Although it was considered not ‘statistically significantly different’, comparing the beginning of the study to the end (12 weeks later), the lunch group ate an average of 383 calories less each day. Compared to 332 calorie less for the dinner group.

This means that the lunch group’s reduction in calories was 51 calories more per day compared to the dinner group. 51 calories x 7 days x 12 weeks = 4,284 calories over the whole intervention (in terms of the calories reduced in the dinner group vs lunch group on average). The total carbohydrate, fat and protein intake is also a bit higher in the dinner group at Week 12 (although not ‘statistically significant’).

Considering 7,700 calories is approximately the amount you need to cut down to lose 1kg body fat, the fact that the lunch group had a greater total calorie reduction of roughly 4,284 over the whole intervention does translate to almost 0.6 kg reduction (that’s about 1.3 pounds).

That does account for some of the approximate 3.2 pounds extra weight loss from the lunch group. So perhaps it was not purely due to the fact that the participants lost weight because of the timing, but it might be also to do with the total calories being less each day when they ate a heavier lunch.

Why could eating a heavier lunch mean slightly lower calorie intake overall? It’s all speculation, but it could be because those who were told to have heavier lunches, didn’t have a lot of time to prepare large elaborate lunches in the first place (as they could be working and busy to prepare or spend much time eating. After all, you’re more likely to be grabbing a quick sandwich or soup at lunch than wanting to gorge on a big bowl of pasta at a nice restaurant when you have a meeting scheduled soon!). Then when they go home, they realise that the dinner is meant to be only 20% of their total calorie intake, and so they consciously reduce their dinner.

Whereas those who were assigned the dinner heavy group, could be eating similar lunches as their usual (e.g. lighter meals like sandwiches), and then perhaps when they reach home, they know that they can ‘gorge’ on 50% of their calorie intake, and have the time and effort to prepare something nice or go out and eat something fancy or indulgent.

And when are you more likely to mindlessly eat unhealthy snacks? When you’re busy at work, or at home after work while watching TV? For most people, it would be the latter. If you know you’re supposed to eat ‘more at night’ (i.e. the dinner group), you’d be more inclined to eat more midnight munchies, than somebody who knows they shouldn’t be eating too much at night (i.e. the lunch group). While the study said that the calories and nutrient composition of the two groups were similar during the intervention, there is research that shows underreporting of eating in overweight people, especially for snacks. So in effect, there could potentially be an even greater calorie reduction difference between the two groups than reported.

Another factor to consider is that when people are given the option to eat more at night, they probably will spend more time eating (or possibly preparing food) too, which leaves less time for physical activity (since most people wouldn’t do exercise at work in the daytime). Whereas those who were assigned ‘lunch group’ would have spent less time on preparing or eating a large meal at night after work, and had more chances to do physical activity. Hence, higher chance of burning calories and losing weight.

The only way to know for sure whether the difference in weight was due purely to the timing of the meals (rather than the total calorie input and output), is to provide all meals to the people, make sure they do not eat anything else, and make sure they are doing the same levels of activity.  This is obviously not what the study did, so it is erroneous to say that the timing of the meals is the definite reason.

There are other issues with the study too (as with all studies), such as the fact that it was only done on overweight women age 18-45 and a small sample size of just 80 people in the UK. It therefore cannot be said that the same is necessarily true for Asians living in Singapore, for males, or for people older than this age. 80 people is also too small to consider as ground-breaking enough to change nutritional guidelines.

It also only lasted 12 weeks, so we don’t know exactly how long-term this effect might last. They also never had a ‘breakfast-heavy’ group, meaning we don’t know whether breakfast being the heaviest meal could in fact be even better. There’s even research that says having a ‘light lunch’ can help with weight loss. Bearing all these issues in mind, it is not prudent to change your diet drastically to focus solely on lunch just because of this one research study.

Ok, so lunch may not necessarily be the best to have your heaviest meal. But, why could it be better to eat more earlier in the day, than more food at night?

Our body’s metabolic rate is slightly slower at night as we are not using up energy for moving and so forth, but it is still using up energy from food and our digestive system is still working then. There may be health benefits to have the majority of your calories in daytime rather than at night. Research is still lacking for exactly why, but it may involve complex mechanisms of appetite regulation, metabolism and circadian rhythm. Our body seems to deal with calories better earlier in the day. The greatest insulin sensitivity happens early in the morning which decreases as the day goes on, which could lead to higher blood sugar levels later in the day. Our blood triglycerides (blood fats) are also higher at night, and they also remain elevated for longer in response to a meal compared to when it is eaten in the day. Moreover, avoiding a big late-night meal right before bedtime may be for practical reasons too, as it may give you a boost of energy (making it difficult to sleep) or cause reflux.

While all meals of the day are important in their own ways, research suggests a role for regular breakfast consumption in maintaining a healthy weight. Currently there isn’t enough research to recommend any strict timing for meals, cut-off time to eat or a definite proportion of calories at each meal.

Wouldn’t 600 calories for lunch cause a food coma and therefore, unproductive hours after lunch in the office?

The PopSugar article suggests to aim for 40% calories at lunch, which is around 600 calories of a typical 1,500 calorie diet for weight loss. Many Asians, especially those with a smaller frame and having a sedentary lifestyle, may actually need 1,200 or even less calories per day for weight loss. This means around 480 calories at lunch. A meal around 480-600 calories is typical of a usual hawker centre meal with balanced nutrients (e.g. mixed veg rice with 2 veg + 1 protein; or a fish slice noodle soup).

However, my personal mantra is not to follow ‘rules’ or calorie count, but instead to listen to your own body’s cues about fullness. If you are already feeling satisfied with your meal, you shouldn’t have to force yourself to eat a set amount. There is hardly any strong enough evidence to be setting an exact percentage of calories based on just one research study. Instead, this could be viewed more as a rough guideline to prevent overeating at dinner or night snacks.

A ‘food coma’ is caused by the fact that more of our blood goes to our gut when digesting our meal, leaving less blood for the rest of the body. Because of this, some people might feel a bit “light-headed” or tired. Scientists have shown that meals high in high GI (glycemic index) carbohydrates (like white rice or white bread) cause an increase in insulin in the blood. Insulin allows the entry of tryptophan (a type of amino acid) into the brain, which can make us sleepy. High-fat foods also send signals to the brains to focus our energy on digesting (rather than energy for the rest of the body). Consuming a high-protein meal, on the other hand, will cause a lot of other amino acids to enter the brain and will probably have a stimulant effect instead of drowsiness.

The important take-home message is that it’s important to have a well-balanced meal that’s not too high in fat, choose high-fibre carbs (like brown rice or wholemeal bread), include protein, vegetables and fruits in your meal, and don’t overeat (just because of a ‘rule’ that somebody suggested online without considering your individual needs), but instead listen to your own body. If you follow these guidelines, having a ‘heavier’ lunch is unlikely to cause a food coma.

Conclusion

Ultimately the total calories and overall healthfulness of your food choices have a much greater impact on your health and weight loss than the timing of your heaviest meal. Everybody has different lifestyle habits, work cycles, eating preferences, and cultural backgrounds, that may make one meal of the day slightly heavier than another, and that’s ok. It is best to stick to a healthy eating plan that you can follow for life, not one that is impractical for you. If you eat three wholesome, balanced and healthy meals, low in fat and sugar, and chockful of lean protein and fibre, it is likely to help with weight loss; regardless of how you spread out the calories. In contrast, if you eat lots of processed fast food, sugary drinks and have a high-fat, low-fibre diet, it will be hard for you to lose weight regardless of which meal you eat more calories.

Nevertheless, the American Dietetic Association states that total calorie intake should be spread throughout the day with 4-5 meals (including breakfast), and consuming more energy throughout the day may be better to more energy at evening consumption. Based on the preliminary evidence, it’s worth trying to stick to regular meals at reasonable timings and to avoid having a super heavy dinner or supper. To simplify, it is not known whether breakfast or lunch should be heaviest, but one thing is for sure, it is best not to stuff in most of your calories at night.

Contributed by Bonnie Lau, an Australian-trained Accredited Practising Dietitian. 


Photo credits: Shutterstock

References

B. Wang, R.E. Patterson, A. Ang, J.A. Emond, N. Shetty, L. Arab, Timing of energy intake during the day is associated with the risk of obesity in adults, J. Hum. Nutr. Diet. 27 (Suppl. 2) (2014) 255e262, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ jhn.12141.

D. Jakubowicz, M. Barnea, J. Wainstein, O. Froy, High caloric intake at breakfast vs. dinner differentially influences weight loss of overweight and obese women, Obesity (Silver Spring) 21 (2013) 2504e2512, http:// dx.doi.org/10.1002/oby.20460.

M. Garaulet, P. Gomez-Abellan, J.J. Alburquerque-Bejar, Y.C. Lee, J.M. Ordovas, F.A.J.L. Scheer, Timing of food intake predicts weight loss effectiveness, Int. J. Obes. 37 (2013) 604e611.

Rothschild, J., Hoddy, K. K., Jambazian, P, Varady K.A.. Time-restricted feeding and risk of metabolic disease: a review of human and
animal studies. Nutr Rev 2014 May 16;72(5):308-18.

Metabolic impacts of altering meal frequency and timing – Does when we eat matter?

Hutchison, Amy T. ; Heilbronn, Leonie K.

Biochimie, May 2016, Vol.124, pp.187-197

Nutr Res Rev. 2014 Jun; 27(1): 107–118. Physiological responses to food intake throughout the day. Jonathan D. Johnston *

H.M. Seagle, G.W. Strain, A. Makris, R.S. Reeves, American Dietetic A, Position of the American Dietetic Association: weight management, J. Am. Diet. Assoc. 109 (2009) 330e346.

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4 Healthy Eating Resolutions That Aren’t Focused on Weight Loss

When you are on the path of healthy eating, it should not just be about losing weight but rather, to be healthier and just be good to your body. After all, you only have one.

4 Healthy Eating Resolutions That Aren

Photo credits: Positive Health Wellness

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