Health Blog

Size does matter?

Do you know that if you are given a larger plate of food or a larger can drink, you would mindlessly eat more?

These days, there are so many food products from burgers to drinks with an upsized option. And clever marketing schemes would also promote that it is better for value!

For instance, if you are given a 500ml can of coconut water, you are likely to finish that can in one sitting. However, if you are only provided a 330ml can of coconut water, you would just be having that amount instead.

If you do not want to mindlessly overeat, choose a smaller package over the larger one. Likewise, choose a smaller plate over a larger one, so that the amount of food looks “more”. And, you might still feel peckish if you place the same quantity of food on a large plate.

Of course, if there is still room for seconds, you may go ahead!

Have you checked on your seniors today?

Have you heard of the ‘Tea and Toast Syndrome’? It is a form of malnutrition found in older adults. It could be resulted from an inability or lack of desire to prepare food. Especially in an aging population where we live in, it could be a great concern.

If one becomes less active while entering the golden years, lesser calories will be required as well. This might eventually lead to a lower motivation to whip up a nutritious meal. Of course, there would be other factors like poor access to economical foods, mobility and existing health conditions.  This means that one would probably turn to no-fuss, ready-to-eat foods like literally… tea and toast as an alternative.

An everyday diet of just tea and toast will result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies, that would eventually lead to malnutrition. Caregivers should always check on the elderly to get their regular nutrient-dense meals in check. When always in doubt, seek help from a qualified healthcare provider.

Mental Wellness with Good Nutrition this Festive Week

Selamat Hari Raya Puasa from all of us at Food Canopy. With the festive eating coming your way, there is bound to be anxiety, stress, and expectations when we dine with our family and loved ones. Celebrate mindful eating this festive week ahead.

Eat, but with pace. Especially when breaking fast, we tend to dig into our food with speed. Our brains are only able to register that we are full after 20 minutes. Chew and bite your food. Start with something that requires you to munch more than foods that are easily broken down.

Combat stress with good nutrition. Include a variety of fruits and vegetables as they contain vital vitamins and minerals like vitamin B group, C, calcium magnesium, and zinc which are depleted when we encounter stress on a daily basis.

Also, stay hydrated instead of caffeinated. We would be very dehydrated after a long fast and caffeine from foods like coffee, energy drinks are not going to help as it dehydrates us further.

Lastly, it is a time where we spend quality time with our loved ones. Do not avoid foods as we might crave and overindulge after. Be mindful, slow down, and do not rush. Such baby steps help us with our mental well-being as well.

Household Food Waste can be Managed Better

Yesterday was Earth Day! How did you play your part? These days, if you have realized, there is an increasing push for reducing wastage. Other than using reusable straws or paper products, do you know that we can play an important role to reduce food wastage as well?

Today, let us talk about food waste and how we can take baby steps to help the environment.

According to a study1 done between November 2016 to March 2017 of a sample size of 443 households by the National Environment Agency (NEA), food waste accounted for a whopping half of what each Singapore household throws daily! In addition, the amount of food waste that could have been avoided is a 2.5kg rice sack weekly from every household. Yikes!

Overbuying seems to be a culprit. When we buy too much and miss the expiry date, it goes down the rubbish chute. Here are some ways that you could adopt to prevent food wastage at home.  

#1. Food Portioning

Ever bought that huge bag of popcorn? And before you know it, it starts to turn soggy by repeated opening and closing. Then, poof! Off it goes right into the bin. Next time, portion them into small zip lock bags or airtight containers. Firstly, you could control how much you eat in one setting to get your health goals in check. Next, you are saving your buck from another huge bag of treats, already knowing that vicious cycle.

#2. Proper Food Storage

Dry foods remain dry and those that are meant to be chilled should be in the chiller! That way, you could be more rest assured that your food does not spoil that quickly. Note that the best before date on your food label is just a guide, use your five senses to check its freshness.

#3. Upsize? Hold On.

Consult the server on the portion sizes to determine how much to order. Do not ‘tabao in shock’. If damage is done, try sharing the dishes with your loved ones.

Let us make Earth Day, Earth Days.

1. NEA.

What you need to know about hydration

Feeling the heat? The mix of sunshine and rain would be staying around for some time in tropical island Singapore. While humidity is at its peak, we tend to sweat a lot more than usual. Water loss not only comes from sweat but also in other forms like urine.

Our body contains more than 50% of water. Our brain contains water. Our heart contains water. Our skin, muscles, kidneys, lungs and even our bones are composed of water. It is CLEARLY why staying hydrated is important.  

Here are some key reasons for you to stay hydrated:

1. Gut Health: Water is like a river in our gut. It transports not only food while it gets digested, but also waste out of our body. Having a tough time in the toilet? Maybe you would like to drink more water.

2. Those guns right there sis and bruh: Not recovering well from your last workout? Water transports nutrients for muscle recovery. It could be a lack of water.

3. Joint Lubrication: Water lubricates the joints. Hydration plays a factor in joint health.

4. Let that skin glow: Because the skin is the largest organ and it contains 70% water, you want to get that hydration flow to get supple skin.

So the big question is, how much water should I drink?


There is no one size fits all answer. Everyone has different requirements. The best way is to check your urine colour. If it is a straw pale yellow colour, you are in check. Once again, you need to listen to your body and ask a healthcare professional if you are still in doubt!

Asian Sauces and Sodium

Sauces are part and parcel of Asian cuisines. From hoisin to teriyaki, sauces light up our tastebuds – sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami. That is why, there are countless ways as flavouring agents in soups, or marinades in meats, fish as well as vegetables. However, one major stumbling block would be the heaps of salt (sodium) they contribute.

Most Asian sauces are low in fat and calories. Thus, analysing the total calories that the dish offers, does not provide a fair overall picture.

“The average Singaporean adult consumes 9 grams of salt per day, which is more than the recommended daily intake of 5 grams (this is equivalent to one teaspoon of salt)”, quoted from Health Hub, Health Promotion Board Singapore (HPB).

Other than taste, sodium plays an important role in preserving food. High salt content would mean a longer shelf life even if products are stored unrefrigerated as moisture is being drawn out. Therefore, bacteria and other little pesky microbes would not be able to survive.

Now, let us dive a little deeper into how much Asian sauces we put in our dishes. A serving size would vary from 1 teaspoon (5ml) to 1 tablespoon (20ml). According to the food analysis data provided by HPB’s Energy and Nutrient Composition of Food, 1 serve size (1 tablespoon) of light soy sauce provides a whopping 859.35mg of sodium. That is already four-fifth of a teaspoon! If we study the total calories, it is only 8.5Kcal. And not to mention, fat is negligible as well.

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Fret not, there are ways to flavour your food.

#1. Use herbs and spices
Herbs and spices not only enhance flavours but also contributes negligible sodium. If swapping out table salt or sauces completely deem impossible, reduce amounts of them and factor in herbs and spices.

#2. Do not add on more table salt
Now, we know that sauces deliver a lot of sodium content, further adding table salt is unnecessary.

#3. Read and compare food labels
If you are comfortable reading food labels, check out the nutrition information label to compare ‘per 100g’ of similar sauce products to make a more informed decision.

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#4. ‘Lower in Sodium’ Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS)
If reading food labels is a challenge, look out for the ‘Lower in Sodium’ HCS logo for a healthier alternative and easy way out!

#5. Include food ingredients that contain naturally occurring MSG
Yes, in fact, on a daily basis, foods like tomatoes, cheeses, seaweed and even the yeast that is used to bake delicious loaves of bread contain naturally occurring MSG. While MSG is shamed by the public due to old wives’ tales and myths of hair loss etc., there is no scientific evidence pertaining to that. In fact, introducing MSG could significantly reduce the need to include more table salt or sauces.

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6 Dining Out Health Hacks

These days, ‘upsizing’ has surpassed fast-food restaurants. From Japanese donburi bowls to soups where you could get an extra helping of noodles, the options are endless. “Value meals” in jumbo sizes are easy to over indulge and often, it means more sauces, cream and butter to create flavour bombs.

These are 6 suggestions that you could adopt while dining out to keep health goals in check.

#1 Avoid starters that are deep-fried or dressed in creamy sauces
Anything that is high in fat would actually keep us full. High-fat foods delay stomach emptying and therefore leaves you less space to consume what your body actually needs – essential nutrients; especially those that are from fruits and vegetables. Go for clear soups, greek yoghurt, a refreshing vegetable salad drizzled with lime or lemon dressing or a handful of mixed nuts.

#2 Vegetarian options are not always healthier
Yes, you heard us right. Tell your partner, your classmate and everyone else. Mock meat burgers to acai berry bowls are trending but, just because they are vegetarian, that does not mean they are off the hook being high in calories. Steer away from dishes that are covered in melted cheese or cooked with coconut milk, that is high in saturated “bad” fat.

#3 You do not have to forgo your dessert
Yaaaaaaas to desserts. If you are on Team Dessert, good news. There are hearty options out there like sorbets and even meringues. If you like fruits, puddings are generally fine. Of course, who would say no to rich chocolate cakes?! Share the guilty pleasure with your BFF.

#4 Tabao like a boss
Be a Karen. If you cannot finish your food, gurrll get a takeaway box. Not only you are helping the environment by reducing food wastage but also saving your pockets.

#5 Mindful eating aka take your time
Our brain takes about 20 minutes to register that we are full. Take your time to eat so that you do not overeat.

#6 Eat at Food Canopy outlets
Prefer to eat at a food court? Food Canopy outlets have not only your calories in check but also offer a wide variety of cuisines to choose from. Also, do pop by the CAN stations (health corners) for your BMI checked! Don’t say bojio.

3 Practical Tips to Swap to Wholegrains at Ease

Rice is the main staple that is deeply rooted in our culture, right in the heart of Singapore. However, often, we see refined white grains over brown, wild, red rice and other ‘wholegrains’ that you can name, which are easily found in the local supermarkets these days.

So the golden question is, “Why still choose wholegrains when it is so tough to chew?”

What is a wholegrain?
To break it down simply, a WHOLE grain as the name suggests, comprises of the entire seed of the plant – whereby the bran, germ, and endosperm are intact. On the other hand, white rice has been polished where the germ and bran are removed.  Compared with unenriched white rice, wholegrains have more nutrients – including dietary fibre, protein, B-group vitamins, iron, magnesium as well as copper, that are mostly being stripped during the milling process of the grain.

What does science say?
According to evidence-based studies1, switching to wholegrains can improve total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, blood sugar control and inflammation. Also, in a recent large study of almost 200,000 adults from the United States that took place over 30 years, those who frequently included wholegrains in their diets are found that they are of lower risk in developing type 2 diabetes, compared with those who rarely did so2.

How do we Singapore fare?
According to the National Health Population Survey 2019, the proportions of Singaporeans with self-reported chronic diseases continued to rise gradually. For instance, the self-reported type 2 diabetes percentage grew from 4.9% in 2007 to 6.9% in 2019. Also, it is well noted that the prevalence of chronic diseases related to poor intake of wholegrain foods in Singaporean adults (18 to 64 years old) rose for type 2 diabetes and obesity from 1998 to 20103.

So, what can I do to accept the taste and texture of wholegrains?

#1. Introduce small amounts over time
Remember that any change should be gradual. The sudden switch from refined grains to wholegrain rice might be frowned upon. Saying so, we are aiming for gradual acceptance and adaptability. Try replacing 10% of white rice to brown rice and additional 10% after a couple of weeks, repeat! Before you have realised, you might be so used to brown rice in a long run.

#2. Barley and corn are wholegrains too
Especially in Southeast Asia, when we think of grains, rice will probably just come to mind. Readily available food ingredients like barley and corn are actually wholegrains as well. Yes, the bran, germ, and endosperm are all still intact! Incorporating both barley and corn into a mixture of brown and white rice would provide some crunch, sweetness and colour that even kids might be open to it.  

#3. Pair wholegrains with pulses and dried figs
Like barley and corn, mixing beans like adzuki beans (Japanese red beans), mung beans and even dried figs would not only add flavour but also increasing the profile of protein, dietary fibre and calcium content from the figs!

What if I choose to eat out?
Look out for Food Canopy outlets in your area where wholegrain options are available. Alternatively, pick an eatery that participates in the Health Promotion Board’s Healthier Dining Programme. At these outlets, there are higher in wholegrains options to choose from.


  1. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2020 Nov;120(11):1859-1883.e31. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2020.06.021. (Marshall S et al.)
  2. BMJ. 2020 Jul 8;370:m2206. doi: 10.1136/bmj.m2206. (Hu Y et al.)
  3. Neo, J. E., & Brownlee, I. A. (2017). Wholegrain food acceptance in young Singaporean adults. Nutrients9(4), 371.

Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean diet is a type of healthy eating styles which originate from Mediterranean countries traditional foods such as Italy, France, Greece and Spain. Mediterranean diet does not have a specific guideline but it is usually high in beans, fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, cereals, unsaturated fats foods and fish while low in dairy foods and meat.

Ingredients to include in your Mediterranean meal plan:

  • Wholegrain pasta/ bread, brown rice, whole wheat/ oats and barley
  • Cucumbers, cauliflower, spinach, onions, carrots, broccoli and tomatoes
  • Clams, prawn, sardines, salmon, mackerel, mussels and tuna
  • Pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts and hazelnuts
  • Dates, peaches, bananas, grapes, oranges, apples, strawberries and pears
  • Chickpeas, beans, peas and peanuts
  • Yams, sweet potatoes and potatoes
  • Chicken, turkey and duck
  • Avocados oil and olive oil
  • Greek yoghurt and cheese

Health benefits from having Mediterranean diet:

  • Reduce the risk of heart diseases
  • Better sleep quality
  • Effective weight management
  • Lower risk of diabetes

Reference: 2021. What is a Mediterranean diet?. [online] Available at: <’s%20high,health%2C%20including%20a%20healthier%20heart>

Better health start with Vitamin E

Vitamin E helps to promote better vision and it’s antioxidant characteristics protect your body against free radicals which can cause several major health issues like cancer, nervous system diseases and heart diseases. If you are having a balanced diet, your body will have a sufficient amount of vitamin E that is needed.

Foods rich in vitamin E:

  • Nuts & seeds: almonds, sunflower seeds, peanuts and hazelnuts
  • Vegetable cooking oils: sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, olive oil, and corn oil
  • Fruits: avocado, kiwi and blueberries
  • Vitamin E fortified foods: cereals
  • Vegetables: butternut squash, spinach, broccoli and tomatoes

Do you know?

Based on US Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), the recommended daily intake of vitamin E for normal adult age above 19-year-old is 15 mg (equivalence to 55g of sunflower seeds) for both male and female.

Side effects of vitamin E overdose:

The maximum daily intake of vitamin E should be capped at 1,000mg for adults age above 19-years-old, any vitamin E intake more than these will lead to the following side effects:

  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Skin rashes
  • Weaker vision
  • Headache
  • Cramps around intestinal
  • Diarrhoea
  • Increased risk of prostate cancer

Therefore, it is best that you obtain vitamin E from natural foods and do seek medical advice from health professionals before you start taking any vitamin E supplement.

Reference: Mayo Clinic. 2021. Vitamin E. [online] Available at: 2021. Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin E. [online] Available at: