Jan 09, 2014

    Just small changes needed for a healthier lifestyle

    SINGAPORE is known to be a food paradise and Singaporeans are also known to be passionate about what they eat. We often hear of snaking queues at popular food outlets and spirited discussions on where one can get the best hawker food.

    Indeed, lifestyles have changed. We are eating out more to suit our busy schedules, to socialise and to celebrate special occasions, especially in the festive season. Or if we eat at home, we want fuss-free recipes to help us whip up a quick meal.

    Last month, I visited the Persatuan Pemudi Islam Singapura Centre (West) for the launch of the Malay Health Calendar.

    A meaningful initiative of the Women's Health Advisory Committee, the Calendar contains healthier versions of recipes of popular Malay dishes like sayur lodeh and nasi lemak, as well as useful health tips.

    I hope to see more such initiatives, like the healthier recipes in the Calendar, because healthy eating does not mean compromising on taste or convenience, and healthier options do not necessarily have to be more expensive.

    For example, 500-calorie meal options were introduced at the Mapletree Business City (MBC), which is our first healthy-workplace ecosystem. Roti prata and kaya toast - both equally dear to the hearts and popular with the palates of Singaporeans - are available in wholemeal versions in MBC too.

    Just making small changes in our daily lives - like choosing healthier meals with more fruit, vegetables and whole grains, or substituting ingredients with healthier alternatives, and cutting down on sauces - is one way to keep us on track to a healthier diet.

    We should also remember to be mindful of the size of our food portions. This is an important part of the healthy-living journey, besides exercising regularly.

    However, it is not always easy to adopt a healthy lifestyle on your own. Habits are difficult to change. Tapping on peer support and encouragement is one way we can overcome that.

    Your loved ones can give you that additional push. For instance, you can have an exercise buddy to work out with. Ask your company's human-resource department if there are exercise classes. You can also initiate a running group or other interest group with your colleagues and neighbours.

    A physically and socially active lifestyle can keep you alert, energetic and positive. Together with your family, friends and the community, you can be more motivated to maintain a healthy lifestyle anywhere and everywhere.

    As chairman of the Healthy Living Master Plan Task Force, I am glad to note that the Ministry of Health and Health Promotion Board are working closely to strengthen connections with fellow government agencies, the community and individuals, to make healthy living effortless and natural for all.

    It is our vision that every Singaporean will be healthier. A healthier life is a happier one too. So here's to a healthier, happier and more active 2014!


    Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim is Parliamentary Secretary at the ministries of Health and Transport.