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Healthy Eating For Men
Finding time to eat right is often a challenge for Singaporean men. No time for breakfast; Business lunches, Entertaining clients in the evening or working late; all make it difficut to eat right. The 1993 Food Consumption Study showed that 84% of men are eat out at lunch daily and the majority (76%) eat at hawkers' centers or workplace canteens, 53% eat out at breakfast and 28% eat out at dinner. What are some of the issues with eating on the run and what can you do to make sure that you are eating right? Read on.
Your body is just like your car -- you have to give it the right fuel for it to perform well. Just as your car performs better with premium gas, your body performs best with certain foods. Your body needs carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals -- but all in the right balance.
Fuel your body with carbohydrates
Our best source of fuel is carbohydrates. Carbohydrate is what the body uses for energy. It is stored in two forms: as glycogen in our muscles and liver for a quick energy source, and the excess carbohydrate are stored as fat in the rest of the body. Aim for 60 to 65 percent of your diet from carbohydrates, that is 6 to 10 servings of items like steamed rice, noodles, bread, pasta, buns, pau, biscuits, chapati, cereals, etc. Have mostly complex carbohydrate such as those listed above instead of simple carbohydrate like sugar, honey, syrup, soft drinks, cakes, and desserts, etc.
Pump up with protein
Protein is the building block of muscle and blood. You do not need a lot of it -- only about 6 - 9 ounces per day--but make what you take count. The best sources of protein are lean meat, fish, poultry, dried beans & lentils, tofu, low-fat dairy products (milk, yoghurt, cheese), and eggs. If you are body building, you only need an extra 3-5 ounces per day which is another glass of milk! The main source for body building is carbohydrate, not protein. So do not feel like you have to eat large amounts of meat nor take protein supplements. Whatever protein that is not utilized by the body is stored as fat. Also excess protein is broken down and passed out in the urine; this places an additional load on your kidneys.
Fat make you fat
Fat packs more than twice as many calories as protein or carbohydrate gram for gram (9 for fat versus 4 calories per gram of protein or carbohydrate). Some fat is essential for good health--but most people eat three to four times more than they need. If you are eat out or cook with oil or eat meat and coconut-based products, you are probably getting more than enough fat. In fact you have to be careful about cutting back on the high-fat items in your diet, for example crispy fried foods, curry gravies, fat & skin on meat, potato crisps, etc.
Tips for better nutrition
  • Follow the Healthy Diet Pyramid guidelines.
  • Choose steamed rice over fried rice.
  • Go for noodles in soup over fried noodles more often.
  • Include a serving of vegetable at every meal.
  • Have a piece of fruit after each meal or as a snack.
  • Avoid the peanut & other snacks served as appetizers in restaurants.
  • If you are having a big meal later, have a lighter lunch.
  • Have all-you-can-eat buffets only occasionally.
  • Drink in moderation if you entertain often (alcohol pack a whopping 150 calories per can of beer, 100-120 calories per shot of whiskey, another 150 calories for a can of soft drink)
  • Drink six to eight glasses of water each day.
Did You Know That...
  • A man in his 50s who exercises regularly has more energy and a better sex life, and can work longer hours than someone who doesn't?
  • Five of the ten leading causes of death and disease are directly associated with diet?
  • Two-thirds of all American CEOs exercise at least three times a week?
Source: American Dietetic Association (ADA) brochure "Food Strategies for Men," 1991
Make time for exercise
You cannot afford not to. Your health depends on it. Set aside time 2 - 3 times per week either in the morning before work, during lunch or after work to do an activity for at least 30 minutes. You can jog, swim, play badminton, join a health club, or whatever works for you. In addition, increase your daily activity such as walking more (park your car further away, take the stairs, leave 5 minutes earlier so that you can get off a stop earlier & walk). Little things do add up. Increasing physical activity stokes the metabolic fire so calories burn faster and helps keep your weight down!
Looking for answers
Here are some questions men often ask registered dietitians (RD).

1. How do I know if my weight is healthy?
Start by using the BMI (Body Mass Index) calculator to find out if you are within a healthy weight range. Being over or underweight is associated with health problems. Excess weight increases your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure. Being underweight has been linked to heart problems, lowered resistance to infection, chronic fatigue, depression, and other illnesses. A "spare tire" or excess accumulations of body fat, particularly in the stomach area, have been linked to increased risks of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Make changes to gradually decrease or increase your weight.

2. What can I do to lower my blood cholesterol?
Cholesterol is essential for life to make strong cell membranes and hormones. The body manufactures about 1,000 mg of cholesterol daily. Too much cholesterol can cause fatty plaques on arterial walls which narrows the artery. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. The build-up of fat on the vessel walls can occlude and in some case totally block the flow of blood to important organs like the heart and brain. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found only in animal products. The highest sources of cholesterol come from organ meats (example: liver, kidney, brain, heart, tripe) and eggs, but other common sources are any type of meat, poultry, cheese, and butterfat. Singaporean men generally consume 300 to 420 milligrams of cholesterol a day; the highest level is in Malay men at 424 mg per day *. The recommended amount is no more than 300 mg per day for the average person. To lower your blood cholesterol levels, firstly follow your physician's advice for prescribed treatment. Other interventions include not just cutting back on high cholesterol foods, but also the total amount of fat you eat AND increasing your level of physical activity.
* Source: The Diet of Singaporeans, Ministry of Health 1997
3. Can you give me some tips for eating out?
Check out the Dining Out section for Tips on dining out as well as look up the Local Foods and Fast Food tables to learn how much fat, calories & sodium is in your favourite meals.
4. Do I really need to be physically active?
Did you know that a physically active man has more energy and can work longer hours than one who is sedentary? Think of physical activity as doing preventive body maintenance to keep you from becoming overweight and to provide protection from heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Before you get started, get a physical exam from a physician, especially if you are over 40, overweight or have heart, circulation, joint, or bone problems. Find a variety of activities you like, then start slowly. Begin with moderate physical activity, such as walking --every bit helps. If you lack motivation, find a partner or a group program that meets regularly. Take time to see how far you've come. Do you feel more energized? Are you less stressed?

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