Singapore hawker foods to avoid if you're on a diet (and what you can eat instead)
Hawker foods aren’t always loaded with calories
Keeping in mind that McSpicy is 528 calories, hawker dishes like seafood fried rice (907 cal) and char kway teow (744 cal) give a bad rep to all the other hawker dishes out there.
Many people think you need to stay away from hawker foods to lose weight. But nope, there are quite a number of options that you can eat without worrying about your diet.
We’ve picked hawker dishes that range from around 300 – 450 calories each for those gunning to hit your calorie deficit goals. But keep in mind that a low-calorie diet doesn’t always equate to a healthy lifestyle, and it’s perfectly fine to indulge on occasion.
For hawker delights that could help you achieve your weight loss goals, read on.
Mee goreng is such a great comfort food, with starchy spicy noodles, sliced fish cake, and the occasional bit of stir-fried greens for small bursts of freshness. It’s perhaps only marginally better than instant noodles and packs 613 calories.
Economic beehoon can be a calorie bomb too, but if you opt for just plain fried beehoon (294 calories) and only throw in a fried chicken wing (163 cal), it’s a total of 457, saving you 157 calories.
3) Dry fishball noodles instead of fishball noodle soup
Surprisingly, dry fishball noodles (474 cal) have less calories than when served in soup (with thick yellow noodles) at 523 calories. It’s good news for those who prefer their noodles dry as they can save on about 50 calories easily this way.
Ask for no lard if you wanna trim down on the fat and calories even more.
Prata looks innocent. It’s so flat and thin you’d almost think it’d have around the same number of calories as buttered toast, but no. One prata is 164 calories. Got a plain one and an egg prata? It’s 481 calories, and that’s not even including the curry.
A better option is prata’s cousin, thosai or dosa (97 cal), which is made from a batter of various fermented pulses and rice flour. It has a crepe-like consistency and is great with some coconut chutney (86 cal). If you think it’s not filling enough, get the masala thosai (362 cal) which is stuffed with potatoes. This way you save around 119 – 298 calories.
Sure, economy rice can be great for dieting, especially if you steer clear of the deep fried items, and order vegetables and steamed options. But we found that you can slash the calories even more with some wholesome porridge.
Porridge usually ranges from 200 – 400 calories per bowl. Chicken porridge is 181 calories while pork and peanut porridge has 398 calories.
It’s really filling too. But if you think you’ll still be hungry, consider adding an egg, which is a nutrient powerhouse of high-quality protein, vitamins and healthy fats.
7) Ice grass jelly instead of chendol or ice kachang
We’re sure you’re not surprised to hear that traditional desserts like chendol (386 cal) and ice kachang (256 cal) are full of sugar and fat that make you gain weight faster.
Well, it’s hard to avoid them completely especially when the craving hits, but you can swap them with ice grass jelly (121 cal) or ice jelly cocktail (152 cal) to cut back on around 104 – 264 calories.
Hankering for chicken cutlet or pork chop at your closest western food stall?
Get chicken, mutton, or duck soup (all under 390 cal), or maybe some bak kut teh (323 cal). It may not hit the spot 100%, especially if you’re craving for grilled or roasted meats, but it’s a good compromise for those on a diet.
Depending on the ingredients, claypot rice can contain anywhere from 500 to a whopping 896 calories and plenty of sodium.
For an alternative your waistline will thank you for, consider thunder tea rice (check out this recipe to make it at home) instead. Low in fat and high in fiber, this Hakka dish has surged in popularity with more hawker centres and neighbourhood coffee shops offering it.
You can opt for white or brown rice (brown rice has a lower glycemic index), which is topped with stir-fried chopped veggies, cubed tau kwa, ikan bilis, toasted peanuts, and accompanied by a broth made from green tea and a blend of herbs.
Ask for less deep fried ikan bilis to shave off more calories and keep your calorie count under 450.
Photo: Tung Pek Lean/123rf
10) Sliced instead of fried fish beehoon soup
When it comes to soup-based dishes, a clear broth often contains less fat and calories. Case in point: Fish beehoon soup.
The addition of fried fish slices and evaporated milk places this otherwise healthy dish alongside other calorie-dense dishes like chicken rice – it has up to 730 calories per bowl. Ask for steamed fish slices and forgo the milk, and it’s only about 349 calories.
Don’t slurp up all the soup though – it’s still laden with sodium.