Eating hawker centre foods the healthy way Eating hawker centre foods the healthy way
The hawker centre, the food court; these are places that every weight watcher would want to avoid when they are on a diet. Why? Because... Eating hawker centre foods the healthy way

The hawker centre, the food court; these are places that every weight watcher would want to avoid when they are on a diet.

Why? Because it is filled with all the good, delicious, and yummy fat-laden food. Char Kuey Teow, Chicken Rice, Nasi Lemak, Koka noodles, Hokkien Mee, Laska; Your mouth waters just thinking about it.


When you are trying to watch your weight, you often head to shops that sell sandwiches, salads, wraps, and healthy box lunches. However, eating them for weeks can make you feel a little “sian”. (Sian = a concise Hokkien adjective for boredom, weariness, frustration, and emptiness)

That is right. You will feel empty, and slowly, start to crave for all the foods from the hawker centre. How can anyone resist that Soya Sauce Chicken from Chinatown – the cheapest Michelin star meal in the world?

We at HealthLoco understand that temptation, so we have come out with this “healthier way” guide to have those chicken rice and noodles on your “cheat days”.

1. Chicken Rice

chicken rice

Chicken rice is one of the dishes that can be found almost anywhere in Singapore and Malaysia, from hawker stalls, to shopping malls, to that “Kopitiam” across your house. It is tasty and priced reasonably, making it the most popular daily food choice among travellers and local citizens.

Travellers would probably wonder what the hype is all about. It is just a plate of chicken served with rice, some vegetables at the side, and a clear soup broth. It is just chicken… and rice.

But, chicken rice is actually very tasty, AND also high in fat, AND high in calories as well. A plate of chicken rice has about 666 calories and 44g of fat (an average person should only eat 30g of fat per day) Therefore, chicken rice is not only bad for your waistline, but also for your cholesterol levels.

HealthLoco Tip:

Remove the skin

The chicken skin contains a lot of fat and oil, and therefore it is probably a good idea to remove the skin and focus on the meat instead.

Choose white rice instead of chicken rice

Delicious as it may be, most chicken rice is cooked with chicken fat to give it that aroma. Choosing white rice instead would help to lessen the fat intake.

If white rice is not available, eat only half portion of the rice.

Eat more vegetables

You can fill yourself with vegetables and greens. Do not ignore the cucumbers and the steamed vegetables. They contain dietary fibre which is good for your digestive track.

2. Economical Rice

economic rice

Photo: B-kyu

For economical rice, you often pick your own sides of vegetables and meat. To make your meal healthier, choose dishes like steamed fish, steamed vegetables, minced pork, braised duck, hard boiled eggs, and tofu.

HealthLoco Tip:

economic rice healthy

Choose brown rice

For a healthier alternative, choose brown rice instead of white rice. Brown rice is high in fibre and high in antioxidants. It can help with fighting the free radicals which you come in contact with daily, and the fibre helps with your digestion which can aid weight loss.

Pick lightly steamed dishes

Do not go for the fried stuff. Instead, go for the foods that are lightly steamed such as steamed vegetables, steamed fish, or steamed eggs.

3. Yong Tau Foo

yong tau foo

Photo: Sgopenrice

This Hakka dish is almost similar to economical rice – you build your own bowl by hand picking assorted vegetables and tofu items stuffed with fish paste or ground meat mixture.

HealthLoco Tip:

Photo: Sgopenrice

Do not drink the soup

When ordering yong tau foo, you can choose it to be dry or with soup. When you choose to have the soup, try not to drink the soup as it usually contains MSG and a lot of sodium.

Separate the sauce 

When ordering it to be dry, ask the sweet sauce and the chilli sauce to be placed separately. That way, you can control how much sweet and spicy sauce you take and enjoy it sparingly.

Avoid frying your ingredients

Avoid frying your ingredients, and ask the stall holders to boil them instead. It is much healthier to boil them instead of frying them in oil.

4. Western food

HealthLoco Tip:

western food healthy

Photo: Burpple

Ditch the fries

When you order your steak, your chicken chop, you get to choose your side dishes. Most of the time, you would go for the potato, the cheesy fries, the calamari rings, and the onion rings.

Ditch them.

Choose salads and veggies as your sides

Instead of your fries and mashed potato, opt for the healthier garden salad, the sweet corn, or baked beans.

Choose not to have gravy sauce

The gravy that goes on to your steak and chicken is made from starch and fat from meat, which is considered unhealthy. If you must have gravy on your meat, choose to have less gravy.

5. Handmade noodles (“Ban Mian”)

Chinese handmade noodles (“Ban Mian”) are gradually assimilating into our list of local foods.

HealthLoco Tip:

handmade noodles healthy

Photo: Sethlui

Ask for more veggies

Yes, you can ask for more vegetables. Just add extra money. Or just use your puppy eyes.

Choose to add mushroom to your meal

Adding mushrooms to your noodles can increase the nutritional value of your meal.

Vickie Ng

Vickie Ng

Vickie is a day dreamer and someone who is passionate about the world of words. The odd one in her family and amongst her group of friends. Her minds often wander elsewhere, usually thinking of interesting and unusual things. She also has an addiction for travel and craves for it 100% of the time.

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