‘Siomai,’ popcorn, French fries–how to eat mall foods without the guilt
Are you trying to manage your weight but don’t want to feel deprived, especially when you go malling on weekends?
If you don’t have medical concerns that may limit you from eating salty and fatty fare, why, yes, you can still eat such foods, but you should know what you are eating, what these foods are made of and how much you can eat, so you can still achieve your health goals.
Here are some ways to avoid overindulging in mall food:
Always bring water and healthy snacks in your bag like multigrain crackers, 100-calorie snack packs and bars, and wheat bread or peanut butter sandwich.
Always eat on time. Eat breakfast and complete meals during lunch and dinner, such as brown rice with grilled or roasted chicken and veggies.
Know your calorie needs for the day to budget calories for mall foods. An average woman trying to manage her weight usually consumes between 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day.
Here are some things you should know about mall foods/food carts, and strategies to help you eat such foods without the guilt, while still keeping yourself and your program on track.
Per serving (four pieces with condiments): steamed—300 to 400 calories; fried—450 to 600 calories
A piece of steamed pork siomai may contain 70 to 80 calories per piece; a typical serving contains four pieces with extra soy sauce and chili oil. The siomai has pork and pork fat; even if they call it “pork and shrimp siomai,” the food product is still mostly pork and fat.
Choose steamed over fried siomai to save calories from oil. Limit consumption of soy sauce and chili oil to avoid too much sodium and calories from fat.
The calorie content of the whole serving is almost equivalent to a full meal, so you might want to share the half with someone, or just finish two to three pieces if you consider this your snack. If you think you lack protein intake for the day, consider other alternatives such as a small serving of taho with less syrup, or plain frozen yogurt.
If you can choose your dumplings in restaurants or mall food stalls, then settle for steamed shrimp (hakaw) and chicken instead of pork, because these do not contain pork fat as extenders.
Most dumpling food carts serve gulaman, which contains mostly sugar or an additional 100 calories (about 2 tbsp of sugar per standard glass). Skip the gulaman and just buy or bring your own water.
Per serving (three pieces with toppings): 180 to 200 calories (with mayonnaise)
Takoyaki pieces that you can buy from food carts are made of flour, vegetables and chicken, pork or beef floss. This carbo snack can be high in fat calories if you put mayonnaise on them.
Avoid the mayonnaise if you can; this should save you up to 50 calories.
Lessen sodium intake by requesting the vendor to put less takoyaki sauce and floss.
Try other low-fat and low-sodium carbo snacks like corn on a cob and/or corn kernels on a cup. A piece of corn with little butter contains an average of 120 calories. When you buy corn kernels, skip the cheese powder and request for less butter.
Per serving (one cup): average of 50 to 60 calories
Usually a small bag contains six cups of popcorn—equivalent to 300 to 360 calories.
This mall food should be eaten after a real meal to avoid the temptation to finish the whole bag or order a bigger size. Practice sharing even the smallest popcorn bag with someone, especially if you get the buttered and flavored varieties.
Choose plain salted popcorn to avoid extra calories from butter and sodium from cheese, sour cream or barbecue powders.
If you crave for popcorn, make an effort to prepare your own plain popcorn. Get the unpopped ones from the supermarket.
Per regular fast food serving: average of 250 to 300 calories per container
Fast food French fries may contain five to 10 calories per piece, and calories usually come from carbs (potato) and fat (oil).
Eating a standard-size cheeseburger with fries just doubles your carbohydrate and fat consumption. But if you still crave for fries, practice counting and eating 10 pieces or less (an extra 50 to 100 calories just to satisfy you cravings).
Avoid powdered flavorings as add-ons to avoid too much sodium.
Do not make a habit of consuming a whole serving of fries as your snack or meal; this contains too much sodium and saturated fat. Aside from weight gain, too much consumption of French fries may lead to health problems such as cancer and diabetes.
Per 250ml/glass serving: average of 300 to 500 calories per glass container
The total calories you can get from a glass of this popular regular milk tea is almost equivalent to one or two standard chocolate bars.
Go for nonfat milk teas and avoid add-ons like sago to cut the total calories by half. Avoid high-sugar powdered drinks.
Vary your mall drinks. Choose fresh fruit shakes, but ask not to put syrup and full cream milk, because these may double the total calorie content.
Try coconut water or buko juice, usually available now in fruit shake stands. This refreshing drink contains only 60 to 80 calories per glass, is low in sugar and rich in health benefits.
E-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow her on twitter @mitchfelipe