No doubt you have been told by many well-meaning friends and family “You have diabetes, cut out the rice!” or something along those lines. So is this necessary? Or is it possible to play nice with rice?
Rice is a central player in the Singaporean diet and in other Asian cuisines. There are so many different varieties and I am sure you can think of many of your favourite dishes that involve this essential staple. Indeed, rice adds a base to which you can add flavour, colour, texture, spice and all things nice such as vegetables, meat, poultry, fish or legumes.
However, in recent times, it has developed a bad reputation due to its high carbohydrate load and low fibre content. When you think about it, eating a large meal of rice and then going and sitting at your desk for the rest of the day is very different to when people ate the same meal back in the day but had very active lifestyles. There is no doubt that on a daily basis we are eating more food than we need to match our energy needs, rice included! We are also moving very little! In fact approximately 54% of surveyed Singaporeans did not participate in any form of sports/exercise at all in the past three months.
Do not despair, the solution is not to cut out rice completely. Instead you need to start to get choosy when it comes to the type and amount you eat.
Here are 4 tips to make sure you can continue enjoying your rice:
- Eat in smaller amounts, rice should only take up 1/4 of your plate. Fill up the other 1/4 with a lean protein and 1/2 with a rainbow of vegetables. Vegetables help to fill you up and boost your fibre intake.
- Aim for 1/2 cup of cooked rice (75-120g) or less at main meals. When in doubt, a serving should be the size of your fist.
- White rice has had its bran layer polished off. This means it is lower in fibre and vitamins than brown rice. Choose brown rice or lower GI varieties like basmati. The following healthier choices are examples you can find in your local Singaporean supermarkets such as Fairprice.
- Lower the GI of your rice meal by adding low GI legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans or nuts and seeds to your meals.
For starters, try to increase the amount of veggies and lean protein on your plate. Eat those first and remember to eat slowly and stop eating when you are satisfied.
You can also ask for less rice when ordering from Hawker Centres or when eating out. Try to start thinking of rice as a great side rather than the whole meal.
An essential piece of the puzzle when improving your nutrition is eating food in the right amounts. This is a step in the RICE direction to better blood glucose control.