What to eat as a diabetic in Singapore
Singapore is renowned for its cuisine internationally. There is a fantastic eating culture in Singapore and the range of foods from China, India, Malaysia and Indonesia is incredible. It’s one of real the pleasures that many visitors to the country enjoy and Singapore had a deserved reputation for its food.
But, what if you are living in Singapore with diabetes? The range of food available in the city provides daily temptation in the form of hawker centres, food stalls and restaurants. For diabetics, this can be a minefield. Here is a list of the foods that I have learned to avoid and the food which I have kept in my Singaporean diabetic diet.
Foods I avoid:
There are so many local dishes full of carbohydrate and sugar. Here are just a few dishes you might pick up at the hawker in Singapore which will send your blood sugar to the Moon and perhaps in the case of Mee Siam to Mars:
Chendol (green jelly, red bean and pandan jelly with sweetened coconut milk) – one bowl contains about 9 teaspoons of sugar.
Fried Bee Hoon – Fried Vermicelli with fried luncheon meant – about 30g of carbohydrate and plenty of sugar.
Black carrot cake – Fried radish with egg and sweet sauce – around 6 teaspoons of sugar
Mee Goreng – Yellow noodle with vegetables, egg, with tomato and chilli sauce – 40g or more of carbohydrate
Chicken rice – Roasted chicken with skin, rice and chili sauce – about 55 grams of carbohydrate.
Mee Siam – Thin white noodles, hard-boiled egg, beancurd in gravy. So tasty, but this comes in at an enormous 92g of carbohydrate! I would need almost twenty units of insulin for this! This is the highest food in carbohydrate I have ever found, so congratulations to Mee Siam!
Char Kway Teow – Rice noodles fried with cockles, Chinese sausage. 76 grams of carbohydrate! – that’s the equivalent of eating about four McDonald’s Big Macs! (20g carbs each). Incidentally, I am not suggesting that you do.
Kaya Toast and soft boiled egg – A traditional breakfast, but unfortunately the white bread is not suitable for diabetics. The soft boiled eggs on the other hand are a great choice!
Laksa – I love curry laksa, but the noodles are a problem in relation to the carbohydrate content – although I have recently found a solution (see below).
Foods I enjoy (a lot!)
Luckily there are still many options for diabetics in Singapore – if they chose carefully. I have listed a few examples below of foods that can be enjoyed.
Bak kut teh with no noodles. Pork bone tea if eaten without noodles is a very low carbohydrate option.
Yung Tao Foo – One of my favourites. I have this with no noodles and the curry sauce. If you choose the ingredients carefully from the food stall, this can be a great choice.
Laksa made with Japanese Shirataki noodles. I make this at home. Shirataki noodles contain no carbohydrate and can be easily found in Singapore. They work very well in a laksa. They can also be used in many other Singaporean noodle dishes. They come in a pack with liquid and should be drained and boiled for one minute before using.
Fish head curry – A real Singapoean/Indian specialty and a great choice as long as you avoid too much rice and bread to accompany it. There are also many other Indian dishes such as paneer (cheese), which can be enjoyed.
Black/chilli pepper crab – I prefer the black pepper crab and it remains one of my favourite Singaporean dishes. My kids love it too! I usually order some broccoli and garlic to go with it. My favourite place to have this is Jumbo Seafood at the East Coast.
Oyster Omellete – without the potato starch. It’s best to find a place that can eliminated the starch from the cooking of the eggs.
Satay – This is fine for diabetics.
BBQ Sambal Stingray/Ikan Bakar – Usually served on a banana leaf – this is a great dish to eat and your blood sugar should not suffer at all!
So it is clear that there is plenty to eat and I am sure I have only scratched the surface of what is available in Singapore. There are also plenty of other cuisines that I have not even mentioned – Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian and of course Western as well. There is so much choice in Singapore. The best approach is to ensure that if you are unsure of whether you can eat a food to test your blood sugar and see what happens. That’s the only way for a diabetic to understand the right foods to eat.