healthy foods
what is, aND ARE WE
'eating right'?

In my culture if I would to say eat more healthy foods y'all, perhaps I may lose some friends. And 'eating right' to many is like....

penang char kuay teow

nasi padang
credit: terence ong via burppler

roti canai
credit: robert m. via foursquare

Value Meal
credit: McDonald's

Tiger Milk Bubble Tea
credit: bontea cafe

Value Meal
credit: KFC

Some people live to eat, while some - eat to live. 

Just for writing this page, I Googled 'how to eat right', and it returned 1.2 billion search results. Sieving through the 'top' websites, I have compiled to best ability what healthy foods diet should include, that is:

1. Eating more vegetables and fruits / plant foods* 
2. Incorporating wholegrain foods*
3. Consuming a variety of protein foods*
4. Limiting highly and ultra-processed foods
5. Making water our drink of choice
*Eating a variety in moderation

And the experts encourage:
- Preparing most meals at home using natural and wholesome foods
- Having a healthy eating meal plan
- Using recipes with plenty of vegetables and fruits
- Avoiding sugary drinks (and the 'bad' fats, carbs and oils)
- Eating at least three meals a day (smaller portions) with healthy snacks in between
- Not to skip breakfast
- Count nutrients, instead of calories
- Adding more probiotic foods to our diet

With a healthy foods diet, the goal is to achieve the following:
- Promoting an overall better well-being
- Providing us the energy levels to perform better and to excel at work and play
- Achieving youthful and radiant skin glow
- Allowing us to lose weight and/or have better weight management (yes, healthy weight loss is through eating healthy!)
- Prevention of health diseases / critical illnesses

Surely, many are already well aware of the above knowledge. But f
or whatever their personal reasons, it seems as though it is always 'easier' to continue with existing eating habits that deviate from the above.

The usual responses are: I hate greens and fruits, greens taste awful/ are tasteless, I don't need such diet as I still feel strong and healthy, I have no time to cook, I am too busy working - take away saves me time, fast food tastes better, unhealthy foods comfort me and the 'negative' list goes on. Usually for such people, they take their health for granted as they still feel fine with none or little health issues. 

Because of my broken health, I have tried adopting many of the above as a 'general guide'. However, it took me over 2 decades and only recently, to finally discover that I have still been eating 'wrong'. In the past while trying to seek answers on how to eat right, my challenge was always identifying how 'much' was right for my physical size.

I never weighed my foods and counted calories my entire life. So when information was 'presented' in grams and calories, I struggled with the whole, the size of the whole (i.e. portion), and parts of the whole for my 'right' plate. The different school of thoughts did not make it easier for learning to eat right noobs like me.

healthy foods


I found one article that seems relevant: What science says about the best way to eat (and what we're still figuring out)

While different school of thoughts can take their time debating; I start to suspect why some folks can take a whole lot of unhealthy foods and their health markers remain sterling for years, while some on healthy foods diet could display unhealthy markers. Based on the science of nutritional immunology, the answer lies in their immune systems.

I believe some people are born with a tad better quality DNA where their body cells repair, detox and re-generate more effectively compared to an 'average' person. I say this as I witness a friend of mine who works 'hazardous' shift hours for almost 18 years, hardly ate a healthy foods diet nor took any medications in his entire life, ate at irregular hours and had even skipped many meals. On the contrary, his work attendance record is sterling with zero medical certificate for those 18 years.

Not until towards the end of 2020, his body started showing a red alert on the cholesterol marker! It's one of the signs his immune system has finally taken it's toll. He was devastated of course, and at that point it hit him hard to finally realise he took his health for granted for a long time.

For 13 years, my TSH indicator has stubbornly stayed in the red zone. Because of my broken health and desperately wanting to 'fix' my daily low energy levels, I engaged a nutritionist at the end of June-2020 who customises plant-based wholefood meal plans. I did not set any expectations. At the same time, I also ran out of vitamins supplement which I never replenished (as I started having a 'sick feeling' after each time I popped them in).

5 months later, I visited my endocrinologist for my hyperthyroid follow up. I was both shocked and surprised that for the first time after 13 years my TSH reading saw a significant jump into the healthy range!  It was at that point I started to believe that adding more plant-based foods is after all,  good for my body. I was still on minimal propylthiourical medication, and I achieved an even better positive results without my vitamin / supplement pills for 8 months. Wow. 

My friend, seeing some positive changes in me (one of it was my skin) decided to change to healthy eating habits in hope to reverse his elevated cholesterol condition. Monkey see monkey do, and listening to what I did; he adopted healthy foods and juicing in his diet, and brought down his total cholesterol reading from 6.37 to 5.89 in 5 months (with ZERO exercise, due to a bad back injury). As a 'short term test', he defied his doctor's order to go on cholesterol medication. He is still persevering, and determines to bring it down further.

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healthy foods


Feeling happy with my recent best TSH results, I decided to take it further to 'heal' my body. That is after I accidentally discovered a new 23 Days program that I learnt that 'eating healthy' is simpler than I thought!

I was taught that the 'healthy plate' should look like this:

(2021 Mar) | my healthy plate

And guess what? Back in 2011, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health 
the public health school of Harvard University was already advocating this healthy plate concept. 10 years ago! How many people actually knew and really paid attention to this? I certainly did not!

(2011) | healthy eating plate
credit: harvard TH Chan, Harvard University

Following the above 'healthy plate rule' and incorporating green juices and tweaking a few other lifestyle habitsI had lost 4.8% of my weight ('toxic weight') in 23 days. 

6 months down the road 
constantly applying the above healthy plate rule and adding more plant-based wholesome foods to my diet (with minimal exercise), I have lost 10% of my weight (as at 15th June 2021 and still maintaining). For me, this healthy foods plate is now proven for weight management. My skin glows and looks better than before. I was never expecting this, and I am loving the new me!

As a hyperthyroid patient, being too light is not an entirely good thing but only this time my energy levels has improved vastly. In the past when I lost weight due to hyperthyroidism, not only I looked sickly - I felt extremely weak, lethargic with heart palpitations (up to 120 bpm) that was coupled with anxiety. Every day felt like a 'torture'.

At this moment, even with the 10% weight lost (which I need to gain back +5% to look better), my heart is now beating between 60 - 84 beats per minute. I feel great and more emotionally calm these days. Something I start to treasure as a 'health luxury'. Persevering with my new diet and lifestyle, I will only be able to re-confirm a healthy thyroid status due to plant-based foods and juicing with my next blood test report.

Do I miss the 'unhealthy foods' that I used to eat in the past? Honestly, 'No'. I listened to my body every time I indulged in what seemed decadent and sinful to my health. If the aftermath feeling was crappy, I know it's time to avoid that particular food. So for a decade when I was feeling quite ill, I kept listening to my body and kept eliminating foods that made me felt bad afterwards.

Now, I look forward to each new day eating healthy foods. It gives me better energy levels, it makes me feel happy, and I am also more efficient and productive.  

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The healthy plate can be simplified further. As everyone comes in different shapes and sizes, try the below 'measurement' for yourself (i.e. your own palm-, fist- and thumb- sizes) when deciding on a healthy plate:

If you'd like to achieve better weight management (one of them is losing weight) and improved energy levels, applying the above portion control is a good start. 

And if you have just started experiencing or constantly been troubled with health issues, perhaps you may consider gradually adopting some healthy foods in your diet and using the above portion control tips. You can always take baby steps to adapt to it. The only secret ingredient you really need is YOU - your perseverance and commitment. 

Those who hardly eat greens would exclaim 2 palm size for veggies and fruits! Is it even possible to consume that much fiber on each plate in a day? It is, once you adjust the portions for the lean proteins, healthy carbs and fats. And it's a matter of choice if you really want that healthy diet change.

Eating greens can be tasty. If you are not used to eating much greens in your diet, the typical healthy plate/  bowl looks something like this:

meat healthy plate
credit: foodnetwork

vegan healthy plate
credit: greenqueen

Having more variety of greens could never go very wrong. For anyone with an underlying health condition, they should still take caution and must learn to be informed on what foods to avoid and 'listen' to their body. It is still important not to ignore and to continue with what the doctor(s) has advised and prescribed - as for a health that is already very broken, medicines help to alleviate their symptoms and not aggravate their condition further. And for a health that is broken for a long time, it requires the highest level of perseverance and commitment to slowly 'reverse' some of their conditions.

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For people who switched to the healthy plate from a poor diet (and with juicing), I have personally witnessed that it is possible to 'reverse' health conditions in the short to medium term - especially for conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and certain body inflammation/ aches. Not forgetting water consumption is also crucial for attaining a better health. Here, we are talking about a minimum of 1.5 - 2 liters of water per day. Excluding all other beverages, including even juices.

There are plenty of healthy plate or bowl recipe ideas HERE. As long as you are consistent in applying the 50%: 25%: 20%: 5% guide for the portion control, you are good to go for a healthy start. It's definitely not easy for those who never had greens in their diet, but it's better than not taking the first steps for a better health.

Some additional daily consumption tips for a healthy plate for:
- Vegetables: Go for a variety of 5 colours that suits your health. If consuming both vegetables and fruits in a day, it is important to apply the 80 (vegetables) :20 (fruits) rule of thumb. 
- Wholegrains: I have personally shifted to consume more quinoa, black and red rice, over white and brown rice. I have also introduced the 'healthy' legumes, nuts and seeds into my current healthy plate which were previously missing in my diet. 
- Healthy fats: You may consider under the list HERE.

Everyone's health condition is different. From personal experience, even with healthy foods, what suits the majority may not suit us at times. Hence it is still best to do your own homework to be well-informed and always remember to 'listen' to your body. If you do not feel good (or have an allergic reaction) after consuming certain foods, best is to find out why and if it's better to consume in moderation, minimise or avoid them completely.

Speaking from real life experience, sometimes you may even have to give up your favourite 'unhealthy' foods entirely for your future health's sake - in order not to aggravate any existing mental, physical and emotional suffering.

It's never too late to learn and explore on how real foods can heal your body. Sometimes when the answer is not there, it's all about persevering to keep searching and experimenting. It's taking me over 20 years, and I am still 'searching' for real foods that are 'right' for my body.

Earlier in 2021, I have been observing even the Singapore Health Promotion Board was aggressively promoting the Healthy Plate concept on Facebook. 

Quoting from Health Promotion Board's web page
"My Healthy Plate is an easy-to-understand visual guide, designed by the Health Promotion Board. It helps you adopt healthier eating habits, which in turn can help you better manage your weight and ward off chronic diseases."

I also came upon some very powerful 'new' knowledge on both healthy and unhealthy foods revealed by Dr Mark Hyman. I highly encourage you to watch through the entire 1-hour. I decided to share on Dr Mark Hyman's session as it aligns very much with the knowledge that I learnt from the Science of Nutritional ImmunologyQuote: "Food is the most important regulator of your microbiome. If you feed your gut well, you'll set yourself up for optimal health".

I have put Rob Greenfield's video side by side, as I found him inspiring. I never have green thumbs and only have a tiny corridor for my warm, humble Singapore home. But that should never stop me to discover ways to learn and to grow greens utilising small spaces, and to share them with my next door neighbours. 

(2021, Feb 22) "These Healthy Foods Will Completely Heal Your Body"
credit: Mark Hyman & Lewis Howes

Man Grew and Foraged 100% of His Food for an Entire Year
credit: Epoch Times

"We are just beginning to understand how food influences our cells, tissues, organs, moods, thoughts, feelings and the structure of our bodies, but what scientists have discovered over the last few decades is astonishing.

Foods is not only a source of energy, joy, connection, and pleasure; it can also rejuvenate us and even reverse disease."

Mark Hyman, MD

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