I love Malaysian food more than anything in the world. I don’t care that Netflix didn’t name us in that series about street food because I know, in my SOUL, Malaysian food is unbeatable. Second to none. Tahap dewa even. I don’t care that they listed Singapore as a street food destination and not Malaysia – whatever, it’s fine.

Seriously though, I love that I can go out jalan-jalan cari makan and find amazing nasi kandar around every corner, right next to a stall that sells fresh yong tau foo and a gerai kuih. So many different cuisines, so many different choices, but all equally mouth-watering and delicious. Pergh! Dap giler.

But, and I cannot tell you how much it breaks my heart to type the following words, the facts are in and I’ve got to accept the painful, bitter truth – I probably love Malaysian food more than it loves me.

Obesity and our foodie culture

According to the World Health Organization, Malaysians have the second highest rate of child obesity in our region. And we might not want to admit it, but our foodie culture definitely plays a big part in all this.


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So, some facts: 70% of Malaysian teens eat heavy meals after supper at least once a week. I’m talking fast food and Maggi Goreng at the mamak kinda heavy – and I would know, because I am totally guilty of this!

And then what’s weird kan, is we eat so much for supper when we really shouldn’t, but breakfast, which is like the most important meal of the day, we slalu skip. And we take too much sugar.

Like really. It’s scary.

  • Infographics of How Teens Eat in Malaysia. 36% of Malaysian students have carbonated soft drinks at least once daily.
  • Infographics on How Teens Eat in Malaysia. 7 in 10 adolescents skip breakfast regularly; while 74% of obese adolescents skip breakfast.
  • How teens eat in Malaysia. 70% of Malaysian adolescents consume heavy meals after supper.

I was not about to just boycott all the food that sparked joy for me. So I did some research lah. And basically we can still have some sugar, spice and foods that are nice – we just need to make a few changes and be more informed. Remember #KurangManis bcos #ImSweetEnough la!

Here’s a little cheat sheet I came up with to break it down!

Cheat Sheet for a #ZeroHunger Diet
– VERSI MALAYSIA

  • Choose water instead of canned drinks.
  • Swap your daily teh tarik for teh o.
  • “Kurang manis ya” for all your drinks.
  • Go for thosai instead of roti canai at the mamak. One piece of thosai has under 200 calories and is more nutritious overall. Also, yay, chutney!
  • Grilled > Deep Fried. So, Tandoori > KFC.
  • Kurang nasi, tambah sayur, tambah lagi buah!
  • Have your breakfast!
  • Reduce eating heavy meals during supper.
  • Got extra? Jangan bazir! Kongsilah dengan kawan ke sapa-sapa yang tak cukup makan.

Might seem simple, but these changes can actually go a long way. And being mindful of what we put in our bodies won’t just be good for us. It’s not just our health at stake here; what we eat also impacts the environment. Our culture around food is really part of a larger issue.

#ZeroHunger World 2030

The UN targets to achieve a #ZeroHunger World by 2030, ending hunger and malnourishment across the globe. So, by thinking a bit more about our diet, we’ll also be doing our part to reduce food waste. But of course, it’s not all on us lah! So much food from our local restaurants, supermarkets and especially buffets go to waste, when they could go to someone who can’t afford food.

Also, when it comes to nutrition, school canteens need to do their bit to provide us with healthier meals in school. I really wish they didn’t have get rid of pisang goreng though – thankfully bananas are pretty delicious on their own too. Phew!

Anyway, please don’t come for me if you felt personally attacked by any of this relatable content. I know, I know – Malaysian food is so good! And we’ve always thought it was kinda healthy since they said nasi lemak is supposed to be a balanced breakfast food (news flash – it’s not really).

To summarise A.K.A . tl;dr – we should all probably be more mindful about what we put in our bodies. After all, we only get one of them!

World Food Day is happening soon! It’s celebrated every 16th October. If you wanna read even more about World Food Day and how you can create a #ZeroHunger World, click here.

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