Eating At Home Vs Eating At A Hawker

BradleyLife in Singapore3 Comments

Over dinner, my wife and I made an observation about the food we were eating.  It was heavy on vegetables and we liked it that way.  It was a home cooked meal of pork chops, broccoli, and a sinigang based soup with radish and a green, leafy vegetable.

It’s really easy to get roped into the habit of eating at the hawker all the time.  The food is good and it’s well priced.  Depending on what country you come from, you might even say it’s dirt cheap.  When you can eat a tasty, filling meal for a good price it’s hard to make yourself get into the kitchen and break out the pots and pans.

The problem with that is hawker food isn’t the healthiest choice more often than not.  Hawker dishes tend to be heavy on rice, a staple food, and light on vegetables which are necessary for a balanced diet.

Here are a few example dishes:

On top of that, most hawker food will be loaded with MSG.  MSG in small doses probably won’t do much harm, but if you fall into the habit of eating all of your meals at the hawker, or even eating there multiple times in one day, it can cause health issues.  Here’s a list of what you experience from too much MSG:

  • Headaches/migraines
  • Lethargy
  • Sleepiness
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Mental confusion/disorientation
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Bloating
  • Asthma attacks
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Runny nose/sneezing
  • Extreme dryness of the mouth
  • Hives or rash
  • Palpitations
  • Flushing
  • Mouth lesions

Please follow through on this link for additional information about the hazards associated with MSG, along with who should avoid MSG.  I’ve had an MSG induced migraine on more than one occasion and it is NOT fun.

Hawker food can also have other health consequences, like higher risks of food poisoning and even death, as reported in a recent case where 152 people fell ill and 2 died from food contamination at an Indian Rojak stall at the Geylang Serai Temporary Market.

By all means, enjoy Singapore’s food culture, which is most prevalent in the country’s numerous hawkers, but be aware of the health risks and remember to eat at home more often than you eat out.  When you do the math you’re not going to pay much more, and often it’ll be less, and you’ll have more peace of mind that your body is getting what it needs.

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3 Comments on "Eating At Home Vs Eating At A Hawker"

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U R WHAT U READ!

worse you might have a reaction called Kwok's disease. But yeah sometimes I like to eat at the hawker. its less hassle and there are plenty of choices.

Brad F.
When I was in the US Army, we had a cafeteria available to us. We could eat at it 3 times a day for free. I rarely took advantage of it because I thought the food wasn't that good. I miss it now though, especially the salad bar and fried chicken. The breakfasts kicked ass too. Anyhow, you're right. A lot of prepackaged foods have MSG in them. I try to keep an eye out to monitor how much I eat. It really disturbs me that so many things have MSG in them, when it's known that it can cause… Read more »
AZNPride

MSG is commonplace these days in just about ANY prepared package, be it hawker food or even MREs. For really healthy food, its either going organic in your kitchen, or some michelin-starred boutique kitchen with michelin-starred prices as well. I kinda miss college meals plans stateside. Crappy food, but eat-all-you-want, one fixed-price per semester, and if its REALLY bad on any given day, head out to Taco Bell's or call for Domino's and split the charges between the roomies. Perfect food for bachelors!

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