Malaysian food pyramid

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TWO weeks ago, you told us about the American Food Plate, which has replaced the old food pyramid. Is there a Malaysian version of the pyramid?

Yes, there is. There is a set of Malaysian Dietary Guidelines, which has been recently revised (in 2010), to combat the mounting problem of obesity in Malaysia.

It has two aims – get people to eat healthier and get them to practise an active lifestyle. Basically, we need to make better food choices in our daily meals. You can visit

There are 14 key messages in these guidelines.

There are messages in guidelines?

Yes. They are:

1. Eat a variety of foods, but they must be within your recommended daily food intake.

2. Maintain your body weight within a healthy range.

3. Be active physically every day.

4. You should eat an adequate amount of rice, cereal products (whole grain is preferred) and tubers.

5. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables every day.

6. Eat moderate amounts of meat, fish, poultry (chicken, duck), eggs, legumes and nuts.

7. Drink or eat adequate amounts of milk and milk products.

8. Limit foods that are high in fats (like butter and fried foods). Try not to use so much oils or fats in preparing your food.

9. Don’t use too much salt and sauces in preparing foods.

10. Eat and drink foods and beverages that are low in sugar.

11. Drink plenty of water every day.

12. When you have a baby, breastfeed the baby exclusively on breast milk from the day he/she is born to the age of six months. Thereafter, continue breastfeeding while introducing other foods until your child is two years of age.

13. Eat and drink safe foods and beverages.

14. Make effective use of nutrition information on food labels. (Always look for kCal per serving/100g etc and find out what went into making that particular food.)
So what goes into the Malaysian food pyramid?

The Malaysian food pyramid is divided into four tiers. Unlike old food pyramids that tell you to eat as much as you want from the bottommost tier, this one limits the carbohydrate group (which consists of rice, noodles, bread, cereals and tubers) to four to eight servings a day.

The second tier above it contains fruits and vegetables. You should eat three servings of vegetables a day and two servings of fruit a day, at the very least. This is one tier that you should eat plenty from.

The third tier consists of fish, poultry, meat and legumes, as well as milk and dairy products. You should eat half to two servings of meat, poultry or eggs per day, one serving of fish per day, and half to one serving of legumes per day.

As for milk and dairy products, just eat/drink one to three servings a day.

The topmost tier consists of fat, oils, sugar and salt. Eat very little from this.

Can you give me the calorie contents of some famous Malaysian foods? What about nasi lemak and roti canai?

Below are some examples. Please bear in mind that we don’t only eat what is listed here (such as nasi lemak itself), but we tend to add curry chicken and ikan bilis in sambal and nuts as well.

So all that would add to the calories.

Very high calorie foods

*Fried rice (with egg, chicken and vegetables) – one plate has more than 600kcal

*Three pieces of fried chicken with coleslaw, mash potatoes and bun – one plate has more than 600kcal

High calorie foods

*Curry mee – one bowl has 401-600 kcal

*Nasi biryani (just the rice alone) – one plate has 401-600 kcal

Moderate calorie foods

*Nasi lemak (rice only) – one plate has 100-400 kcal

*Fried koay teow – one plate has 100-400 kcal

*Roti canai (without curry) – one piece has 100-400 kcal

*Capati (without curry) – one piece has 100-400 kcal

*Fried noodles – one plate has 100-400 kcal

*Cheeseburger – one burger has 100-400 kcal

What sort of physical activity should I be doing?

There is also a physical activity pyramid. At the bottommost tier are things you should be doing every day, such as walking up the stairs instead of taking an escalator, walking to the shops instead of taking a car, housework, gardening etc.

Basically, you should be walking as much as you can.

The second tier consists of exercises you should be doing 30 minutes five to six times a week, such as brisk walking, playing active sports, swimming, aerobics etc.

The third tier are activities that increase your strength, flexibility and muscle endurance, such as weight lifting, stretching, push ups, sit ups etc.

The final tier should be limited, and that is being at your computer or watching TV.

(Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health advice, computers and entertainment. For further information, e-mail [email protected] The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information).

The Star Wednesday July 25, 2012

Category: What's Up Doc
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