Food & Drink

Healthy Eating in Kuala Lumpur

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Healthy living isn’t an overnight commitment process, it is about changing your daily habits and patterns to revitalize, detox, and cleanse your body in a sustainable fashion over an extended period of time. Living well is a combination of dieting right and frequent exercise and although you can’t live well without one or the other, this article will choose to focus on the ‘diet’ part of living healthy.

As the old saying goes, “you are what you eat”, and our rich Malaysian cuisine is a clear culprit in contributing to the nation’s obesity rates, with an article in The Star noting that Malaysia is the fattest country in South East Asia as of 2013. Most of us across the nation frequently find ourselves tempted by the vast array of tantalizing but unhealthy Malaysian dishes and while tasty, Malaysian culinary delights can be extremely unhealthy. Most tasty curry dishes are cooked with high-cholesterol coconut milk, fatty oils, and other heart-blocking ingredients. Consuming rich Malaysian foods irregularly is fine, but constant indulgence will definitely send you to an early grave. We have compiled alternative choices for those wishing to eat healthier in order to increase longevity.

1) Cooking at Home

Cooking at home is a great way to stay lean and fit, as we can often improvise, adapt, and control the ingredients used for a dish, thus potentially having the option to make a healthier version of a particular dish. Malaysian street foods are decadently sumptuous and are more often prepared with unhealthy ingredients such as lard, coconut milk, and artery-clogging oils in order to make it as delicious as possible. While not everything under the sun that tastes good makes it good for you, we can prepare the same Malaysian street foods we love in our own homes with an added health twist. Simple steps such as substituting vegetable or coconut oil when cooking for olive oil can go a long way in helping your heart. We can opt to cook anything we want, as most cuisines often offer foods that range from being as easy as salad assembly to gourmet chef type levels. Uncovering and following some health-centric recipes can be easy, rewarding, and as satisfying as eating out.

Here are some websites that offers healthy recipes for both Malaysian and non-Malaysian foods:

  • Just As Delish (Features a healthy take on Malaysian and non-Malaysian cuisine)
  • Malaysia Kitchen (Masterchef Australia’s winner is a Malaysian named Poh. Her website features various Malaysian favourites. While her recipes aren’t extremely healthy, we can adjust the ingredients in a dish accordingly to give it a twist of health if need be.)
  • NutriWeb healthy recipes (Nutrition society of Malaysian recipes for a healthier living)


2) Choosing Healthy Eateries

Time can often be scarce for the modern workingman. As such, eating out tends to be a popular choice when dining in Kuala Lumpur due to its affordability and delectability. Even though the culinary scene throughout the nation seems to be littered with a bevy of scrumptious foods, they can be reasonably unhealthy if consumed regularly. Fortunately, healthy eateries do exist throughout the city. While not in abundance, most popular dining areas around Kuala Lumpur tend to have a few health food establishments. These eateries are sprouting up to cater to the rising demand of Malaysians seeking nutritional food joints. Before you enter a restaurant, take a look at their menu and ask the maître d’ or waiter if there are any healthy options. Simple tips include avoiding sugary drinks, switch up high carb meals for a salad and soup, eating smart whenever possible, and avoiding heavy meals during the night. Changing your food habits is key to ensuring a vigorous and thriving you.

Also, if you’re interested to find delicious and healthy catering options, you can check out Culinary Capers in Kuala Lumpur.  Culinary Capers provides catering services for small groups, such as 5 people, up to large groups, such as 50 people. 


3) Avoid Fatty Foods

Fatty, sugary, and high-carb foods and beverages are abundant throughout the city’s vast array of restaurants, cafes, and street stalls. Staying healthy means omitting these tempting foods out of the equation. Sure you can reward yourself with a delicious meal once every while if you think you deserve it, but excluding them from your regular diet will go a long way in keeping you fit and lean. Avoid sweet Malaysian kuihs (pastries and desserts), fast food joints, mamak foods, anything deep-fried, and anything bathing in fatty oil. That should be your ‘eat smart’ rule of thumb. Stick to low-fat high protein meals such as chicken breast, fish, or lean parts of pork and beef. While consuming carbohydrates is essential for those requiring the energy, try to keep them to a bare minimum for dinner. Also, try to resist late night snacking on fatty foods that have empty calories. If really hungry, consume unprocessed foods such as walnuts, almonds, fruits, and other organics.


Here are some resources on what foods to avoid when trying to keep fit and healthy:

  • 3fatchicks (A simple and quick guide on what to avoid to stop adding inches to you waist. A higher waistline is correlated to having a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases)
  • helpguide (A look at some of four of the most common major types of fats and understanding them)
  • Harvard school of public health (Understanding fats and cholesterol)

4) Go Semi-Vegetarian

Vegetarianism is a popular dieting choice for those wishing to detox. Here in Malaysia, however, going vegetarian may often be due to either health or religious purposes, since Buddhists and Hindus are well-known vegetarians. It is also a good way to stay healthy, shed a few pounds, and to increase longevity. Furthermore, it is possible to get all your required daily nutrition from vegetables alone. While you wouldn’t have to go completely vegetarian in order to stay healthy, going semi-vegetarian for a week or two can certainly improve your vitality. Maybe set yourself a vegetarian goal, alternating between days, weeks, or months if you think you can handle it. Kuala Lumpur has tons of vegetarian dining options, from Chinese and Indian to Western and Fusion vegetarian food fares. Try it and you might be surprised at the health effects that can benefit you.

Here are some resources on going vegetarian:

  • happy cow (A website that has a directory of vegetarian eateries around KL)
  • vegetarian times (Learning about why to go vegetarian and the benefits of doing so)

5) Counting Calories

Counting calories is essential when living in Malaysia, as it is one of the measures that we can take to ensure that we do not go overboard and join the health-risk ranks of being obese. While it is impractical to remember the calorific count for every food that you eat, it is not impossible to find out the rough calorific value of every food item you consume thanks to online nutritional databases. The basic science of keeping lean and fit is relatively simple. Your body burns a certain number of calories a day, the more physically active you are, the more you burn, the less physically active you are, and the less you burn. So, if you don’t want to gain weight, don’t over consume your daily calorie burn count. If say you burn 2000 calories a day, try not to past that mark. Exercise will further increase your daily burn count.

Here are some resources to help you count your calorific intake and to roughly estimate your daily calorie burn rate:

  • calorie count (A website that allows you to roughly estimate your daily calorie burn rate base on your build)
  • (A Malaysian food nutrition and calorie database)
  • my.openrice (Quick tips on dining healthily in Malaysia)

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