Consuming less oil, salt and sugar, reducing the amount of carbohydrates intake and having a healthy and balanced diet is totally not important to me. With totally no regard and control over what and when I eat, my diet is considered unhealthy. Firstly, I would eat at different and irregular times of the day, whether it is during mealtimes or in the wee hours of the morning. Studies have shown that people that eat foods late at night tends to consume more calories than necessary and lean towards food choices that are detrimental to the body (Meixner, 2018). Personally, I cannot deny the fact that the foods I eat late at night is unhealthy. This is due to the lack of availability of healthy foods. The only foods that are available would be foods that do not require much preparation, mostly consisting of junk food that are high in calories, or delivery services from fast food restaurants that are still operating.
Also, my meals are not the healthiest. My preference for strong tasting foods would mean that the foods I eat are filled with oils, flavourings and seasonings. Additionally, when dining with friends, we would go for food options that are popular fast food chains or fancy but affordable restaurants. These food providers mostly prioritise the quality of their food products and service over the health standards of their food, hence, causing the food to mostly be unhealthy. Also, meals eaten outside would sometimes be coupled with a drink, hence, causing an increase in my intake of sugary beverages.
My indifferent attitude towards tracking and maintaining a healthy diet is a hindrance to me achieving a healthy lifestyle. As mentioned in Part 1, the absence of self-control over what I eat contributed to my unhealthy diet. Brain scans conducted by Dr Alain Dagher showed that people that can better control their cravings have better results in terms of shedding extra weight (Thompson, 2018). This meant that people who can better stop their urge to eat unhealthy foods would see better results in terms of losing weight and probably better health in the long run. Thus, this implies that my lack of effort and control in curbing my appetite could be a main contributor to my unhealthy diet .
My socio-economic status could be another reason for my poor diet. In the journal article, it states that teenagers that have a slightly wealthier family background would be able to purchase different varieties and types of foods that could possibly be high-caloric (Ni, Chang & Chen, 2019). Being able to afford higher priced foods that possibly have higher calories, contributed to my poor choices in selecting food and my adoption of a diet that is harmful to my health.
Family plays a vital role in ensuring that children enjoy eating healthy foods and adopt healthier eating habits (Yogurt in Nutrition, 2019). My family does not restrict our daily meals, nor do we place importance on picking the healthier choices. Since the habit of recording my daily calorie intake and picking the healthier options of food was not instilled in me when I was young, I would not habitually keep checks on my diet now either, hence hindering my motivation to adopt a healthier diet.
Furthermore, the unhealthy dietary habits of my social network also contributed to my unhealthy diet. Teenagers nowadays would frequent popular bubble tea shops, cafés and restaurant with their friends and post them on their social media sites. In order to be recognised as being in trend, many teenagers including myself would visit these popular outlets along with the craze, although the food served are mostly high in calories. Café and restaurant owners had also recognised the importance of achieving both aesthetics and taste recognition from their customers and are mostly stepping up their game in this area (Leow, 2016). This would then lead to a continuous cycle of consuming various high-caloric foods, making it difficult to maintain a healthy diet.
With booths being set up in NUS at different times of the year, food is usually used to attract the attention of teenagers nowadays. High calorie foods such as popcorn, bubble tea and fried foods are usually made readily available to entice students to approach the booth. Personally, I have been attracted to booths set up by P&G and WorldQuant due to the presence of free bubble tea and popcorn upon visiting their booths. Since many pop-up booths that are set up in NUS use, usually high calorie, foods to attract students to visit their booths, it has contributed to the intake of high calories food amongst students, hindering my ability to adopt a healthy diet.
In the fast-paced environment today, many people prioritise convenience over health. As mentioned in a Straits Times article, “Busy lifestyles also mean that many eat out, or opt for easy-to-prepare processed food, which is typically higher in calories” (Lai, 2017). This shows that Singapore is experiencing a shift in dietary habits towards such unhealthy and high-caloric foods. Personally, the high demands of academic and non-academic activities would lead to my choice of convenient foods as well. The thought of having too much time wasted in getting my meals would deter me from opting for healthier options. Since there is a limited amount of healthy to-go foods, I would usually end up choosing unhealthier but faster food options.
Additionally, healthier food options may also be more expensive, which further deters me from choosing healthier foods. This could be due to the small market that prioritises healthy food. The low demands of such healthy foods results in high prices, making it difficult to compete with less healthy foods that have lower prices (Mahmud, 2017). As a student, I will tend to look for cheaper and more affordable food options, thus contributing to my habits of not consuming healthy foods.
Singapore has imposed a tax on sugars, showing their efforts in starting a nationwide strategy to curb obesity and diabetes. As most of these unhealthy amounts of sugar intake come from sweetened beverages, the Ministry of Health had implemented several policies, such as the Healthier Choice Symbol, Healthier Dining Programme and Healthier Ingredient Development Scheme (Ministry of Health, 2019), to keep Singaporeans’ sugar intake in check. Despite these attempts by the government to reduce the sugar intake of Singaporeans, the sugar intake might not be lowered significantly. This could be due to Singaporeans’ psychological thoughts of needing sugary products in their daily lives (Yuen, 2019), which may dampen the effectiveness of the sugar tax. Therefore, in spite of the government stressing the importance of the reduction in sugar intake, there seems to be minimal changes in the population. Linking this back to my personal example, due to my strong preference and liking for sugary drinks, imposing the tax would not deter me from buying the drink. Therefore, the tax proves to be ineffective in changing my dietary habits.