I'm spending my spring in Singapore and have been trying to eat at least semi-paleo. My current problem is that I've resorted to a diet quite close to that one described in Fat Head i.e. hamburgers and diet cola during the day and maybe some muslim food (such as chicken or fish) during the evening.
The problem is worsened by my general unwillingness to cook anything while I'm here and the lack of cooking equipment (I don't want to buy tons of stuff just to throw it away when I leave in few months).
So the general problem is that I think I eat too much carbs currently but I would like continue eating out all the time while most of the food stalls try to make it impossible to get any decent amounts of meat or vegetables. Any tip, trick or hacks would be greatly appreciated.
asked bylhahne (260)
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on February 13, 2010
at 08:19 AM
dude. are you kidding? singapore is a bastion of naturally low-carb cuisines. in fact, most non-western ethnic cuisines are paleo-friendly. rice is served on the side and easily avoided; even excluding noodle dishes you have a ton of options.
how do i eat, as a singaporean caveman?
for lunch i do nasi padang or roast pork, within easy walking distance of the office. for nasi padang, which features chicken and beef cooked in coconut curries, i can recomend the stall at the southeast corner of north bridge road and kandahar street. if you say you're eating muslim food then you're probably know what i'm talking about. indian curries follow a similar format.
for chinese roast pork (think crackling) try "gourmet corner" on phillip street. they have the fastest moving lines in the business.
most sit-down chinese restaurants, if you go a la carte, separate the meats from the starches. for instance,
i hope this isn't too alien to you -- but if you don't want to die like a white man, don't eat like a white man: white sugar, white flour, white rice.
for dinner, i usually do a steak (grass-fed) or just three or four eggs scrambled in butter. this requires nothing more complicated than a stainless steel frypan and spatula, which will pay for themselves in a week. if you absolutely refuse to cook, there are lots of restaurants which will be happy to serve you fish and steak. but after a few months on the paleo diet it doesn't bother me to eat once a day. "three meals a day" is cultural conditioning. sure, breakfast is the most important meal of the day ... if you ask the American Corn Growers Association. but now i eat when i'm hungry and i stop when i'm not. not when i'm full. there's a huge caloric difference between the two.
If you're with a large group, consider steamboat hot pot: yet another ethnic cuisine which is 100% paleo if you just hold the rice and noodles. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_pot
Along those lines, Korean barbecue is also mostly meat and 5% green vegetables. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_barbecue
the thing that helped me most was not thinking of food as entertainment or stress relief. for smokers, for alcoholics, cigarettes and booze are a way to not deal with something that's bothering them. carbohydrates can be a way to assuage emotional needs that aren't being met anywhere else.
to be fair, carbohydrates aren't always an addiction. food is an important way to feel a sense of belonging to a culture: some societies don't eat pigs. others don't eat dog. for westerners, drinking beer and eating wheat- and corn-based foods are an important cultural marker. add to that fifty years of conventional wisdom and it's really hard to change anyone's eating behaviour who isn't already an iconoclast in some way.
Elaboration in response to comments:
Grass-fed beef can be found at any Cold Storage. The glass counters usually hold US grainfed; look to the refrigerated shelves nearby for pre-packed NZ or Australian pastured. (Those may still be grain-finished.) All the usual cuts are available. I don't shop at NTUC so I don't know if they carry, but if you can't find what you want at Cold Storage then go to either Jason's or the 360 place at Ion. Those are Cold Storage's deluxe groceries.
If you want to go artisanal there are a couple of specialist butchers who care about feed:
I don't do gyms, so I can't help you there. But the American-style gym shop industry is as strong as you'd expect in a country where McDonald's delivers 24/7 nationwide.
on March 14, 2010
at 01:12 PM
I have lived in Seoul, Korea for a little more than a year and a half now-- like Singapore, it is quiet easy to eat Paleo on Korean food! I don't eat out that often, mostly I cook at home, but when I do (at a Korean restaurant) its almost always a matter of just not eating the rice or noodles! (or tofu). They have plenty of grilled meats, stews with vegetables, and of course loads of fermented veggies (I hear those are supposed to be really good for you... Mark Sisson mentioned that recently http://www.marksdailyapple.com/yogurt-mania/ )
So if you see any Korean restaurants....
The one other not quiet paleo delicious Korean food, though, is their potato pancakes. I don't mind having a "cheat" for those occasionally!
Oh, and I think Koreans invented the "lettuce wrap" -- their version grilled strips of marinated beef with spicy red bean paste called sam-gyeop-sal (or to us foreigners "beef n leaf")
on February 14, 2010
at 06:02 PM
I was there for this past December, and I was not allowed to cook at the place I was staying, so I got pretty familiar with the options there. Having spent time in China, I had expected it to be a desert for human-appropriate food. I was surprised to find that Singapore was a paradise for paleos.
First, any of the hawker centers will sell meats that are much fattier than anything that is sold in the US: pork belly, roast duck, even duck heads are common. Second, high quality grass-fed dairy fat in all its forms from New Zealand is sold at every grocery store. Also, the Kara brand of coconut cream is great and inexpensive. Finally, a few specific restaurant recommendations: Han's serves grass-fed steaks from NZ, the Korean place in Rochor Center (Bugis MRT) has excellent pan-fried saba (mackerel). And don't forget about sashimi at any of the sushi places.
It's pretty easy to avoid all the garbage once you have found good sources of animal fat. I made a few interesting observations over there. All of the Malay women who wear the headscarves (and full body coverage) display a lot more physical degeneration (corpulence, bloated faces, etc) than anyone else there. Is this just from having lots of kids, or is the lack of sun exposure a significant factor? Also, every evening at the hawker centers, almost everyone there seems to drink a big cup of sugar cane juice, basically pure 15% sucrose water. How are they able to handle this fructose load without physical side effects? Is it the vitamin D factor of living in the tropics?
The things I miss most are Durians and duck brains, since they don't have those at all in the states.
on September 21, 2011
at 11:35 PM
Hi there, I'm Singaporean and have no idea what type of hawker food is considered Paleo. I don't trust sources of animal fat from hawker food coz hawkers are in all likelihood not using grass fed meat. They're probably also not using olive oil or coconut oil as they're both expensive. [Think O6:O3 ratio] Thai coconut curries use palm sugar, and most of our food are centred around rice or noodles with rice or noodles as the MAIN dish, not side.
As for coconut milk, your best bet would be to buy freshly grated coconut from an Indian Muslim grocery shop and squeeze your own. Alternatively, the Ayam Brand coconut milk and cream is 100% coconut. The Kara brand, whilst tasty, contains stabilisers and vegetable gums.
Apart from yong tau foo (no fish cake or fish balls (unless made fresh, but what do they bind it with?), sausage, tofu), I find it hard to think of foods that will give you your balance of protein, good fat and vegetables without additives. Hotpots are great too, but what are your 'fresh' food options?
I honestly have no confidence in hawker food being Paleo-friendly. Cooking at home is best!!
on May 06, 2012
at 09:29 PM
I live in Singapore and if you think food stalls are a heaven for paleo eating then think again. My understanding that paleo eating is just as much about how food was grown/produced as it is about what you eat. You will be hard pressed to find grass fed/hormone free meat or poultry or non-farmed fish/seafood. In addition to make dishes strong in flavor (and that is what the palate is generally accustomed to in Singapore) many processed cooking aids are used. Food stalls do not produce master stocks (economically unviable) and instead use powdered bouillon (if you are lucky) or MSG powder. Appreciate MSG is a naturally occurring component found in many foods, but the way it is used as a cooking aid is anything but natural. It's natural composition is also altered to be able to deliver it as a powder. Yes, there a lot of food options in Singapore but quantity is a poor substitute for quality. A lot of progress has been made in the last 11 years since I landed on Singapore's shore but there is a long way to go. Good, healthy, organic options remain the domain of the price insensitive wealthy consumers.
on September 15, 2011
at 01:30 AM
I live in Taiwan and it's quite hard to eat paleo unless you cook everything yourself. The problem is that pretty much everything is cooked in some kind of "vegetable" oil. It's almost impossible to avoid corn starch and flour as well if you're mostly eating out. Honestly, I'd be surprised if it was much different in Singapore. So watch out for those hidden non-paleo nasties.
on September 15, 2011
at 12:24 AM
Hi Elise! Nope you are not really alone. My hubby and I are transitioning from the 4 Hour Body diet into something more Primal/Paleo (we seem to skip cheat days lately, somehow hadn't had dairy in ages). We get strange looks when we eat without rice, so we explain that we are trying to lose weight. For some reason, among Malays some people have lost weight this way, but they are not influenced by Paleo, just some popular culture.
I think you are right,we Malay women don't really exercise, but I see the younger generation changing that. There are more modest options such as lady gyms and ladies' hours at swimming pools nowadays, so more of my female friends are joining up. Me, I enjoy swimming and have a modest suit that covers my body well enough that I just swim whenever I feel like it. I used to do taekwondo as well, and entered tournaments fully covered up.
Another factor is our diet, there seems to be sugary drinks and treats EVERYWHERE. And I hate the MSG too. I think palm oil is not so bad, because when we replaced canola oil with palm oil my hubby's skin flare ups were reduced. I also go for tosai which is fermented rice flour instead of roti canai/parata.
Actually traditional Malay fare (masak kampung) in the rural areas feature rice, coconut milk gravy, sambal belacan (pounded chillis with fermented shrimp paste), clear soup, maybe some salted fish, and lots of local fresh salads called ulam. You can still get this in the cities but you have to know which rsstaurants to go to.
on August 11, 2011
at 07:47 AM
I live in Malaysia and it's easy to eat paleo if paleo = no rice, noodles, potatoes or bread. I order the regular restaurant food and ask for no rice/noodles/fries with it. You'll still be eating palm oil, salt and probably MSG. Be sure to ask if something is deep fried when you order it because a lot of food you wouldn't expect is deep fried here.
Acton, IMO Malay women are overweight because they aren't encouraged to exercise because it is 'unladylike.' Also, it must be horrible to exercise in 32C heat when you're covered from head to toe. Malay men aren't much healthier and they get more sun. Additionally, Malay cuisine is based on rice and deep-fried chicken which can't help (seriously, it's the main item on EVERY menu.)
I think I'm the only paleo person in Malaysia. It gets a bit lonely. Send me an email if you're coming here and we can hang out.
on January 12, 2015
at 07:17 AM
If you're already eating high-carb, then a HC rice-based diet would still be way healthier than a HC gluten and processed food diet, which it sounds like you're eating now.
I am not familiar with singapore, but I know that in Japan, China and Thailand it's so easy to find fast and cheap food places that serve meat and vegetables over rice.
on June 06, 2013
at 07:24 AM
I've bought meat at www.mmmm.com.sg as well. It's a good option although the last time I was there, the only free-range meat they had was beef. I was looking for chicken and pork as well.
on May 04, 2013
at 05:05 PM
Hi I started to try paleo for 2 weeks, I lost 3kg. And not even strict paleo yet. I m a little easier I m chinese malaysian they're pork that says vegetarian pig. I believe we can still eat kampung chickens. I just shop and cook on weekend. If got to entertainment try only eat meat and vegetables, when ppl ask or give funny look and I ll say allergy. Remember when we care what those ppl think. We are the one become fatter and they laugh and if lipo suction or pain or sick, who pay and who suffer.
Now I know I m not alone in Malaysia. Stay healthy Jacquelin E
on October 18, 2012
at 06:56 AM
Hey people! I'm on Paleo and I am a Malaysian Malay. I have been on this way of eating since end of April 12. I thought Im the only paleo person in Malaysia too, Elise! My health is improving. I lost sizes too! I'm looking for Paleo buddies , feel free to contact me.
Specky speckyspeckyfoureyes gmail :)
Have a nice day
on September 07, 2012
at 02:21 AM
I posted this same thing in a different paleo hacks thread...
I'm trying to put together a low-tech site to help us Paleo folks living in Singapore navigate the scene. If you stumble across any info that could be useful to the broader community, please let me know! Here's the paleo portion of my blog where I've posted a few spots to find paleo delights:
For more Paleo Diet hacks: Any paleo's in Singapore? - PaleoHacks.com http://paleohacks.com/questions/87278/any-paleos-in-singapore#ixzz25kLk3CdH
on September 15, 2011
at 12:55 AM
I've spent quite a bit of time in Singapore and recommend the hawker food centres in Little India - if you look around you can get great fresh Paleo food at incredibly good prices!
on February 14, 2010
at 06:00 AM
I'm in Hong Kong and there are quite a few choices. I find that Asia's approach to vegetables yields a lot of green fibrous options whereas you're a bit lacking in North America.
However, if you're eating out a lot, I am weary about the preparation of the meals with sauces and oils.
on February 13, 2010
at 06:28 PM
Excellent information! I will be moving to Singapore in the next few months for a 2 - 3 year gig and was wondering about the availability of paleo foods. Where do you get your grass fed meat in Singapore? Also, do you know of any good gyms that have decent power lifting equipment? I will be working in Raffles Place. No idea yet where I will be living.