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Here are more frequently asked questions on healthier food choices with answers provided by the Nutrition and Dietetics Department, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at KK Women's and Children's Hospital.

Q: Is butter part of healthy living? What is the recommended intake?

A: Butter is rich in both saturated fat and cholesterol, which may increase the risk of developing heart disease. It also contains a whopping 736kcal per 100g or 37kcal per teaspoon! Hence, it is recommended to consume butter in moderation. An alternative to butter would be low or trans fat-free margarines as these are lower in saturated fat. Examples of margarines which are low in trans fats are those that carry the Health Promotion Board’s Healthier Choice symbol, e.g. Naturel, Olive Grove and Meadow Lea.

Q: I also experience food cravings for those foods that I try to abstain from. I read that “cheat days” are acceptable but which way is more sustainable when one is indulging in “unhealthy food”? For example, should I limit myself to just one hour to eat all the foods I like or eat them more frequently during the week but in lesser amounts each time?

A: It is not advisable to fill yourself up with “empty calories” foods say, for an hour on a chosen “cheat day”, as this is more than likely to cause feelings of guilt to set in and may even lead to a vicious cycle of dieting. In other words, you might feel guilty after consuming the food and have negative thoughts about your body image, which might lead to restricting food intake while you start to feel angry at yourself. Or you might become an “emotional eater” and start gorging or binging, and the cycle continues. The key is to eat in moderation, e.g. taking a small portion of high calorie foods, up to twice a week.

Q: Are salads that I buy from salad bars considered part of eating healthily? I have been told that they add unhealthy ingredients and sauces?

A: Yes, it can most certainly fit into part of eating healthily. However, such salad bars tend to serve meals with low amount of carbohydrates, hence it is not a balanced meal. Opt for a sandwich or wrap, or have a fruit with your salad together with a non-creamy dressing like vinaigrette, honey, lime and coriander instead of ranch or Caesar dressing.The new HPB visual tool, “My Healthy Plate”, provides a good guide as to how much to eat from each food group.

Ref: Q15