Saturday, August 10, 2013

真的吗?:Stop counting Calories


As I have mentioned in my profile or somewhere in this blog, adapting to food customs of a different culture can be both exciting and challenging. I panicked for the first couple months when I couldn't find cheese. (What was I going to eat with watermelon? Yikes?!) Then I complained when I had to travel for hours to find it. Then my cheese shopping days became an impromptu food safari as I sampled the local delicacies and street food around me. Before I knew it, six months passed without me using or tasting cheese and even butter.

Pizza from a local Pizzeria
Those food safaris were scary at first. Bugs on a stick, hundred year old egg, stinky tofu. I know. Nothing sounds appealing here. But what it did teach me is that there's a lot of variety if we just look around a bit more. For instance my calcium intake decreased with my lack of dairy. Soon I discovered a love for soybean products such as soy bean milk and tofu, seaweed, bok choy, day lily flower all containing acceptable levels of calcium and as a bonus avoiding the high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol that hide in the shadows of dairy products.
Stinky Tofu sold street side
Many people find eating healthy to be very boring or difficult because of the restrictions but as my eyes have opened, I see tons of possibilities, avenues for creativity and exposure to more nutrients in your diet. When eating with my Chinese family and friends, they have never once mentioned calories, saturated fats, radicals and other factors we tend to obsess about. And here's why:

Water

 They drink water all day, most times hot or at room temperature. Water is the cleanest fuel your body can run on. It controls your appetite so that you're not always first in line at the donut shop and increases metabolism so that your body breakdowns fat during the day and in between meals.

Tea

Simply brewed with hot water, Chinese tea, whether its green leaves, black leaves or precious rose and chrysanthemum petals, are cool and refreshing and provides a ton of benefits from a healthy liver to beautiful skin.

Meal portions

You open the menu and order a beef meal expecting juicy clunk of meat dripping in that rich marinade. Sorry to be a dream crusher but it will most likely appear in strips. Whether its duck, rabbit, chicken or pork, the flesh is most times served in smaller pieces. It aids in quicker digestion and also keeps you from celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas everyday. Veggies are served the same, all as separate dishes instead of the individual plates. 
Dinner for the fam

  I personally have so much fun eating like this because I usually have 5 or 6 different types of meat and veggies in one meal. By the time I'm full, I've actually eaten much less than a typical Western meal yet consumed so many 'good' nutrients.
Dinner for one


Time

Spontaneity is fun but let's face it, our bodies need routine. I mean every time our hearts skip too many a beat, we run to the doctor. My friend taught me a very valuable lesson in Chinese culture: Eat before you're hungry and sleep before you're tired. So firstly, try not to skip meals. Secondly, try to eat them at the same time everyday. This one's a bit tough if you're a workaholic or live alone but it's really worth the try. Thirdly and most important is your last meal. Just like our eyes follow the second hand at 3:59 with bag in hand, our bodies have their closing time. And when the boss calls you in for overtime, don't you work as slow as you can so you get more pay. Guess what currency your body pays in. Having dinner between 4 and 6 pm gives the body enough time to digest and pack up for the night. "But Kizzy, those worms in my tummy are keeping me awake." No problem mon. Try fruits that are low in fiber or yogurt which is low in fat. And maybe some Zentel?

Let's get physical

Honestly, I love this section the most because it really captures the Chinese view on health. On my way to school and back, I'm guaranteed to meet Tai Chi folks, pole dancers (not what you're thinking) and professional walkers. They are mostly over the age of 70 but they don't look it at all. Over 40ers are mainly into waltz and traditional Chinese aerobics and fill any park or square with up to 60 women and sometimes men every night. And we young folks take the jogging. Just 20 minutes of your day can make a big difference in your blood circulation, digestion and metabolism. That means you get to enjoy life much longer.



The world is being saturated with too many weight loss plans that keep you from enjoying your food. Be honest with your body. Choose options over restrictions and have fun eating.



Not to sound too commercial but check the link to read more about this topic in
Why the Chinese don't count calories by Lorraine Clissold. I'm still trying to source the book but from the preview, it gives the whole nine. In the mean time I have to go figure out a new book to write....