How Chinese People Stay Slim

by Khushboo on April 21, 2015

Hey guys!  I can’t believe how quickly these past 2 weeks have flown by and my trip to Guangzhou is coming to a close.  I feel an onset of separation anxiety already creeping up at the thought of saying goodbye to Sameer…thank the lawd for FaceTime, even if I’m the one doing all the talking ;)

Sameer in Cacoon

Nephew aside, I’m also going to miss the food here. All the delicious greens, stir-fries, seafood, noodles, dim sum, I totally embraced Oriental food.  Speaking of food, I had a few conversations during my trip about how Chinese people stay slim & healthy despite the food traditionally eaten…especially given how most of it is frowned upon in the West:

  • White rice: Refined carbs are believed to cause abdominal weight gain & diabetes
  • Pork: High-fat red meats tend to be high in saturated fat which affects heart health
  • Soy sauce: Full of gluten & sodium

I wrote a similar post on How French Women Stay Slim last year and it’s interesting how different cultures have in-built eating habits that make healthy living work for them, rather than vice versa.  While I could be wrong, these are merely my observations on how Chinese people stay slim & healthy:

  • Cooking methods: While I’ve seen a few deep-fried dishes on restaurant menus, most of the options are steamed, sautéed, pan-fried, or boiled.

Prawn & Chive Dumpling

  • Size of crockery: Chinese crockery seems to help with instant portion bowl- for example, a rice bowl holds ¼ – 1/3 the volume that an American bowl would hold.  Even the takeaway portions have been noticeably smaller (but filling enough) than I would even get in London…so you can only imagine how they measure up to American portion sizes. 
  • Excessive tea consumption during/between meals: While I remain skeptic about the claims that green/Chinese tea burns fat, it does certainly help fill you up for zero calories.  Often times, hunger is masked as dehydration which leads to unnecessary overeating.  Also while tea is drunk all day, the idea of adding milk/cream/sugar or eating a side of biscuits is not really a done thing.  

  Grilled Salmon with Chinese Greens

  • Use of chopsticks as cutlery: Expert or not, there’s only so much you can fit in each bite.  Along with portion size, this also helps with pacing your meal, and it’s no surprise that eating slower can help reduce the risk of overeating: it usually takes up to 20 minutes for the brain to process feelings of fullness. 
  • Ordering style is almost always family-style i.e. sharing of dishes.  This automatically gives diners a variety of both healthy and not-so-healthy dishes.  Even if fried rice contains more oil than steamed rice, pairing it with sautéed greens & a some steamed fish helps balance out the overall meal. 

While there is no perfect diet, I think it’s safe to say that shunning certain foods/cuisines completely is a bit ridiculous.  Food needs to be taken into context in terms of what the rest of the individual’s diet consists of, portion size & method of preparation.  Despite the bad rep Chinese food tends to receive, clearly we can learn a thing or 2 from this culture’s style of eating. 

How does your culture approach food/diet?

Are there any foods that receive a bad rep which you still eat?

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