We all know: “Health is not simply the absence of sickness.” — Hannah Green
Consider ways to eat what you enjoy and enjoy what you eat by following these Asian Diet secrets.
This list has been perfected and practiced for centuries.
To paraphrase Sun Simiao, the great Chinese physician in the sixth century, one wastes the skill of a great physician if one does not first consider the food he or she are eating. This is still true today. Consider also when you eat and how you eat as you read the tips below.
11 Asian Diet Habits
#1. Limit Drinks, Especially Cold Drinks With Meals
Americans have a bad habit of drinking a cold glass of water or soda with meals. Changing this habit alone will create better digestion of food. Limit fluid intake with your meals and you will stop diluting your digestive enzymes which are so important for proper digestion. Green tea or other hot teas before a meal supports enzymatic activity and helps enhance your digestive abilities. It’s best to add liquids 30 minutes before or after meals, not during.
#2. Enjoy Soup Often
Soup is a nutrient dense food and fills you up quickly. You don’t need much, just a half cup is beneficial. Most Asian soups are made with bones and/or combinations of vegetables so you’re getting lots of vitamins and minerals even with a small portion. Whether it is bone broth soup, vegetable or miso, soups are rich in vitamins and minerals and easily absorbed. Secondly, but equally important is that the warm temperature of soup (like tea) can improve the entire digestive process.
#3. Eat a 3:1 Ratio Vegetables to Meat
3:1 means three times the amount of vegetables to the amount of meat. The meat and potato American diet does not make much room for vegetables on the plate. In fact, the favorite American vegetable, potatoes, (i.e., French fries) should be replaced with sweet potatoes if you absolutely can’t live without that starch. Better still, consider vegetables with bitter flavors. Give radishes, radicchio and bitter melon a spot on your plate.
#4. Small Plates and Chopsticks
Small serving bowls and small plates are a great way to eat smaller portions. I love to mix up attractive small plates and bowls in different shapes and sizes. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing to eat from these but it helps you eat smaller portions. Chopsticks are another easy way to avoid the shovel techniques of eating. For the average American inexperienced chopstick user, they are guaranteed to slow down your rate of consumption and give your stomach time to send the message to your brain that you’re full and it’s time to stop eating.
#5. Rice Combining
Rice combinations like black, brown, red, or even purple rice are nutritionally denser than white or brown alone. (The best is unpolished/less processed rice, because it is rich in B vitamins.) Rice is eaten to supplement the meal in Asia, not a main course. Rice has always been a popular carbohydrate, cheap to grow and easy to transport and store. But as a carbohydrate it is converted into sugar during the digestive process. This means it can cause a dramatic effect in our glycemic index. This is good for fast energy, but bad if you want to avoid blood sugar fluctuations and bad for those who are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Rice combinations are less starchy therefore less sugar conversion and lower in calories.
#6. Not Every Night Is Dessert Night
My kids will tell you from the time they were very little if they asked about dessert, my standard answer was “tonight is not dessert night.” Admittedly, this didn’t work so well past the age of 7, but it’s still a great rule of thumb. If you must have dessert make it fruit. Fruit is nutritious and delicious and a common Asian dessert. Cut and serve it up in a fun and interesting way to make it that much more exciting. Sugary cakes, cookies and ice cream can be for special celebrations only.