Asian dietary practices and a long life
06 Jul 2015
The Asian diet revolves around wellness.
That is the vein that connects Asian cooking, said herbalist Cathy Margulin on Huffington Post.
In contrast, noted Tracey Roizman of SF Gate, the American diet that conjures up images of generous chops of barbecue, loads burger and French fries is among the unhealthiest in the world.
She even said that the rather alluring diet has contributed to the whopping numbers in obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Meanwhile, longevity and health are bywords in the Asian kitchen.
If you do not want to fall to degenerative disease, therefore, you might want to consider some dietary practices in Asia.
1. More soup, please
A shared practice would be the high regard for broth. Several cultures would boil proteins or bones for hours only to empty their flavours and nutrients into the soup. The generous addition of vegetables only reinforces each sip with vitamins and minerals.
The soup would fill you up easily, so you wouldn’t need to load up on the meat and even carbohydrates. Try the Filipino sinigang or the Vietnamese staple pho!
2. Eat your vegetables
If you think about Asian food, we’re pretty sure you’re also seeing vegetables, because no continent follows the food pyramid more than this.
Many nations are aware of the medicinal value of vegetables, like bitter gourd to combat diabetes or calamansi to boost the immune system, for example. Just so there’s still vegetable on the table, some would just steam or boil veggies, such as cabbage.
For many countries, even, vegetables are placed not only for their nutritional benefits, but also for their aesthetic value—carrots or even tomato to lend color to your entree. Even the bitter gourd can make it to the breakfast omelette.
3. Better snacks, anyone?
Snack time for many would mean opening a pack of junk food, perhaps while watching a show on TV. But better snack options, even healthier chips, can be had in Asia.
You can leave the salt-rich chips and opt for chips from sliced taproot, banana or fried seaweed, among others. You can also chomp on nuts, boiled or cooked in oil, and snacks made with the seeds of the sunflower, squash or watermelon..
Religion tells many of us what we should and should not do, including what goes in your mouth.
Asia has a long list of religious beliefs. Hindus consider cows sacred, and therefore do not eat them. Muslims do not eat pork. Taoism has taught many Chinese to eat based on what their body needs.
We’re not telling you to subscribe to these beliefs, but we’re suggesting that you can actually watch what you eat. Look at the nutritional facts, for a start. If you have been told to avoid fat for health reasons, abstain from buying food items that have it. If you are having a difficult bowel movement, maybe try eating more fruits and vegetables.
5. Respect your food
Asian dining can be very traditional, with etiquette forbidding several practices.
In the Philippines, for example, kids are taught to not leave even a grain of steamed rice on their plate, or worse drop some on the table or on the floor. In countries that use chopsticks, it is absolute disrespect to poke dumplings, sushi and other delicacies with a chopstick. In many countries, the proper thing to do is eat what you place on your plate.
Again, we’re not suggesting that you subscribe to all these, but a culture of respecting the food could get you thinking about leftover food, or eating the fruits and vegetables before you because of the hands that picked them out and prepared them for you.
Written by: Vaughn Geuseppe Alviar