Monday, 3 January 2011

Between You and Me

I am a Malaysian. Like any other Malaysians out there, we have one thing in common; we really know how to eat. Oh yeah, that's a Malaysian thing to do. Believe it or not everything is surrounded by food even in the month of Ramadhan! And yes, we know what tastes good and what is not. It is very hard to stay healthy in Malaysia being constantly tempted by good and cheap food every single day of our life. There are daily hawker centers, food courts, night markets, restaurants, and stalls all along the streets and highways. Owh not to mention that the night market operated every night at different spots approximately 3-5 km apart and some restaurants open until the wee hours. Yeah! It is Thanksgiving everyday in Malaysia.

It feels really funny talking about Malaysia when I am actually somewhere else because I feel like I am talking from experience. Duh!! However, I am quite grateful that I am here, a country that is deprived of good food because that way I can have my calorie intake and my weight in check. One more thing, I can actually reflect on my eating habit back in Malaysia because there is no such distraction towards food here. Do you know what I mean? I feel like I am in a diet camp or something where there is no breakfast like nasi lemak or supper like roti canai provided. Zilch! Of course, there is not a moment that I do not miss Malaysian food. It is just that, every time I feel like having Nasi lemak or nasi dagang for breakfast and thinking how much hassle it is going to cause me just for breakfast alone, I waived the idea to the back of my head and finally decided to have toast and jam with fruit yogurt instead. Nasi Lemak is a delicacy here, not to mention that I have to prepare it myself, and that means we just get to have it like once every 4 months.

Honestly speaking, there are a lot of healthy food choices in Malaysia, however, how often does a consumer chooses wisely? Most will be drawn to oily, gooey, sweet, and creamy food. That is a general understanding of good and delicious food among Malaysians. Ever heard of a saying 'Too much of something is not a good thing'? So, why don't we beat the stereotypical idea of good food for a change? I'm not a dietitian or a nutritionist but these tips have helped my husband lost a significant 10 kg. Hungry for change? Here's what you can do:
  1. You must first realize that you have to do something about yourself or else what you are going to read here will be just a passing cloud and nothing more.
  2. Try to eat just breakfast, lunch and dinner. Skip tea or the late night fatty and sweet snacks. Unless, you are a tourist, it is excusable.
  3. If you are eating out, choose wisely. Instead of Nasi Lemak or Nasi Dagang, or Nasi Minyak for breakfast, try Pau Kacang, Pau Kaya, Pau Kari, Popia Basah, Bihun Goreng, putu piring, soft-boiled eggs, laksam, apam balik or steamed keropok lekor. For lunch and dinner, choose soup or less oily dish; asam pedas, singgang, tofu (moderate portion) and team your rice with lots of vegetables on the side. If you had a heavy lunch at work, try to have a light dinner with wholesome fried rice, char kuay teow, bihun sup or bihun tomyam. It’s actually better to a have light dinner than otherwise.
  4. At the beginning or the end of every meal, always make it a habit to eat freshly peeled and cut tropical fruits. Papaya, mango, ciku, oranges, guava, dragon fruit, pomelo, or anything. Being an Asian, the closest thing we ever get to a dessert is freshly cut fruits but what we might not know is that it is actually healthier than eating sugar loaded desserts.
  5. If you feel like snacking, skip the potato chips mumbo jumbo, and eat your fruits. Never runs out of fruits.
  6. Diversify. Eat more soy products like tempe, tau fu fah and tofu. They are very good for you. They are so many dishes you can make from them and it’s cheap. Plus you can snack on them and do not have to worry about calories.
  7. On your next Pasar Malam trip, try to avoid fried food. Ask for laksa, yong tau foo, apam balik, jelly kelapa or nasi kerabu with more ‘ulam’. There are plenty. All you have to do is just look.
  8. Avoid fast food. I used to be a double cheeseburger die-hard fan. When I looked back, I said to myself, with all the cheaper and better food out there, how could I have eaten that? I don’t know about you, but the aftermath of eating fast food always left me feeling so heavy and weigh down. So for me, it’s never a good feeling.
  9. Be a Pescetarian for a week once in a month. You’ll feel more rejuvenated afterwards.
  10. Exercise for your heart. This is the hardest part even for us. For first timers, try to take a brisk walk 3 times a week for 30 minutes. Then, develop your stamina bit by bit. Never force yourself overboard. The time will come when you know you can run 30 minutes non-stop. It is just a matter of time.
You might say that you don’t need all of these because you are already skinny no matter what you eat. I have to remind you that diabetes or heart disease does not discriminate on your body size and weight. Believe it or not, you can actually be skinny while having a beyond normal blood cholesterol reading. I’ve been in that place over a year ago. I decided to change, what about you? Reward yourself once in a while with some ice cream or a seafood dinner with family. Just be sure to always practice moderation.
P.S. Feel free to give more suggestions.

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