How to Diet As An Asian

Words By: Oriana Cuenca

Asian food is amazing. Diverse cultures and long culinary traditions have given us so many unique flavours today. From the mild elegance of Japanese food to the fiery dishes of Thailand, Asians are blessed with more choices than we could think of. With such mouth watering cuisines all around us, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a diet on this side of the world. Not only are the dishes delicious, most tend to come with white rice, a grain that comes with 45g of carbohydrates per cup. For those who at least try to eat healthy, it is soon discovered that most of the healthy recipes online and western, and do not come with the sauces and spices we’ve been spoiled on. After all the challenges for the Asian on diet, here are five doable tips to lose some fat while still eating dishes we love.

5. Cut back on the snacks 

Asisan dramas have the bad habit of advertising food on their shows. It’s twice as hard to resist temptation when you just saw your favourite character munching on those chips, but you have to endure. Snacking can easily add up without us realizing, and you need to be very conscious of what you eat when you’re on a diet.

On the bright side, snacks are one of the few Asian foods that have a clear list of calories and ingredients, so it would be safe to snack occasionally when you know your diet for the day can afford it.

4. One “bad” meal a day

Sometimes a bowl of ramen or a plate of xiao long bao just looks far too irresistible. This is the sign you’ve been waiting for: Don’t resist. But you need careful planning first.

The idea of one “bad” meal a day means you get one meal with all the flavours and calories you’ve been craving, but the other two meals must show some restraint. For example: If you plan on getting a hearty plate of adobo for lunch, then breakfast is going to look like a bowl of oatmeal, and dinner will have to be a vinaigrette salad.

It’s also important to limit the portion sizes of that one indulgent meal. It’s not a diet when you eat all 3000 calories in one sitting, but there’s nothing wrong with a dumpling or two every now and then.

3. Add Cauliflower Rice to your diet 

Rice is life for just about everyone on this side of the world, but we all know it could be a huge contributor to weight gain. Like what’s been said before, you do not have to give up white rice entirely, but you might want to save it for one meal a day or one day a week if you can manage it.

Introducing, cauliflower rice. Cauliflower rice is lightly roasted or sauteed shredded cauliflower sometimes flavored with garlic or spices. It (vaguely) looks like the beloved white rice, and it’s far healthier and contains very few calories and carbs. There are many easy recipes for preparing cauliflower rice on the internet, and you can customize it to your taste.

For those on a very strict diet, cauliflower rice is your best bet. But if you can’t be parted from real rice, then consider a portion of red or brown rice with some cauliflower rice mixed in. The cauliflower rice will lessen the amount of rice you’re actually eating but will keep you just as full. Plus, it’s a great way to sneak in more vegetables into your diet!

2. Kimchi. 

That’s it. That’s the tip. By 2030, Koreans are expected to live the longest among all the other nationalities, and some studies are saying that Kimchi plays a big role in that. A side dish made of fermented napa cabbage, the process of creating Kimchi develops a good bacteria called lactobacillus (often found in yogurt) that aids in digestion by converting sugars and carbohydrates into lactic acid. Good bacteria is also what gives Kimchi its signature tangy taste.

Kimchi isn’t on this list just for its outstanding health benefits. This side dish also has great flavour with very low calories. When healthy meals start becoming bland, a serving of Kimchi can brighten up the flavours.

1.Plan you’re eat-out days 

Meals are a very social occasions in Asia. It feels alienating to sit and watch as everyone is passing around dishes or turning the lazy susan while you stare longingly at the lechon. This is a big reason why the tips here focus on limiting  unhealthy eating instead of removing it entirely. Food is far too integral to our culture to simply ignore, so it’s better to plan and work around all the social gatherings instead of avoiding them entirely.

If you know you’re going to KBBQ for dinner, then eat light and exercise well for the rest of the day. If there’s a big family gathering coming up, take your workouts a notch higher the weeks before.

Don’t forget to make healthier choices when you eat out too. You don’t have to pass from a brunch with friends, but try to order dishes for yourself that lean on the healthy side. Popular restaurants usually have their calories listed somewhere on the internet. Do your research, and you won’t have to sacrifice your social life for your waistline.

+1. Cut back on Milk Tea 

No. (But just remember, one single pearl is already roughly 7 calories. Just some food for thought)

Everyone has their own style of dieting that works for them. Some prefer the high fat and low carb Paelo and Keto while others would rather go the calorie deficit approach. The important thing is to find a diet that you can sustain in the long run. Most people cut out all the things they love (read: Milk tea and Rice) and make themselves miserable very early on. The diet that works for you is the one that can make you both happy with your body and happy with your life. Food is life in Asia, and no diet should get in the way of that.


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