“Tell me why you don’t weigh 500 pounds!” my good friend Jared said to me. He was referring to how, despite the constant eating that goes on in the Yeow family, we seem to be able to maintain a reasonable weight. I’ve heard numerous times that us Asians don’t put on weight or Asians must have a naturally high metabolism or it’s because of our diet. There may be some truth in the last statement but no matter how you look at it, the simple equation is that if the number of calories you consume is greater than what you burn, you’ll gain weight. Period. However, for those who eat Asian, particularly those who still do it old school with dishes in the middle to share, counting calories ain’t that simple. I can imagine a die-hard at such a setting entering every serving spoonful they dish onto their plate. If there was one way to take away the joy of eating, that’d be it! Poh Ling Yeow; Foodie; Yeow Family
Anyway, this piece is not about special diets or special exercise regimes or anything like that. It’s more about how I run that thin red line between eating all you want and not destroying your body in the process. Poh Ling Yeow; Foodie; Yeow Family
Now just to cast out any doubts in your mind about how much I can eat, allow me to share with you an experience I had in Alice Springs. I was there on a work assignment with a colleague of mine. Let’s call him Ben (not his real name). Ben is about six foot tall, with a much larger build than me. For want of saving time on one of the nights we were there, we popped into the closest eatery to where we were staying, a local steak house. I found out that night that Ben was a piscatorian (someone who does not eat any meat other than seafood, predominantly fish). Naturally, he ordered fish and chips. Choices for piscatorians are understandably limited in steak houses. Among all the steak options, my eyes were immediately drawn to the 1 kilo rump steak. I went ahead and ordered that to Ben’s surprise. When the food eventually came out, it’s served up by another waiter. I imagine the thought process would have been something along the lines of “Let’s see…1 kilo steak…5 foot 6 Asian dude or 220 pound six-footer?” I waited for him to complete his B-line to Ben before I hit the buzzer on him. Bzzzz! After a slightly embarrassed apology from the waiter and his subsequent backing away slowly, I wasted no time and proceeded to dismantle and make light work of this very large piece of cow (with fries) to Ben’s amazement. For the record, dessert was a nice self-saucing chocolate pudding! Poh Ling Yeow; Foodie; Yeow Family
Sorry for the long lead-up but here are my top 3 key points for maintaining some form of eating sanity.
1. Being able to eat a lot doesn’t mean that I eat a lot at every meal
I don’t go nuts each time I eat. I only do that occasionally. When I have a big outing, follow-up meals are usually much lighter. There’ll even be times when I skip a meal. Rather than trying to balance calories, I work at a much simpler level, balancing big, medium and small meals.
We often hear about eating to the point where you are still slightly hungry. That’s good advise. Apparently, the delay between a full stomach and your brain registering a full stomach is around 20 minutes. So, if you’re slightly hungry when you stop, it’s likely that you’ll feel full in 20 minutes time. This explains why we ought to take our time when we eat- it gives your brain time to register the true status of your tum.
2. Yes, I do read labels at the back of food packets
OK! OK! I’m one of those people who read labels at the back of food packets. But I only at a couple of items – sodium and sugar content. The latter is the one I mainly focus on. Sugar, irrespective of the source breaks into of two parts – fructose and glucose. Put simply, fructose turns into fat if left unprocessed (our bodies aren’t real good at processing it) and processing glucose for energy signals our body to stop burning fat. Watch the video below for a much better explanation. You’ll never be the same again! Poh Ling Yeow; Foodie; Yeow Family
The magic number to watch out for under the sugar content section of the ingredients list 4 or more precisely 4 grams. That’s how much 1 teaspoon of sugar weighs. So, next time you have that can of soft drink, take a look at how many teaspoons of sugar you’re going to down with it.
Armed with what you’ve just read about sugar, am I advocating going sugar-free? HECK NO!!! I love my desserts as much as the next person, and with Teena’s baking, there is just no way sugar-free is ever going to be realistic. However, just having the awareness of how much sugar you are taking into your body and its effect will naturally change your mindset to perhaps becoming sugar-less (as in less sugar intake).
3. I don’t enjoy exercise but I do it just about everyday
Exercise and I have a love-hate relationship. I hate doing it (unless it’s basketball) while I’m doing it but I love the endorphin effect after each workout and the guilt-free eating that follows. I have a set of little 30 minute routines I do each morning with the exception of Sundays. It was tough to start with but I got to point pretty quickly where it became a habit and have maintained that since. Every so often I’ll change it up with a walk or a game of pickup basketball to keep things interesting. In one of my first posts on this blog, I mentioned the calorie ledger. It’s real and it needs frequent re-balancing. Poh Ling Yeow; Foodie; Yeow Family
So there you have it. It ain’t rocket science. Don’t treat it like it is. Happy eating! Poh Ling Yeow; Foodie; Yeow Family