Why the Chinese Don't Count Calories
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A favourite Chinese greeting is Ni chi fan le ma? - Have you eaten yet? Unlike many in the West, the Chinese see food not as a chore to prepare and source of unwanted calories, but a health-giving pleasure. In 16 short, captivating chapters, Lorraine Clissold explains why the Chinese can eat as much as they want without worrying about their weight. With examples and recipes, Lorraine shows how the Chinese balance their diet by satisfying their taste buds with five flavours, by eating a mixture of staple foods and carefully prepared dishes, and by making sure they eat the right proportions of solids, liquids and hot and cold foods.
added tactically at the last moment, along with other seasonings, adds the depth of taste needed to let the vegetables carry the meal. If you begin to eat lightly cooked vegetables on the scale that they are consumed in China, and let them replace the processed and prepared foods in your diet, you won’t need to concern yourself with your fat and salt intakes – believe me. Chinese people have based meals around vegetables for thousands of years and have perfected the art of cooking them. Not a
dish it is not served at the end but is just another element in a balanced meal. A delicacy particularly enjoyed during the lantern festival which takes place at the end of the Chinese New Year week is tang yuan, small balls made of glutinous rice flour and stuffed with all manner of delicacies, from sesame seeds to red bean paste to chocolate; another is basi pingguo, a sort of hot toffee-apple. My children love this, and never complain when it arrives on the table midway through a meal. More
practice has been adopted by food manufacturers who use salt as a preservative in sweet products and create overprocessed versions of flavour combinations which at first appear satisfying but leave the body feeling cheated. Lemon or blueberry muffins taste good because they are sweet and sour, but the large amount of sugar used in commercial recipes also hides incredibly high levels of salt. Cheating nature in this way will not result in a well-balanced body; the equivalent Chinese meal would be
stomach, is lingering and hard to shift. So, every time we eat a salad, we create excess stomach fire, which can prevent the spleen/stomach from doing their important jobs of digesting food and distributing nutrients. Continued consumption of raw food will gradually damage the stomach qi and make it unable to balance its own climate and prevent its associated element, dampness, from becoming too strong. As dampness gets out of balance, wind, the climatic condition that tones the spleen/stomach,
rumbling of the intestines, diarrhoea and vomiting. Yet it is also capable of dispersing what is known as ‘superficial heat’ (near the body’s surface), so is great for nausea and travel sickness. By eliminating poisons it helps to make food safe to eat and was particularly valued prior to refrigeration. Chillies also promote digestion and dispel cold. Another property of garlic is to counteract toxic effects; if Chinese people feel that the hygiene standards in a restaurant are poor they will