Category Archives: Nutrition

My views on Food/Diet in Asia

I have just returned to the United States from a vacation in Hong Kong. This blog is about one thing that stood out to me immediately and continuously every day I was there. I was in awe about most things I saw and experienced, but daily my nutrition and fitness centered mind could not get over this one thing-

That is- the size of Asians.

It’s hard not to notice that most people there are incredibly skinny, especially in comparison to the average American. The difference in body types was ground deeper when  shopping for clothing. I found myself having to try on clothes in a size larger, instead of my usual size.  Then of course while walking around in my 2 piece training swim suit at the fitness center pool, I can’t help but compare myself to others and feel overweight.

During my visit I asked questions and also researched the web. But mostly I was a part of this culture that is smaller and healthier than Americans. I came to these conclusions based on findings and experience.  Much of what accounts for why Asians are generally more slender and healthier than Americans — who are currently dealing with widespread obesity and the diseases associated with it — lies in the differences in diet. By comparing the eating habits in the U.S and East Asia (China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan), we can understand why and how the typical Asian diet can translate into a healthier lifestyle.

Looking at the general types of foods consumed on a regular day in East Asia vs. USA:

Asian Breakfast:  White rice, fermented vegetables (kimchi), seaweed, eggs, Chinese vegetables, soymilk, hot tea

USA Breakfast: Cereal with milk, eggs, cheese, bagel with butter or cream cheese, toast, jelly, pancakes, waffles, syrup, sausage, pastries, donuts, coffee, juice

Asian Lunch: White rice, Chinese vegetables, meat (very different than USA meat), a variation of noodles (rice, yam or mung bean), sushi or sashimi, water or hot tea

USA Lunch: Sandwiches with lunchmeats (turkey, ham, roast beef, etc.),pizza,  salads with meats, cheese, dressings, pasta, coke, sweet iced tea

Asian Dinner: White rice, fish, tofu, soup, pork/duck or chicken, Chinese vegetables, hot tea

USA Dinner: Pasta, pot roast, fried or baked chicken,  pork chops, steak, burgers, hot dogs, BBQ,  peas, corn, broccoli, potatoes, bread, coke, beer

Asian Dessert: Fresh fruit, dried fruit, rice crackers, green tea ice cream, milk tea

USA Dessert:   Chips, cookies, cake, ice cream, frozen yogurt, pie or pastries, candy bars

 

From the notes above, we see that the main ingredient in the Asian diet seems to be white rice. According to the web, rice provides 25% to 80% of the calories in the daily diet of 2.7 billion Asians. It’s typically eaten with every meal, in the form of steamed, sticky rice. As author Jason Bussell of “The Asian Diet: Simple Secrets for Eating Right, Losing Weight, and Being Well” explains , “White rice is the most hypo-allergenic, easily-assimilated and energetically neutral of the grains. Since it’s so easy to digest, rice can be eaten frequently throughout the day. On the other hand, the main ingredient for Americans is bread, which in large amounts causes carb-overload and unnecessary weight gain”.

 

Besides food products, a major contribution to the healthy diet of Asians comes from their frequent consumption of tea, particularly green, oolong or black .They have hot tea throughout the day. Its health benefits have long been lauded, as it contains antioxidants that help to prevent diseases. In the U.S., on the other hand, coffee, soda (diet soda) and very sweet iced tea whose health benefits are often questionable, remains the preferred source of caffeine.

Have you ever been in to a restaurant with no bathrooms, no napkins, and chop sticks for utensils? Not in this Country. How do they do it? Maybe gluttony is an American tradition. I noticed that while Americans usually eat from separate dishes and each person gets their own food( especially when dining out),   Asians are accustomed to family-style dishes, where there is typically one small dish of each food group on the table for everyone to share. Instead of having to finish one’s plate, Asians are more concerned with consuming bite size portions of various types of dishes, which consist mostly of vegetables.  I experienced this every evening, and never consumed more than my usual healthy amount of calories per meal, leaving the table well satisfied, not wanting more.

Overall, Asians mostly consume foods that are lower in carbohydrates, sugars and Tran’s fats. Sweets and processed foods are rarely ever eaten in Asia. Did you get that? Processed foods. The biggest issue  I have had with food over the years is almost nonexistent over there.

With high mortality rates and lower cases of heart diseases among Asians (particularly the Japanese), it’s no secret that the traditional Asian diet has numerous benefits both physically by helping maintain a healthy weight and internally. Just as a reference point, I searched the web and found that the obesity rate in Japan for instance is 3.9%, in the USA it is 33.2%! WOW!

Though it’s easy to eat as Americans do, given we live in the states, around tons of tempting foods, I have had no desire to indulge since I have been home. I am in a weird place right now regarding food. I have been to a local Asian market and purchased several Asian veggies and have been consuming them daily. I still cannot eat meat and sweets like before. I lost weight while I was there actually, and am maintaining with no problems or desires to eat more or differently. I will adhere to the “Asian” way of eating for as long as I desire to.

Maybe you should give it a try, since it seems to be working out quite well for a few billion people halfway across the world! Maybe we have to create our own world inside the land of the free and decide, what’s more important?  Living a life around foods that ultimately destroy us, or living life eating foods that will help us look and feel better?  We decide.

Happy Eating,

Coach Wendy

Wheat Free March

After completing a successful sugar free February, I want to continue to get leaner and healthier for Spring. To keep in my DSC043682.jpgcompetitive spirit, I came up with “Wheat Free March”.

Flashback two years ago, My 38 year old half- sister had an unexpected heart attack. She was overweight, smoked and did not exercise. The Drs. blamed it on genetics, but no one on that side of the family had heart disease, so I am not sure how that all was rationalized. I do know one thing, being overweight meant her diet was terrible. It really was. Was that the cause? I will never know, but all I can do is pray to God those so -called genetics didn’t trickle over to me. If they did, I will do everything in my power to not allow anything into my body (via food) that would obviously cause heart disease.

The more I study, the more I am seeing Medical doctors writing about the links between sugar, cancer and heart disease. That is one reason I felt so strongly to lead people through a no sugar month. Recently after reading the book “Wheat Belly”, I am learning about a connection  with wheat products (ie. processed foods) raising insulin levels as much as sugar, thereby causing the same effects on the body as sugar—which lead to a higher risk of cancer or heart disease.

It’s not quite mainstream media yet, but with more medical doctors being on TV and some others with great websites being so well recognized and followed, I believe our health care system will eventually follow suit and start spreading the word about the awful foods we continue to put into our mouth on a daily basis.

Just last week my 68 year old Aunt had an unexpected heart attack. The cause? All we know is she is overweight and eats lots of that awful food. She will be changing her eating habits immensely this week, hopefully for the rest of her life.

Yes, my sister and my Aunt both lived through their heart attack experience, and now they officially have heart disease. BUT they both have the option to change their lifestyle- eating properly and exercising, or just stay the same. The choice is theirs alone.  Just like the choice is mine alone what to put in my mouth daily. This month I choose to go wheat free. I hope many join me on this journey. It may be hard to do, but it can’t hurt and chances are if we adopt the new style of eating, it may prolong our life and definitely make us look and feel healthier while living it!

Five more days of NO sugar

I am going to be doing some writing this week regarding not only the end of the official sugar detox , but what do we do next?

I hope for those of you who followed along, you realized some things. and for those of you who tried to follow along, I hope you realized some things too. After all- this is all about getting heathy inside and out. Not necessarily losing weight, although that is a by product of sugar free, it is not my main goal.

The book “Wheat Belly” which I am almost done with, will probably lead me to “Wheat Free March.” I have to sit down and finish the book. But I am thinking this is where my March will be headed. I hope I have some suggestions.

Someone asked me if I already had eliminated wheat- because they never saw it in my meal plans. My answer- “well most wheat is in processed foods” (when was the last time you chewed on raw wheat?) And most processed foods have sugar in them, so therefore – no wheat. Now I suppose I could eat Kamut for a cereal in the morning, and possibly wheat free bread,  but I didnt. I really didn’t eat any starches at all in Feb. I  wanted to eliminate any possibililty of my body having any insulin surges after pushing my blood sugar past the normal “post meal” point. (I think that would be in the 80’s-90’s if measured?) I know blood sugar levels and insulin is the big issue we are trying to control going sugar free, but now I am finding that to be true also  in wheat consumption. (learning from the book) So this leads me to pondering March.

This is what I know so far (not finished with the book yet). I will be adding Quinoa to my diet, continue with the squash, and rutabaga(I love that stuff) and add sweet potatoes and maybe a white potato here and there. When it comes to rice– call me crazy but I opt for the white rather than brown rice ( I can hear the squeels now) Listen, when was the last time you saw Sushi wrapped in brown rice?? I LOVE Sushi and when I go out I get a roll or two wrapped in cucumber, but also a roll or two in white rice. So that with an occaisional plain rice cake sometimes completes my rice consumption.

Before I finish this post I want to shout out to my friend Phillip Henderson. He will be opening a franchise in Gainesville, Florida on March 10th called “How Do You Roll“. Guess what they make??? SUSHI! The guys who own the franchise were on the show Shark Tank last week, and I do believe from what I saw,  this store will be the only one in Florida! I will be planning on going to the grand opening and eating lots of sushi- with white rice! So that all said, I look forward to finshing the book  and coming up with my March meal plan layout. Lets get through this last week of Sugar free February together. Enjoy the week!

Coach Wendy on Nutrition in Schools

My Prayer for Children

I saw a news report that childhood obesity and type II Diabetes in children is on the rise- rapidly. And they (whoever they are) are trying to “decide” what to do!! Apparently a little school in Georgia came up with the idea of sugar -free schools. Can I get an AMEN out there? They showed this school in Georgia that has been sugar free for 10 years….. Now where the heck has every other school been during this 10 year time? The kids at this school have been proven to be smarter, in better shape (duh) and have less discipline problems across the board. How long does it take to figure it out??  A few years ago, I was told, when trying to assist in a nutrition program for Florida schools that they cannot remove vending machines from schools because of the MONEY they generate! I think my jaw hit the table as I was trying to keep my composure at a meeting I was attending. Believe me, I said all I could, the discussion lasted a while, but because of the power of the $$$ , people just blew me off as the local YMCA health nut. They had this attitude that things are so bad in local schools with budget cuts already that they would be better off to prostitute student’s future health for money. I was livid, but had absolutely no influence. Believe me; I had a voice in our area regarding children and obesity. I visited schools yearly and talked to kids about exercise and nutrition. I promoted free kids exercise programs at our Y that encouraged kids to learn activities that they can participate in for a lifetime. I sat down with parents from time to time and got personal with them about what they are feeding their children. I tried unsuccessfully to start a physical education program for kids who are home schooled.  This was a big part of my job and I took it seriously, but my hands were tied with exactly what I was able to do.

Anyway- what gets me is what parents feed their kids, then the kids are at school 7 hours a day and schools destroy any chance of healthy Wendy's post foodthat they may have. So back to sugar free schools. Let’s see how long it takes for more schools to catch on, but believe me, you watch, it will all be about $$$..and then years from now …well, I could go on forever…So I will end by saying this to all the people  who have kids, once you get your “back to health” routine going, please don’t leave your kid out of it. Even if they are little skinny kids- and the Dr. says they need to fatten up, don’t allow them to start making unhealthy habits that will destroy them later in life. I know you think they need sweet “treats” for whatever reason, but you are setting the stage for them to turn into what you are trying to get out of. Make sure they eat right and exercise. You can do it- and they will love being able to be like mom or dad. This is one of my passions, and I have an audience here on the web that can help plant more seeds than I could from a small town gym.

My prayers are for kids everywhere to get the start they need to establish healthy lifestyles. It will be healthy parents who promote this. Thanks for listening.