Jul 24

Fatty's Chinese Kitchen as seen by wickedsmile.blogspot.comBack in the days, when still living in Germany, I used to eat very irregularly. 4 days a week on the road, you just stuff anything edible in your mouth. Mostly things like Fast Food, Pizza and some ‘German Classics’ like Doener Kebab or Currywurst.

Needless to say I always had a bit more pounds on my hips than necessary. Usually 5-10, but up to 20 pounds during the worst of times. And I didn’t have much to do for that.

Surprisingly, all that excess meat miraculously disappeared shortly after I moved to Asia, again without too much work. Here are my lessons learned you can apply to your day to day diet as well:

When coming to Asia it’s very obvious for us Europeans or Americans, that most people here are very slim and not only due to a more slender frame or smaller figure. Asians generally only become more obese when switching to more western-style diets or eating plenty of fast food. Unfortunately that is an upcoming problem, with plenty of franchises and fast food chains mushrooming all over Asia. The Youth is partially neglecting their healthy eating habits and you can see more and more obese Asians as well, if not so many yet like in the Western world.

So what makes an Asian diet originally healthy and better for you? It’s actually very simple:

1. Eat fresh

Asian-style Fruit SaladThis is the most important lesson I learned in the last couple of years I live here. Avoid processed, packed or sealed food. Most Asians love to eat in small food stalls, warungs or snack corners, where food is freshly prepared and cooked only a few minutes. Fruit or veggies salads can be a healthy and delicious addition to your daily diet as well.

Like to cook yourself? Even better! You should get a Wok (a simple metal bowl to cook or short-stir-fry everything from meat, veggies and sauces together) and try that. Just add some oil, throw in some green vegetables, some rice or noodles, a bit of cut meat and some spices and you are set for a delicious and healthy meal without too many carbohydrates and calories.

2. Eat less but more often

I used to eat only 3 times a day, but huge ‘idiot’ portions. The reason? I thought I was too busy during the day to find time to eat.

So my meals consisted of heavy stuff like ham, bacon, plenty of eggs, butter, bread, potatoes, ketchup, heavy dark sauces and what else. The plate couldn’t be big enough – and if it wasn’t – it had to be filled at least twice.

Unfortunately the body had to digest it all in a very short time and naturally couldn’t do it, so it put aside some things for worse times to come.

Fresh All You Can Eat SushiNowadays I start with a small snack when waking up and eating up to 4-6 times during a day. Just most of the time it’s only small portions, a bit of cooked veggies, a soup to start the day, some sate sticks in the afternoon, an ice cream (better a sorbet) here, some corn stick there, some fresh fruits (someone has to eat all those pineapples, bananas, mangos and else) from the market or a coconut over there. Sushi or Dim Sum come in pretty small portions as well and serve you nicely as short in-between snacks.

You will be full easier and your body can digest and has to work the whole day, thus making for a better digestion and a good sleep later at night.

3. Eat slow

Asians love to take their time to eat. They sit relaxed leaned back, mostly in groups while eating and chat loudly the time away. A normal lunch break can take anything between 1-2 hours, more like the French do and they aren’t overweight too much either.

Asian Food Court Conversations.jpgFor a German or American this may all be a waste of time, but for your body it’s a pleasure. Because when you just stuff it with plenty of heavy foods in a very short time, it is simply shocked and doesn’t give you a signal early enough, that your stomach is actually already way past its capacity. Still you press food down your throat, while your stomach is actually preparing for throwing up or flushing it through the back door.

Isn’t it crazy how us Westerners have troubles listening to our stomachs? For me it was always funny to see that one of the most common surgeries is to clip your stomach smaller (gastric banding), so you will be full faster.

This effect can be achieved much easier, by eating way slower and using a meal to communicate with people and friends around you.

4. Eat less red meat

Yeah – we Westerners love to indulge in our steaks, sausages, pork ribs, wild deer and what else. That all tastes so good and fills us up pretty neat. After all we have cold winters and need some more fat on our ribs to bring us through it. For us meat is the main dish, the rest like veggies, potatoes or rice are mere garnish.

In Asia it’s the other way around!

Vietnamese Beef BowlThe everlasting heat in Asia makes it pretty easy to go a bit slower on all that heavy red and dark meat. Chicken and Fish are mostly consumed here instead and for a reason: it’s all much lighter, easier digested and doesn’t keep the body busy too long. Too much red meat can as well increase your risk for cancer or heart disease.

So what can you do to not only reduce those risks but also your red meat footprint?

What I loved to eat here is for instance Tofu. Back in Europe I didn’t even know what that is or that it existed.

Tofu is basically made of fermented Soya and can be cooked, fried or baked in different variations. My favorite is a local dish here called ‘Tempe Bacem’, which is fried tofu in thick, black, sweet soya sauce. It actually tastes like barbecued meat, but has almost no calories at all and is even healthy for you.

5. Drink a lot of the right drinks

That’s the easiest thing to do in Asia. It’s basically hot all day around and not only because of all the hot chicks here. The sun will help to remind you that it’s time to replenish again your liquids.

Green Tea a healthy alternative to carbonated soft drinksOkay, there are a lot of Expats who grab a beer or 2 to do just that. Nothing wrong with that if you aren’t too much concerned about your belly. But it’s no problem either to grab a cold green tea, again a coconut or just some bottle of water to feel the cold delight running down your throat.

Forget about carbonated soft drinks. They are full of sugar and will blow you up in no time.

Why do all those skinny supermodels drink liters of plain water all day? Because it fills you up, flushes out toxins and makes for a good, hydrated skin. It doesn’t even have to be Evian though. Thankfully good drinking water is usually very cheap in Asia, here in Bali a 21 liter gallon of Danone’s AQUA sets you back currently about Rp. 11.000, which is a bit more than 1 USD, but less than 1 Euro.

You can drink as well plenty of (any) tea, which has a similar effect and will be good for your health and wellbeing.


Asian Diet PyramidYou don’t have to live in Asia to live more healthy and shed some pounds the Asian way. Just follow the tips above or check out the pyramid to the right.

Yes, it’s easy like that. Just make sure you eat more regularly the right things and the heavy, sweet and more carbo stuff lesser.

The big advantage is: you will live much healthier and save a lot of money on top of it.

Freshly prepared meals are way cheaper here than processed or westernized food.

So why not go local and ease some pressure on your stomach, your hips and your purse?

If you want a more detailed reading about the Asian Diet, check out this article over here.

I also wrote some more posts about Asian food as well, here is one about healthy Javanese food, which is very affordable and popular in Indonesia. This one is about famous chef and Asian foodie Anthony Bourdain, who has cravings for delicious, unhealthy and heavy pork meat as well. And yep, I still owe our reader Epicurienne an article about the Top Ten of Asian foods, which will be one of the next posts. ;-)

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

or save article to your Facebook with 1 simple click:


written by Chris

20 Responses to “Hey Fatty! Get in Shape with these 5 Asian Diet Tips”

  1. EpicurienneNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Hey Chris, I LOVE this post! I’m always battling with a bit of excess weight because at home we love food and I’m always cooking… Now I’m going to print off your tips and try them out. Will let you know how I get on!

    Thanks for this and look forward to your top 10 Asian foods. (I’m hungry already)

  2. Debo HoboNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    OMG!!! When I read this post title I just knew you were talking about me. My feelings aren’t hurt though. These really are great tips because travel really can pack on the pounds because you have to try all the new things when and wherever you travel. :(( =))

  3. Taka's WorldNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Thanks for sharing this post……after coming to the UK, I have nearly doubled my size. Will surely follow your tips.

  4. Christine GilbertNo Gravatar SPAIN Says:

    This is true also in Europe. We walk everywhere, eat smaller meals and while we don’t cut out fat or red meat, all the walking burns it off. I’ve been here a month and my clothes are falling off of me! Fresh fruits and veggies all the way!

  5. Nomadic MattNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    This is very true. It’s a shame that so many people eat so unhealthy. In thailand, they eat a lot…all the time really but there food is healthy and they eat in small portions. I think constant eating of small portions is really the healthiest way to go. Great post!

  6. AudreyNo Gravatar CZECH REPUBLIC Says:

    I just returned to Central Europe after almost 18 months in Asia and my body went into shock after the first traditional Viennese meal! After about a week in Prague I found myself at the Vietnamese market buying all sorts of veggies, rice noodles, fresh herbs and Thai curry pastes to get back to a healthy eating lifestyle again. This post makes me really miss the street food and pace of eating in Asia! Looking forward to reading the Top Ten!

  7. Aruna SolankiNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Good Post .. It helped me to design my daily diet..

  8. Jon ParkerNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Great blog Chris but not so sure about this post.

    There are some really good points about eating more often and reducing portion size but there is also some terrible advice here.

    Firstly you should do some research into Tofu and other soya-based products. Then decide whether you want to eat it – I know wouldn’t dream of putting it in my mouth.

    There isn’t enough space here for a lesson on insulin sensitivity but quite simply eating all that rice (or any) in the presence of any fat will lead to fat storage.

    Agreed the locals here in Bali aren’t fat but many of them are just skinny, mainly because they don’t eat enough. My girlfriend can lift more than a lot of the guys at the gym!

    Stick to the following and you’ll do much better:

    Eat small meals 5 times per day
    Eat MORE protein
    Don’t limit the amount of fat you eat (it’s a vital nutrient)
    Don’t eat starchy carbs with fat (bread, beer, rice etc)
    Eat veg with every meal (preferably green ones)

    Keep up the good work! :)

  9. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Jon Parker, thanks for the additional health tips! Just one question, what is wrong with Tofu? Didn’t know so far there is a risk as well…

  10. Jon ParkerNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Sorry for my original hit-and-run comment – I’m a busy boy!!! lol

    Here is a good article to read if you want to find out more about soy products – It’s from a female bodybuilding website but applies to both men and women (men even more I’d say)


    Academic research on Soy/Soya products links them to the following:

    Digestive distress
    Thyroid dysfunction
    Cognitive decline
    Reproductive disorders
    Birth defects
    Immune system breakdown
    Heart disease

    Eat at your own risk!!


    Jon :)

  11. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Jon Parker, thanks for the link! I checked this one and other sources and believe it’s all a matter of “how much”. Let me explain:

    While soybeans are certainly not a wonder recipe, they aren’t that bad either. It’s simply another bean and of course, as with everything, if you eat it in a normal way, there is nothing wrong with that. I don’t advocate to substitute meat completely with soy – I’m not a vegan or vegetarian – but soy certainly has its benefits. There are plenty of other, worse, things in our usually pre-processed meals, be it MSG, preservatives, gluten, coloring, too much added sugar or salt.

    Just yesterday I read an older ‘Men’s Health’ in a coffee shop and they had the 10 worst drinks of America. Including favorite choices like Spritzer, Starbucks and other franchises. Guess what, the worst drink had more calories than 6 McDonalds Burgers! Most of those drinks had up to 45g sugar per 100g. The problem is eating/drinking processed food with added sugar, salt or additives. Even soya products in the US are heavily spiked with them. That of course makes them no valuable at all or in the same category like other civilization foods. Point taken.

    I believe those additives in standard food items are much more risky than eating a bit of Tempe, Tofu or Soya milk from time to time. ;-)

  12. Miss ExpatriaNo Gravatar FRANCE Says:

    It’s funny, I always think of Asian people eating fast – I guess I got that impression from watching how the Chinese eat their noodle soups, seeming to shovel it in in great bites.

  13. MonNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    “Eat slow”

    According to a psychiatrist that I know, eating and libido are congruent. The faster you eat the faster you reach you orgasm. LOL

  14. Top 10 popular Foods of Asia explained | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] RSS feed of nomad4ever. Thanks for visiting! ;-)After losing some pounds following the tips in this article – it’s now time to put some of them back – […]

  15. ryan ZoupNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    hey chris is the right choice you put this one and you certainly of this,i love vegan and meat but at here is not proper to make healthy choice in some fast food that really bad :D

  16. JustineNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    is there a forum on the site?

  17. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Justine, so far the only way to give feedback, interact or discuss topics is the comment form you’ve been using. Maintaining and moderating a forum is quite a job and I currently don’t have the time for that. But let me think about it, if there is more demand for it, how to utilize that idea best.

  18. PippitNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Great articles. Btw tempeh bacem is not a tofu. it is a tempeh. Tempeh is fermented soy bean cake that still have the soy beans visible. While tofu is like the crushed one and formed a unified white block. So I guess what you mean is “tahu bacem”. It got calories alright thanks to the coconut sugar added and the way it fried.

    We Asian doesn’t eat too much junk food because it is a lot more expensive compare to those regular fresh local food sold in the warungs or small resto. In here junk food considered to be like fancy and luxurious food (the reverse with what in the west I guess). Believe it or not we just go there occasionally for celebration or even birthdays. I never been to Starbucks before because with the price of one coffee, I can use the money to eat for 3 days or pay one month of gym membership here in Yogyakarta eheheh!


  19. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Pippit, thanks for clarifying at putting some more light into the whole tempeh thing (one of my favorites food in Indo). I agree that in general, the Indonesian cuisine is one of the most healthy ones in Asia, as everything is usually prepared fresh from natural produce and for the same day only. One reason why I prefer Indonesian Food over Thai food, but that’s maybe only me. And yeah, Starbucks is a horrible and expensive invention, since when do Americans know about good coffee anyway? Just joking. ;;)

  20. PatrickWNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    LOL, it is more important to be seen in a Starbucks than to drink Starbucks coffee. My old work group used to use the Starbucks run to indicate not so subtly who is and is not in the “in” group. I’m like, “$5 a day to prove I’m in? No thanks. That’s almost two full meals back in Asia.”

Leave a Reply

Hey, if you want a picture to show by your comment, why not get a gravatar?

;-) :twisted: :roll: :oops: :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :evil: :cry: :arrow: :?: :-| :-x :-o :-P :-D :-? :) :( :!: 8-O 8)