Delicious but deceiving
All visitors that we've had have said the same thing during their first attempt to eat with sticks:
-Gosh, it is hard to pick up food with these things! But in a way it is good! I normally eat so fast, and with sticks I can’t so I eat much slower and therefore also less!
I normally just smile, nod and go ‘yeah, isn’t it great’ although I know it is not.
Sure, you might eat a bit slower with sticks during your first, hesitative week in China. But wait until you’ve figured out how to use those babies. And worked up some speed. That’s when sticks become more dangerous than a fork and a knife. While a fork and a knife might be good helpers to cutting meat and picking up stuff, sticks allow you to ‘shove’ food into your mouth (not that I’ve done that… eh... or OK, maybe once or twice…)
And since we are on the subject of ‘food myths’….. Chinese food doesn’t make you eat less. Rather, having 4-5 different dishes to pick up food from (as well as a bowl of rice) often leads to overeating. Especially if it is yummy. At least in my case, since I don’t know when to stop (or OK, I do… but still, I don’t).
So, what does eating fast + overeating often lead to… yup… weight gain! You need to be no Sherlock Homes to figure that one out. And then I haven’t even gotten into the fact that most Chinese food is swimming in copious amounts of oil.... Oil that simply cannot be good for you. Not in those amounts anyways.
I wasn’t one of those who moved to China and put on a lot of weight during my first 6 months. Rather, I lost quite a lot of kilos as a result of: not training (farewell muscles), being stomach sick at least once a month (farewell flab), not loving Chinese food (and therefore not eating it on an everyday basis), not being able to work the sticks with speed, and not being in love with rice… (where I come from, it is all about potatoes).
But, once the stomach got used to the new bacteria environment, the fingers worked up some ‘stick’ speed and I worked up an appetite for Chinese food things started to turn around. Still, because of my love for healthy, home-made food, as well the fact that I started exercising, I managed to stay in shape….
…until I got lazy. It happened around the beginning of this year. Oven made salmon with veggies was replaced by every-day-eating-out or ordering in. Hello dumplings, mapu tofu and gong bao ji ding (chicken). Hello oil, rice and eating much more than you need. Every day. At lunch and dinner.
And then I realized I was addicted to rice. I couldn’t eat a single meal without a rice bowl next to me. The painful truth hit me when I was at a Xinjiang restaurants and ordered a lamb meat/bread dish, as well as a spicy chicken-potato-noodle pot. And a bowl of rice.
-You really need rice as well?! Asked my Chinese friend.
-Of course I do!!
(ehhhhh??? I did? I am not so sure).
Reality hit me as a painful slap in the face during the beginning of this week when I decided to wear my lose ‘comfy’ jeans to school… and realize that I could barely button them up anymore. Whoa whoa whoa… what’s going on here?!
Well, eating fast + over eating + carb overload + oily food = weight gain. DESPITE the fact that I work out almost religiously.
Since I am (or OK, used to be) a bit of a health freak (although I admit it –I am mainly strict about working out 4-5 times/week –I rarely care about what I eat) I am going to take immediate action. Wave farewell to the sticks and the rice bowls for a while. And start making my own food. Maybe limit eating out (which includes ordering in) to 3 times/week. It sucks –because I looooove Chinese food. But large amounts of oil and carbs simply aren’t helping me to get ready for summer. Even though I really wish it was.
Don’t get me wrong though. I am not going on any salad diet. Gosh no no no. Salad doesn’t do it for me. And ‘diet’ is a BAD word in my world. But cooking on your own is good because it gives you a more honest idea of what you are eating as well as how much you are eating. So that’s the only thing I am changing. Although I admit, I am going to miss the rice bowl a lot....