The Beginner's Guide to Eating Chinese Style
We went into our Chinese lifestyle knowing very little of authentic Chinese food. The Chinese restaurants near our hometown served egg rolls, fried rice, and crab rangoon.
After seven months of living in China, I am happy to report that not only are we loving the Chinese cuisine, but we have lots and lots of weight, feel great and are healthier than ever.
Hopefully, you can tell the difference between the before and after!!
So let's get you started on eating Chinese Style!
The Beginner's Guide to Eating Chinese Style
Eat your food family style
I used to hate eating family-style, I wanted my own plate and to control what was on it. I had the wrong mindset around eating family-style.
Family style is supposed to be various smaller dishes (unless you are feeding 12) where everyone takes a little bit at a time. Enjoy your time together, talk about your day. Don't wolf down your food!
As a cook, this might feel more complicated, but it actually is easier. Don't think that every dish has to be extremely different. You might serve carrots with two different sauces or fish baked and fish fried. Choose simple dishes with limited ingredients. Nature's own flavor can be the best!
Use a smaller bowl - much smaller
Go into your cupboard and find your smallest bowl. Now that will be the bowl that you will eat from. That is your new serving size.
Your more traditional 10-12" plates will now be your serving plates. How is that for easy!
You might be thinking, how am I going to be full-on only one bowl of food that small? Don't fret, you are not limited to only one dish.
This is beneficial is because every time you finish your small bowl or plate, you have to actively get more food. This helps for a couple of reasons. First, you take a breathe and stop shoveling food in your mouth, allowing yourself to achieve the full sensation. Secondly, you are actively getting more food. Which again creates a pause and thought about your next serving. Put these together, and you eat less.
Vegetables are your main course
For those of you that are heavy meat eaters, this might be the most challenging part of this whole Chinese eating style. Vegetable dishes will be two or three of the recipes where the meat will only be one. If you like math, then 3/4th of your options should be vegetables. For example, you might have one plate of cucumbers, one of corn & carrots, and then another with ribs. If you wanted one night to have diced potatoes, chicken, and eggplant, that would also be okay.
We were not fans of vegetables before either, but find a few dishes that your whole family loves and rotate those. Trust us.
Cut down on your meat & dairy
As I mentioned above meat will now only be 1/4th of your meal. The average Chinese family eats very little meat because it is expensive, and not as healthy as vegetables. There are many articles out now explaining the health benefits of limiting your meat intake.
Limit your dairy. We eat very little dairy and that was a huge hurdle for us since we are from Wisconsin which is named the Cheese State! We are less bloated or inflamed and the color of our skin has even changed. We use to have huge puffy bags under our eyes and now they are gone!
Use chopsticks to eat or smaller forks/spoons
You don't HAVE to use chopsticks, but the take away from using chopsticks is portions. You want to control your portions and avoid overeating due to eating too fast.
Eating with chopsticks for a week will slow down the amount you shovel into your mouth at one time and allow the full-feeling we get when we eat to reach our brains in time to not feel that we need that next bite. This is about portion control, but have some fun and try eating with chopsticks!
Introduce rice and noodles into your meals
A Chinese diet includes a lot of rice and noodles. So our daily diet is no different, we eat rice or noodles 3 times a day. We have grown to love it.
Many will argue that brown rice is healthier, which I am in complete agreement with, but we are eating Chinese style which includes white rice. The Chinese feel that brown rice fits into the same category as the plague, they avoid it at all costs and find it a bit insulting.
What about all of the calories and the carbs in white rice? The Chinese have been eating it for thousands of years and look better, live longer, and are healthier than almost any other group of people. So, I will trust them and stick with my WHITE rice. Don't fix it if it ain't broken!
Eat - just don't gobble it.
Don't think that we just sit around eating carrots and celery all day and that is how we lost all of our weight. We eat the food we crave as well! I am a sucker for a coke and a snickers bar. I don't want to know how many calories are in there or how many carbohydrates. But I have one of my power pick me up doses about twice a week at least. We crave burgers so we order McDonald's about once a week.
The difference is that now that we are much more focused on portion control within our regular meals we do the same with our cravings. Instead of depriving ourselves we have some fries once a week vs three boxes. We eat our cookies slow and enjoy the flavor because we know we only can have one!
Stop stockpiling snacks or unhealthy food
We come from families that keep food around in case the Apocalypse comes or maybe the next group of teenage boys. The problem with keeping all sorts of yummy food around is that you eat it when you aren't supposed to.
You might have will power, but we don't!! Especially Zeek, he will go and snack on just about anything he can dig up at 11 or 12 at night. So we have eliminated having snacks around altogether.
We only have the food we will eat today or maybe tomorrow in our fridge, now I know that won't work for all families, but think about how much easier it would be if you only bought food for this week and kept to your list. Don't be lured down the chip aisle to walk away with three bags you don't need.
Reduce sauces and bottled spices
This might sound odd, but it is true. We used to have about 30 bottles of spices in our cupboard. I admit that I didn't know how to properly use 28 of them. In our Chinese diet, we use about 4 or five different spices in total. They are ginger, garlic, oyster sauce, chives, and soy sauce. The ginger, garlic, and chives are cut freshly and put into the dishes. Why not use fresh seasonings if you can.
We believe it has helped with bringing out the natural flavor of our food and made all of our veggies extra yummy. They also take up so much less space!
I have to tell you that I am so excited to share these small steps to changing the way you eat, even if it is minimally. We learned so much about food living in China that we never would have learned otherwise and are happy to spread healthy love.