Personal Ideas for Well Balanced Diet within Chinese Culture

    Posted on Tuesday, Oct 08, 2019
    Are you enjoying delicious energy bar while browsing the blog? Are you planning to attend a seminar or activity at campus offering free food today? When was your last homemade meal? How much time per week do you usually spend for making your meals? Talking about the healthy and balanced diet, my first feeling is that the greater the academic pressure I have, like the mid-term now, the more effort I would put to efficiently and scientifically design and practice my enjoyable diets. You might ask why not just ordering carry-out or hangout with friends in restaurants, I would acknowledge that I prefer the Chinese Diet of harmony though everyone has personal ideas of what kinds of food constitute a healthy diet. No matter how varied and different nutritional theories defining a healthy meal are for diverse cultures and people in the world, eating healthy would be a long-term investment with high returns.

    Science in Chinese Diet

    Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a branch of traditional medicine that has been raised within the Chinese Culture since 5,000 years ago including various forms, and dietary therapy is one of them. Although some scientists not only abroad but also domestic have criticized it for advocating it is pseudoscience, I would stay neutral for the doubt and appreciate more scientific research studying it. However it is undeniable that Chinese medical practice has contributed a lot to the country and the world. Honeysuckle my grandfather picked freshly every spring and stored within a year cured my chronic tonsillitis so it kept me away from medicines like antibiotics. Youyou Tu was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2015 for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria. Since 1965 working at the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, she has managed to extract a substance, artemisinin, which inhibits the malaria parasite. So rather than arguing the arbitrary attitude to the complicated TCM, I believe it would be more exciting to hear cutting-edge discoveries for figuring out the inherent scientific truth in Inner Canon of Huangdi and explaining why practical experienced-based therapy could have successfully saved people’s life or made people’s life better.

    Every aspect of Chinese culture is based on the principles of the ancient philosophy of Yin and Yang and the Five Elements. This philosophy was written in the first classic of Chinese philosophy called the I Ching, discussing the relation among contrast, balance, harmony, and change. Resources and references are accessible particularly if you are interested in literature review. For my practice in making daily meal, not simply focusing on covering five tastes, I would manage to have at least five kinds of ingredients in each meal for taking care of my solid organs related to the five elements. For example, I look forward for every Friday night when I could enjoy designing the dietary theme, doing grocery for organic ingredients within the budget, preparing food in a healthy cooking way for next week: mooncakes with stuffed red beans and shredded coconut for Week 4, whole wheat dumpling wrapping various kinds of vegetables for Week 5, steamed buns with kale juice for Week 6, boiled snow pear with white fungus and millet congee with vegetables for this “chilly” Fall week. The more assignments and tasks, the more burdened I am, the more efforts I would force myself to take care of my diet smartly and efficiently, which would sustainably produce the positive feedback for healthy-living and enjoyable-studying/research.

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    Dietary Theme for Week 5: Whole Wheat Dumpling Wrapping Various Kinds of Vegetables
     
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    Dietary Theme for Week 6: Steamed Buns with Kale Juice

    Here I would like to recommend two of my favorite influencers on YouTube sharing Authentic Chinese Cuisine recipes with their nice voice and detailed English subtitles: Amanda Tastes and Magic Ingredients (xiaogaojie). New ideas and improvement would make your recipes unique.
    Mooncake with red bean paste: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mg1XeWsfHoQ
    Mooncake with lotus seed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWl992jvSU8
     
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    Wufu vegetables wrapped in buns
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    Toast using the extra dough
     
    Vegetarianism V.S. Eating Meat

    I am not absolutely vegetarian, sometimes meat would make me happy especially when having little wine. Nevertheless, I have controlled the amount of meat consuming, because excepts the good sight of gaining protein, consuming too much meat with high-calories sauce would probably trigger indigestion, weight gain, increased cholesterol, elevated lipid and blood sugar. For vegetarians, I would suggest you visiting the Student Health Services (SHS) constantly and taking all the possible free tests covered in our insurance plans. The way of cooking would change the property of ingredients, so I would classify the unhealthy cooking into the practice of wasting food, it could make sense if you ever had the experience of growing your own vegetables from seeds. I prefer steaming the daily meal (corn, sweet potato, congee with shrimp, and snow pear soup for this week) using small mugs and a rack one time in the instant pot, setting the low pressure and cooking time, then every morning something amazing and delicious waits for you to start a wonderful day. I am really restrict with picking vegetables, only consuming organic vegetables identified by USDA. Having raw vegetables could have high risks of contamination by microorganisms, heavy metal, pesticides, and antibiotics-related manure, etc. Manage to lower such risks, please support USDA ORGANIC!

    Reaction between different kinds of food. Absorbing nutrition from various types of ingredients is one thing, the reaction creating harmful (or even toxic) substances inside body is another thing. Please do not squeeze the fresh lemon/lime juice onto shrimp, the vitamin C would produce a reducing environment where the phase of arsenic in shrimp could change from As (V) to As (III), which is more poisonous. If you want to have steamed soft tofu with baby spanich, please steam spanich separately or have chicken instead of tofu, because rich content of oxalic acid in raw spanich would react with calcium in tofu, then the created calcium oxalate precipitation would not be easy for digestion…The purpose is not to make you panic but to let you be more aware of the science in our food, full of magic and surprise; moreover, there is an old saying in toxicology, the Dose Makes the Poison, which could provide a new sight for dietary intake controlling.

    Eating “Logically”-Adjust time for your meal or feed yourselves with low-sodium, low-calories, high-protein, high-fiber snacks before attending the conference or a formal banquet so you could be more prepared and more confident to have fun in an unexpected or expected talk. Eating well is important, behaving well and decently would be the icing on the cake.

    Have your BMI analysed or have more specific tests done in Student Health Services (SHS), search for support from nutritionists and dieticians, ask diet plan suggestions from professionals, subscribe some amazing youtubers and keep updated with innovative recipes…Practice, improve, and record your own healthy dietary life.
     
    ---Kaiyi Zhang
    Kaiyi Zhang is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health


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