Category Archives: weight loss

Glutton-related matters: Fat

Scones: a dietary no-no

In the United States, over one-third of Americans fall into the “obese” category, according to U.S.-based nonprofit the Obesity Society. That’s news that is guaranteed to surprise no one.

So it shouldn’t be much of a shock that Thailand is going the way of its American ally — a 2009 government study showed the average size of the Thai man had grown 7 cm in height and 12 kg in weight over the past 25 years, while the height of women has increased 5 cm and weight by 5.5 kg. Women’s waistlines have grown 3.7 cm, resulting in a more “tubular” shape, noted study researchers. No correspondingly insulting adjective for the shape of men, alas.

No reason was really given for this jump in size, but we can probably guess the culprit: loud-mouthed political blowhards trying to drown out all voices of dissent … Oh wait, that’s not it! Excuse me ::shuffles notes::

Ahem. I mean our daily diets, of course! And when you eat like I eat — like a shark that is on its 15-minute coffee break after a two-week-long fast — it’s a good idea to take a step back and, uh, weigh the wisdom of our daily food choices. And when I say “our”, I mean “my”. I am tired of people getting up for me on the Skytrain (I am not pregnant, people) and sick of wearing my maternity clothes. I enlist the help of my long-suffering trainer, Champ.

Ever read those “food journals” in women’s magazines and get bored/annoyed/alarmed at the ridiculously small amounts these fashion stylists/PR women/models eat? (“Saturday: 2 pieces of sushi. Cup of green tea. Teaspoon of tiramisu.”) Here’s a food journal that will make you feel much better about yourself. Even better, it’s for real!


9:00 — Slice of toast with cheese

12:30 — at Xuan Mai: 1/2 portion beef pho, avocado and mango salad, many pieces of deep-fried spring roll, 2 pieces of fresh spring roll

8:00 — after getting freaked out by “Food Inc.”: grass-fed beef tenderloin, green bean salad with cherry tomatoes, stir-fried bok choy in oyster sauce, stir-fried kale in Maggi, glass of red wine (or three)

(Champ, my trainer, already looks alarmed: “Can’t you eat earlier?” he says. “What about my friends?” I say. “Do you want to lose weight or have friends?” he asks.)


9:00 — 1.5 slices of cold grass-fed beef, 2 Tbs green bean salad

12:30 — at Khun Churn: vegetarian khao soy, 1/2 serving of brown rice, sweet tofu-potato curry, mushroom “nam thok”, 1/2 plate fried green beans

7:00 — at Xinn Tien Di: Peking duck, suckling pig, morning glory with shrimp paste, barbecued pork ribs, 2 Tbs jellyfish, fried fish, 2 pieces fried pork, 2 pieces fried soft-shell crab, 1 piece date-stuffed pancake, minced duck with lettuce

(“Oh my God,” says Champ. “Was that all for one person?” “It’s a Chinese meal, they have courses,” I explain. “Your dinner is more food than I see in a day,” he says. “I eat two hard-boiled eggs and a glass of milk at night. That’s all.”)


9:00 — 1 Quaker oats 100-calorie bar

11:30 — Romaine lettuce with salami, ham, cheese, anchovies, oil and vinegar dressing

3:00 — Tom yum mushroom

7:30 — at Maduzi hotel: Organic herb salad, lamb, steak

(“That’s a lot of food,” says Champ. “Could you try to limit yourself to one main course?” “I was hungry,” I say. “Just go straight to sleep,” he says. Uh, thanks, mister magician of the obvious!)

Final verdict: I’m not eating enough for breakfast. I need more protein and carbs first thing so I don’t freak out when I see real food at lunchtime and stuff my face, Champ says. Bacon and hard-boiled eggs are a good idea (Champ is big on hard-boiled eggs).

Limiting myself to one or two dishes out is also a good idea, since the portion sizes of the 4-5 dishes I usually order at one sitting total up to half a day’s worth of food. I could maybe manage to restrain myself if I add two mini-meals a day, one in the mid-morning and one mid-afternoon, he says. At dinnertime (no later than 7:30pm), one dish is enough, without any carbs. And lay off the fried foods!

Alcohol is a bad idea. If I must have a glass of wine or two, or three, then I must be prepared to make some sort of sacrifice elsewhere (food-wise). Or I could spend a few more minutes on the treadmill or elliptical trainer (no way in hell). There must be some sort of trade-off (I’ll have to cut off an arm).

I complain all the time about how I have no friends, but now is the time to actually not have any friends, apparently. A social life is a hindrance to sticking to my diet. Or, as Champ says, “Tell your friends you’ll see them in three months.” Is this for real? Will they even recognize me? How seriously should I be taking this diet?

Then again, the maternity wear in Thailand is getting pretty cute. Maybe I could hold on for a few more months.

(Photos by @SpecialKRB)

Trainer-approved grub: Anothai's green papaya salad


Filed under Asia, Bangkok, food, restaurant, Thailand, weight loss

Losin’ It

Ronald McDonald with his muse, Bangkok Glutton


Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m trying to lose weight.

Being a Glutton isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There are the constant, relentless, unremitting questions like “When are you going to lose weight?” or “How did you get so big?” or “When are you due?” (my personal favorite). The “helpful” people who never fail to point out that “You’ve gained weight!” (for the record, thank you. I had no idea I was fat until you pointed that out to me.)  And best of all, the nagging from my Debbie Downer doctor (what’s Lipitor for?).

It’s tempting to see being fat as a blow on the side of the underdog, an “f you” to a society that sees women’s bodies as a sort of public domain that can constantly be critiqued and controlled. I especially love how the people most ready to point out your flaws are not, shall we say, paragons of conventional beauty themselves (the Law of Inverse Self-Awareness). But where does the “I” fit into this equation? Does life become a constant string of humiliations as you balloon your way to the realm of the Morbidly Obese? Or, possibly worse, does it turn into an endless parade of renunciation, making your life a joyless void of all that is fun and worth living? Should I stop, well, being Gluttonous? What would my fan think?

There are people who say that they “love food”, and then end up eating half a plate of something and a bite of dessert. Those people are annoying. Food is not a hobby for me, or even a career. It is an almost constant preoccupation. When we are eating dinner with people who don’t know me very well,  my husband will occasionally try to take advantage of the situation by pretending I cannot finish something like an entire lamb shank and about half a box of polenta by myself (of course, we all know that I can finish this, and your dinner too). Because I am a “girl”, I have to fork some food over or look like a complete pig, but all the while my brain is thinking “OHMYGODWHATAREYOUDOING?” That is what food means to me. It’s like a security blanket for my mouth.

This brings me to the title of this post: “Losin’ it” — much like the cheesy ’80s movie of the same name, complete with super-classy “‘n” (because to spell out “losing” is so, like, whack).  Right before going into labor with my son four months ago, I weighed 78 kg (yes, that’s right). After giving birth, I lost…3 kg. So now I weigh…well, I can’t really do the math. Whatever. I need to lose weight, okay?

The perfect diet food? Green papaya salad (som tum), a dish once etched out of the hard soil and uncompromising heat of the northeastern Isaan region, today the culinary darling among society mavens of a certain age. Tart, salty, spicy and a little sweet (although some versions are so sweet it’s like eating fishy candy — yuck), it’s no wonder that som tum is one of the most popular street foods in Thailand.

Som tum can be found just about anywhere there is a mortar and pestle (an integral tool for “bruising” the papaya strands with the yummy juices), but one of the better vendors in terms of variety is Hai Somtum Convent (2/4-5 Convent Rd. off of Silom Rd.). It offers the standard, most popular “Thai” version with dried shrimp and peanuts, but also a good version with pickled crabs (plucked from the rice fields and “cooked” via pickling); a horseshoe crab one; one with preserved, salted egg; a version made entirely of carrots; and one with pla rah, or Thai anchovy (kind of an acquired taste, but unrivalled for depth of flavor. If you like gapi, or shrimp paste, chances are you will like this).

Somtum Thai, with minced pork salad in background

Hai also offers an interesting range of minced meat salads (larb) as well — pork, duck, chicken, catfish, glass vermicelli noodle and squid – but these dishes are fried and, so, not great for someone trying to lose weight. When in doubt, stick to the som tum, skip the fried chicken and sticky rice accompaniments (which make you sleepy anyway), and revel in your newfound righteousness.


Filed under Asia, Bangkok, food, restaurant, Thailand, weight loss