“I have a great career, good family and friends…. but it all seems to matter little when I feel unhappy about my weight.”
“I know what it is like to be a slave to the calories, I really do.”
“Now I’ve gained back all the weight I lost. I feel like a miserable failure, and it makes me cry and become so angry.”
“I’ve already given up on dressing well…. Even if I dress up a little bit, I’m still going to be judged.”
“I live in LA, every time when I go out for a happy hour, I’d be like ‘Oh gosh, everyone here looks so beautiful, and I just feel like a toad’….”
Above is what people told me one on one, and the list of similar struggles goes on and on….
Whenever someone says these words to me, it makes my stomach churn because I was once that person who lived with the same crippling fears – the fear that the extra 50 pounds would shadow the best years of my life, that I’d be a nobody, forever, who lived a mediocre life.
And I was the person who used to scream inside every day: “I want these extra pounds gone, immediately!” Then realized that I was that chipmunk making circles by following one diet after another.
Not everyone has the same deep struggle with her weight. Maybe you just want to lose those 10 pounds or 15…And that’s fine.
If you are seriously committed to doing something about it now yet don’t want to become a slave to the calories, weight watchers, ketogenic, treadmill, Herbalife etc., and if you don’t want to worry about gaining everything back once everything is lost, I’m going to teach you something very special in this Guide.
In short, it’s how people in East Asia naturally stay slim even if they love eating so much and are often-time voracious eaters (they are the people who greet each other by saying “Have you eaten yet?”)
Who am I?
I’m Leslie Chen. I’m a health coach based in New York, and I’m writing this guide to help busy, ambitious women like you naturally lose the extra pounds, feel comfortable in your own skin, and make the fullest of life with no regret or missed opportunities.
This is what I look like now:
But years ago, I looked like this:
In this Guide, I will show you the Asian-inspired, time-tested, and science-backed method to lose weight easily, WITHOUT the hassle of hitting the gym, counting calories, fighting carbs, or weighing food.
Using what I teach in this Guide, I have successfully lost 50 pounds and maintained it naturally for 9 years.
The same techniques have helped my audience lose the stubborn weight, so that they could get back into their old jeans effortlessly and make life more enjoyable.
In fact, how the East Asian people get to be thin while eating a lot of food has been a big puzzle in the western world over the years.
Many simply think it’s genes.
They have a reason to given the fact that within the US, Asian American group has the longest life expectancy among all – outliving white population – the second longest living race group – by almost 8 years.
This false belief has shut the door to healthy living for many, watch me dismantle it in this Guide.
Others, who are really intrigued to learn about the Asian secret to healthy, lean life, usually find few resources available.
The internet research will show you some sparse, shallow discussions here and there. Sometimes, you’ll run into someone’s article on how she lost weight after moving to Asia and getting immersed in the local lifestyle (like this one).
But nothing is up-close or in-depth. Some are just flat-out wrong.
So till today, the majority part of the “secret” on how most Asian people get to manage weight naturally is still left covered among the westerners.
This is why I’m creating this guide – to fill the void.
And as a Chinese who has spent her first 19 years in China, gained 50 pounds after the move to the US, dieted in various western ways, then naturally lost all the weight the Asian way, I have crystal clarity on why your hard-earned diet results have been short-lived.
In addition to getting you that clarity, this Guide will give you powerful strategies, simple working techniques, and action steps that give you EVERYTHING you need to shed that 30 stubborn pounds – naturally and permanently.
Before we dive in, I’d like to share with you what some of my readers have said so that you know what you can expect out of this experience:
How do you make the most of this Guide?
Each section of it has a message with clear action steps.
Instead of devouring everything all at once and get overwhelmed, download the PDF version and read one section at a time. People see surprising results when they give themselves some mental space to think through things and take the suggested action steps accordingly.
Soon, you’ll see the solid transformation in your body shape, energy level, and feel satisfied, happy and free.
Let’s dive in now.
If you knew me in the past 9 years, you’d probably never think that I’ve ever struggled with weight in my life.
At 19, I came to the US for college as a very slender girl. Being completely lost in the different food culture here, I quickly put on 30 pounds in the first semester – that was ¼ of me before I arrived.
Desperately trying to lose the weight and get back to my “normal,” I tried almost every FAD diet.
One time, to avoid carbs (when following Atkins), I told the school that I had diabetes, and they agreed to make a clean chicken breast everyday only for me.
Two months later, the cafeteria manager was amazed (mad) at my speedy recovery progress when seeing me devouring all sweet and starchy food – that day I was binge like crazy, splurging every drop of freedom I had as if it was the last day of the world.
The consequence of being a lab rat for FAD experiments? Another 20 lbs of extra weight plus a deep, serious eating disorder.
My worst fear, every night in front of the mirror when naked, was “am I going to look and live like this for the rest of my life? And what if I become so tired and let go of myself….” And every morning, I had to suck up the fear and pretend that I still had full confidence in myself – in a dark-colored, 1-size-larger sweatshirt that hid my curves (or lack of curves).
That summer, a month back at home in China transformed my life. And the person who made that change happen was my mother – the strict, demanding, tiger lady who I dreaded so badly when making every single mistake growing up.
Before I met her at the airport, I’ve imagined various scenes where she crushed my already traumatized, shrinking ego.
I was petrified! But that just showed how much I didn’t know my mom.
The woman who gave me life, although failing to recognize me within the first few seconds of the reunion, didn’t mention a word about my body. And later, she helped me lose a ton of it.
Not by psychic power, simply by restoring the life that I used to live, through treating me the same home-made food I used to have all the time that made me happy, satisfied and fully nourished.
So every morning, I woke up to a simple yet nourishing breakfast (generally it’s congee with kimchi or a bowl of noodle with a pan fried egg).
At noon time, I had a bowl of rice with 2-3 plates of colorful, delicious stir-fries and a satiating, clear soup.
For dinner, we usually ate the leftover from lunch, but my mom has a way of making everything look and taste like just freshly made. During the day, we enjoyed some fruit platters while watching TV or chatting.
This was the best that could ever happen to me at that time.
It made me happy, and most importantly, it enabled me to feel like a normal person again.
Indeed, when you’ve deprived yourself for such a long time, you forget what living like a normal person feels like.
And there was still one problem: I became even more scared of the scale because I knew I violated EVERY single rule for losing weight, including religiously counting calories, tracking foods, avoiding carbs, and exercising rigorously.
I knew just looking at the scale number would ruin my entire vacation, I didn’t want that.
So I cautiously kept myself away from the scale until one unexpected event happened.
On that day, the pair of pants which I wore during the trip back to China, for the first time, needed a waistband to stay on! I rushed to the scale as if I was on fire, and when the needle stopped, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
I was F.O.U.R.T.E.E.N P.O.U.N.D.S lighter, but wait a minute, only by living a normal life? The thinking blew me away, and I knew one thing right at that moment:
From this day on, I will not encounter another failure on weight loss anymore – just by doing what I’ve been doing.
For the first time after many months, I felt grounded.
But I was coming back to the US in 1 week! Does it mean I won’t be able to maintain the progress anymore?
No way I could let it happen, so I spent the entire week closely monitoring the way I ate and lived at home. The end product was a list of simple yet finely synthesized, practical rules to follow.
Soon, I took this list with me back to the states. Ten months later, the remaining 36 pounds disappeared.
You get up early to run.
You count every calorie you eat.
And you block out carbs by banning your favorite foods.
You’ve been working so hard on the same 30 pounds.
But what if the key is to work less?
Someone who I look up to, the entrepreneur and Publicity Coach Selena Soo, once sent her community members an email named “Show Me Your Friends, And I’ll Show You Your Future”.
In this email, she talked about how her friends with a humble beginning have jump-started their life and business by surrounding themselves with the right influencers.
Selena has used what she taught to create a million-dollar business just in a few years, and some of her best strategies are capsulized in her free guide here.
Generally speaking, to be successful, you need to surround yourself with the right people.
It only sounds cliché because it’s true.
And have you thought the same truth applies to health, too?
For foods to give you the positive health results you want, you need to pair them with the right foods.
So what will happen when you match naturally produced carbohydrates with a big chunk of fat and heavily processed sugar? You get a classic, powerful formula for the double chin and bloated belly.
You eat fat, and the added sugar which is soon becoming fat.
And the carbohydrates you eat, although not being transferred into fat too soon, will cause the fat cells to fill up faster due to the increase of insulin level. Insulin is the fat storage hormone in the body.
With that synergy, this is a lost cause.
On the other hand, when you match foods with great companions, you manifest this old saying:
the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
So what’s the lesson here?
In short, remember this formula:
carb-based foods + fat-based foods + sugar-based foods = ballooning up
This is simple, but it’s not easy given how much this formula has been dominating our food life these days.
Let’s take bagel – a typical American breakfast – as an example.
When you order a bagel, it usually involves two rich, dense, and sometimes artificially flavored dough, a few tbsps cream cheese, plus a few tbsps jelly.
Still, the worst food combination ever because of the reason explained.
And If you look around in the local restaurants and eateries, you’d be surprised by how much combos like this have dominated our world. Think about the pancake and syrup platter, pizza (thick dough and cheese layers), cheeseburgers, fried cheese, French fries with ketchup, and all the bakeries filled with jams or covered in cream….
Honestly, this is the one major food shock I needed to adapt to when I first arrived in the US.
Back at home in China, people usually have their starch paired with lots of vegetables and some proteins. It usually involves a bowl of fluffy white rice, a good amount of cooked vegetables, with some tender, juicy meat or tofu.
Starch doesn’t go with plain fat or sugar.
Typical Chinese Meals for One Person
The pictures above give you an idea what the food combo of a one-person meal is like in China.
There are some patterns you can see in the Chinese way of eating.
For instance, people eat meat with (a lot of) vegetables; rice is eaten with (a lot of) vegetables too.
Meanwhile, artificial sugar and fat-based foods rarely find their way onto the dinner table.
But here in the US, the “high fat + high carbs + high sugar” combo is always discovered in the most delicious everyday food here. Because this combo usually makes food very enjoyable, it encourages overeating.
Breaking this formula alone can lead to the huge win of stomping out a lot of unnecessary, hidden calories.
What are the quick steps to do it?
Start with simple changes in your diet.
Instead of using jelly with English muffin, try a thin slice of prosciutto to make it the quick, egg-free eggs benedict.
And rather than having a donut, maybe try an egg-white omelet with lots of veggies.
Note: By giving you the above 3-ingredient formula to avoid, I’m not saying you can’t eat these three ingredients together. Instead, I’m saying you should watch out the situations when they are the ONLY ingredients in your lunchbox, and when fat and sugar ratio is high in the combo.
Let me give you an example. If you have a sandwich with two slices of bread, a slice of seared beef, a good amount of veggies, and one tbsp cream cheese, this is a pretty good combo because it’s clean, healthy with a good variety of ingredients, and fat doesn’t make a significant component of the combo.
If you have a medium-sized bagel plus three tablespoons of cream cheese and two tablespoons of jelly, this is the red flag.
“WAIT A MINUTE! I THOUGHT CARBS MAKE YOU FAT?!?!?!?”
Whenever I show people what the normal Chinese meal setup looks like, this is the question I get asked the most.
I’m not surprised. Even I have fallen for the same doubt, and that’s exactly how I gained my last 20 pounds if you still remember that part of my story.
The answer in short:
In fact, to say that carbs are evil is like to say oxygen kills humans to a Chinese person. And it makes me mad to hear FAD gurus lying about it, trapping innocent people in a whole life of self-deprivation knowing it would get them nowhere.
The truth is obvious. If carbs were evil at all, all the East Asian populations should have since long been screwed up considering it commonly takes up to 90% of our entire food intake!
Also, we’ve been eating this way for thousands of years.
115-year-old photo of a Chinese man enthusiastically eating his rice – the staple food that comes with almost every meal.
Apparently, the life-expectancy data has been supporting our passion for carbs just as much as our personal experience does.
According to World Bank, the 2014 average life expectancy in China is 75.78 years vs. 78.94 years in the US.
So the Chinese life expectancy is three years shorter than American’s, how is it supporting my argument?
Let me explain it to you. China has 1.6 billion people (vs. 0.3 billion in the US), the GDP per capita is 8000 USD/year. There are a significant number of severely under-developed poor regions where people get very limited – and sometimes – no medical assistance. And the (modern science) medical technology there is far less advanced than the US even in the large, metropolitan cities.
People there live long because of the way they live and eat.
And what happens when Asians move to the US with their way of living and enjoy the same advantage in the environment and advanced medical infrastructures? As you’ve read about at the beginning of this Guide, they outlive other races by as many as eight years.
In my family and extended family, experience seems to support this way of eating, firmly and unanimously.
My grandpa lived to 90 years old and passed purely because his aging body could no longer support his daily function. He was a big carb eater like the rest of us and passed peacefully without being bothered by any chronic diseases.
My grandma is currently 86, and looking around, most of my cousins’ grandparents who are at the similar age are still healthy, and they are considered in outstanding shape for people at their age.
To an average elderly in China, aging doesn’t necessarily mean debilitation, nor does it mean vulnerability to a cluster of chronic diseases.
Instead, it could well mean vitality and beauty.
Grandpas and grandmas in their mid-80s exercising in a park in my neighborhood in the city of Nanjing. The similar elderly exercising scenes are very commonly seen in major cities in China.
Retired Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, 75 years old, playing Tai Chi with other elderlies
A community modeling show for urban women over 60s in Qipao – the traditional clothing (my BIG love!) My mom participated in one last year.
A typical public group dancing scene of women aged between 50 and 75. Public group dancing by the elderlies have been storming China for years. People gather in neighborhood parks, plazas, playgrounds and everywhere to perform this dancing show every day and sometimes twice a day. It’s quite a scene in any Chinese cities, and the ladies are called the “the plaza dancing mamas” by young people.
Meanwhile, the enormous gap between the obesity rate – 6.9% in China vs. 36.7% in the US – can again reassure us that carbohydrates aren’t the trigger for weight gain after all.
Now you might wonder: could it be genes?
This photo says “no.”
And there are mountains of scientific evidence that prove how the “gene” argument is just another urban myth.
Actually, in the context of health and diseases in general, the most distinguished and authoritative scholars in the western world have already ruled out genes as a key factor.
As T Colin Campbell (Dr.) and Thomas M Campbell (MD.) mentioned in their co-authored book China Study, they made it very clear that “genes function only by being activated, or ‘expressed,’ and nutrition plays a critical role in determining which genes, good and bad, are expressed.”
Meanwhile, in a very prominent report by Sir Richard Doll and Sir Richard Peto of the University of Oxford, which was later submitted to the US Congress, they summarized many prominent studies on the relationship between diet and diseases, and concluded that genes only contributed to 2-3% of the factors in the particular context of cancer.
In a study by Ken Carroll, a professor at University of Western Ontario in Canada, it’s shown that people who migrated from one area to another and who started eating the typical diet of their new residency assumed the disease risk of the area to which they moved.
Let’s face it – it’s what we eat that determines who we become.
And regarding carbohydrates, it’s how you eat it that changes the whole story.
BONUS TIP: Cooked rice only has about 1/3 calories and carbs that noodles and pasta have. It also has about ½ calories and carbs that bread does.
The reason? 70% of it is water. It fills your stomach, keeps you satisfied at only a fraction of calories noodles and bread contain.
Since water is locked in rice and can’t move freely, it will keep you full until rice is fully digested hours later.
Lesson #2. The Myth About Portion-Sizing – Slim Down, SATIATED, without Counting Calories or Weighing Food
The first time at a KFC in the US, I asked for a small soda, then was handed a jumbo sized cup for self-service.
I said to that lady: “I’m sorry, I asked for small.” She said: “this is small.”
Then, I walked out with a huge Dr. Pepper in hand. 20 minutes later, I threw it away because all the sugar and carbon in it made me bloated.
In America, everything is bigger.
Today’s weight loss and fitness industries teach people to base portion-sizing on calorie counting, yet many who experienced it have found it ineffective and misleading.
It is because calories don’t mean satisfaction. A 50-calorie apple could be more satiating than a 200-calorie brownie, and when joy is absent, deprivation is on.
This is the start of the chronic dieting mindset which is hard to escape later.
And it explains why MyFitnessPal, a platform that merely simplifies calorie counting and makes people even more obsessed with the numbers, is not solving the problem in the long run.
But what is the alternative then?
Eat whole foods, mindfully.
This is how I was taught to eat the right portion since my early childhood in China:
In my memory, each time, my mother would hand me a small bowl with half of it pre-filled with the fluffy rice.
She would then add some sliced meat from the light, freshly cooked stir-fry dish, then use the green vegetables to cover everything.
There’s one more step she never forgot to take: mixing everything thoroughly just to make sure every spoonful had rice, meat, and greens in it.
She would then feed me each spoonful and watch me chew slowly. When I finished, she asks me “are you full?” Then I would contently nod my head or ask her for more food.
Mom 25, me 1. I was a chubby kid.
Mom 51, me 27.
“Are you full?”
Answering this simple question once and once again trained me to be mindful about my body’s connection with food at a very young age.
I quickly learned what every meal was supposed to include, and the key components always needed to be there even though the entrees changed day after day.
A bowl of rice mixed with scallions, bean curd and mushrooms
No scale is necessary, nor are the measuring cups and spoons a must. I can accurately gauge the food portion size and proportion just by looking at what’s in the bowl. It’s a skill I gained from daily practicing.
The concept of “calories-counting”, which has arrived in China from the west recently, seems to address a need that doesn’t exist among most of us in China because all that is necessary is to listen to your body attentively.
That listening ability is human being’s natural instinct that seems to be largely forgotten.
BONUS TIP: Consider cutting your meat into bite-size pieces and mix the meat, vegetables, and starch well when eating. The reason is when we eat foods of different textures and eat them together, we feel more satisfied – both physically and psychologically.
What do you do then?
No matter what you are eating, visualization makes you conscious of the actual amount of food you are getting from each food category. You’d be surprised by how less often you overeat simply by being aware.
Here’s how you can start it:
For each meal, visualize a 9-inch plate with 55% lightly cooked vegetables, 20% lean meat or tofu, and 25% grains or potato. Do not go over the quota for each food category.
Eat slowly, chew well. Feel the flavors, aroma, and the varied texture of the food you are eating, and be attentive to how it makes you feel.
If the amount of food on your plate fills you well, stop. If not, get 10% more vegetables and protein.
When setting your goal for mindful eating, don’t go for 100% full but 80%, and fill the other 20% with healthy, clear soup, tea, or water. Let the liquid hydrate you and inflate the food you eat. Within just minutes, you’ll be satiated.
Super easy, delicious enoki mushroom soup done by Elaine at China Sichuan Food. Find recipe
Guess what, on the dinner table of a traditional Chinese family, a warm soup cannot be missed, and that is why.
Sometimes, a bowl of light, flavorful, and nutrition-rich noodle soup would do the job.
Vegetarian ramen by Nami @ Just One Cookbook
BONUS TIP: Simply by pouring the soup into the rice bowl and letting it stay for 10 minutes can inflate the rice size by 15%. You feel you are eating more, but you aren’t.
In the meantime, the soup, while softening the rice, enrich it with flavors and aroma, making it an even more pleasurable eating experience.
This is almost close to the concept of congee – something that you can eat 1 whole litter with <500 calories.
Slow cooked chicken soup poured into the rice bowl.
The seafood congee that is super filling and super light.
Don’t worry about calories. If the food is fresh, natural, and cooked with a moderate amount of fat and sugar, you’ll rarely hit the calorie ceiling before feeling full. In fact, chances are you’ll naturally create a substantial gap.
Do keep asking yourself “am I full yet?” Then feel it, and wait for a few seconds before answering.
Gradually, you will regain the real contentment and become comfortable with following the need of your body vs the numbers.
Note that the only thing to focus on during this practice is how your stomach feels.
If the taste buds aren’t pleased, avoid compensating yourself by adding up the food quantity as many people unconsciously do.
Just stop, then go for another recipe next time.
Lesson #3. Do This to Say “Buh-Bye” to Sugar and Never Look Back (Part 1/2): Your Bitter Sweethearts
It’s 3 in the afternoon, and you are in the office. After half a day of intensive number crunching, research, and meetings, you start feeling tired and bored.
At this moment, your work bestie comes by, handing you a cookie.
Yum, this gets you excited! But you know you sort of have some discipline to follow.
So within the next 2 minutes, all you do is debating in mind: “should I have it, or not?”
Eventually, you think “I’ll just indulge once.” And within minutes, the cookie is down in your stomach.
Usually, the story doesn’t stop here.
After having that first cookie, a thought comes up: “since I’ve already broken the rule for today, I’ll just forget about the disciplines for now and start over tomorrow.”
Then you ask your bestie for another, or walk to the fully loaded, colorful vending machine conveniently standing at the corner, crying for dollars.
How many time did it happen when you can’t talk yourself out of enjoying a piece of sweetness?
“How can I not eat that thing DAMN IT!!!” The question makes your stomach churn.
America is combatting a flood of sugar.
According to Euromonitor, the average American eats 126.4g sugar per day. That’s close to 5 times of the amount eaten by an average person in China (28.3g). The American Heart Association recommends a woman to have 25g sugar a day.
The 2015 Washington Post article that quoted the Euromonitor data didn’t specify what “sugar” means in this particular context. But according to StatNews, in 1999 American’s average consumption of sweeteners (refined cane sugar and corn syrup) was already 111g a day.
So we can be positive that “sugar” specifically means sweeteners (those that aren’t from natural food but from coke, cakes, syrup etc.) in the data, and let’s call it “added sugar” below.
The consequence of the ultra-high sugar intake? You’ve seen it.
So how can you end the sugar craving?
Many western health experts advocate upping your protein and fiber intake, lowering carbs intake, exercising and taking supplements.
But are carbohydrates really the key issue here? Yes, until the trend switches again.
Are supplements really that awesome? Still a myth.
What I’d like to do here is to share with you some tested natural remedies that help us eliminate that craving for sweet.
The first one: eat bitter foods.
Don’t feel tricked yet. The truth is you are eating many bitter foods and probably loving them now, including cauliflower, bitter melon, lime, grapefruit, broccoli, orange, Chinese herbal tea, arugula, olives, Brussel sprouts, sweet potato, cranberries, and kale.
Except for one or two of them that might be a bit exotic, most are closely accessible in any supermarkets and grocery stores.
They are considered bitter foods for the bitter elements in their flavor. And bitter, besides yummy, can help you naturally lose weight and forget your sugar craving.
“Unbelievable! Yet how can you be sure about it?” — You ask.
At first, I wasn’t.
As I mentioned before, I grew up eating a lot of home-cooked foods with a great variety of vegetables and fruits.
One of them has been particularly off-putting to me – the bitter melon. When eaten alone, the melon was so bitter that I dreaded it almost like the medicine (medicine in China weren’t sugarcoated as much). But my parents persistently cooked it twice a week because of my grandma who lived with us and had high blood pressure and high blood sugar at that time.
Bitter melon cooked with fermented beans – my mom’s most delicious bitter melon dish.
Many Chinese know that bitterness in the bitter melon was the remedy for lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol. The belief comes from the millennia-old Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) scripts that have been relied upon and tested by generations and generations for thousands of years.
Luckily, my mom – like most moms in China – had a way to make it mouthwatering.
When cooked right and paired with the right ingredients, the melon gives such a calming feel, and the bitter tastants, which become subtle all in sudden, can enhance the flavors and aroma of the entire dish!
Most surprisingly, I could feel that I didn’t desire candies anymore. And it was so memorable because my mom would always joke with me when passing by the candy aisle in the stores: “once we pass this aisle, we aren’t coming back. Think twice.” Then I’d still move ahead.
This super power of bitter melon, as I slid back into the Chinese-style eating when I was naturally losing weight, reappeared glaringly.
And not to mention my grandma’s cholesterol and blood sugar levels were both lowered.
Much later, Organic Authority published this article that summarized benefits of bitter melons. And Judy at The Woks of Life has this delicious beef with bitter melon stir-fry recipe which sparks up a different, beautiful sensation compared to what I had at home, thanks to China’s very inclusive, diverse cuisine culture. You can read the comments on their page to get a feel of it.
The recipe for this dish can be found here at the Woks of Life.
Other than the bitter melon, another bitter food that I have every-day experience with is the herbal tea.
In Asia, people aren’t strange with the idea of pairing herbal tea with a light dose of dessert, and we have a name for it – “teassert” (茶点）
The picture below was taken back in 2009 by the window in our living room in Nanjing. My dad and I loved having this small setup every Saturday afternoon by the view of the Qinhuai River – a city moss that was constructed around the old fortress at least 1600 years ago.
We would chat about everything – from life experience, health, history, culture, and new technologies to the Taoism philosophy (Lao Tzu from 5th Century BC and late Dr. Wayne Dyer’s teaching), and the tea with the teassert had to be a part of every breezy, joyous conversation.
Each bite of teassert is followed by a few sips of the herbal tea. And the sweet, dissolved in the fragrance of the freshly made tea, never lingers.
Craving is out of sight.
Tea with teassert in Japanese setting.
Tea with teassert in Korean setting.
But if the benefits of bitter foods to curb sugar craving were just from my personal experience, I wouldn’t have devoted an entire section to this seemingly unusual idea.
In fact, it didn’t take me long to see the meeting place among the ancient Chinese wisdom, the Western science, and my 31-year food and health experience and observations.
In 2013, a study called “A Spoonful of Bitter Helps the Sugar Response to Go Down” by researchers at University of Texas was published in Neuron – a leading Science publication.
This study showed how “the bitter tastants turn off the drive to consume sugar” through the suppression of the sugar neuron activity.
In a 2015 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers not only once again confirmed bitter food inhibits sugar craving but also discovered on the deep level how both bitter-sensitive cells and sugar-sensitive cells played a role in it.
By then, bitter foods’ ability to put off sugar craving became not only an established argument but also a foregone conclusion.
And it doesn’t stop here.
In another 2013 study “Facial Affective Reactions To Bitter-Tasting Foods And Body Mass In Adults”, scientists confirmed that dislike of bitter foods is linked to higher body mass.
The research specifically looked at why people who are overweight or at the risk of becoming overweight eat differently than the thinner people.
The result validates the hypothesis that liking bitter-flavored foods means the tendency to eat a lot healthier foods.
There are many other studies around the similar topic with cohesive, consistent conclusions. And if you are interested, check the NIH (National Institute of Health) site to have a look.
In the traditional East Asian culture, bitterness is considered virtuous as it empowers a person’s spirit and prevents him from getting lost in the hedonic pleasure, which smothers ambition and will.
It is historically documented that King Goujian of the Yue State from 2500 years ago, to fight back the territory that he lost in the war to King Fuchai of the Wu State, tasted the painfully bitter animal gut every night to be reminded of the humiliation and his very ambition.
Three years later, he led an expedition against Wu, laying siege to the capital, conquered the Wu army that was trained by Sun Tzu (the saint behind “Sun Tzu’s Art of War). King Fuchai killed himself in despair and repentance.
Almost every primary school kid in China knows this story. The point is to teach them how bitterness can toughen a person’s mind and spirit, just as much as how sweet and hedonic pleasure can lead them to failures, numbness, and a waste of life.
In the case of health and body, bitterness does the same to us.
Using the “teassert” technology, people have been achieving real results and muted sugar craving effortlessly.
If you don’t have fresh herbal tea leaves, tea bags like Tazo green tea is fine.
Lesson #3. Do This to Say “Buh-Bye” to Sugar and Never Look Back (Part 2/2): Those Hidden Sweet Foes
Earlier, I’ve shown you the deliciously bitter way to fight sweet with bitter.
It’s a great natural way to mute the sugar craving, yet it doesn’t solve the problem of high sugar intake just by itself.
Often time, we eat extra added sugar without knowing it because we are facing these sugary enemies in disguise of good names.
Let me explain what I mean.
I still remember Dole fruit bowl TV commercial telling the audience to drink it, not drain it because it’s 100% natural juice. And when I heard their slogan “Dole fruit bowls, the only national brand packed in 100% real fruit juice,” I believed it.
Then I bought a pack of the fruit bowls, looked at the label, it says 18g sugar each bowl.
It didn’t feel right. So I went to check the nutrition information of a large sized orange, and this is what Google told me:
This small can of “natural fruit and juice,” with only 4-5 pieces of real orange, has 50% more sugar than a whole fruit?
I knew I was lied to again.
If you go to the drink aisle at the grocery store, you’ll see a lot of seemingly healthy tea drinks there.
However, whenever the word “drink” comes after “coffee” and “tea,” it usually implies certain undesirable features – especially added sugar – besides the sarcasm.
For instance, Italians call Starbucks coffee “drinks,” sarcastically.
Some of the tea and coffee drinks have lower sugar content than coke, but they are far from being innocent.
A small bottle of them already gives you close to 20g added sugar a day.
And just to put things into context, that’s about all the sugar that an average Chinese eats according to the Euromonitor data shared above
For tea, the best option is always to drink the pure herbal tea and let its natural aroma charm you.
Yogurt is another trap.
Look at the amount of sugar in a small cup of yogurt below – it’s 18g, almost the same with Coke of the same size!
When the health industry preaches the whole world about eating more yogurt for the gut and digestive health, we are encouraged to consume more added sugar.
In addition to these examples, other red flags include energy drinks, sports drinks, protein drinks, granola/cereal bars, and fruit juice, etc.
The list is long, but just by being more attentive, all the added sugar will show under the spotlight.
So how do you transform your days from added-sugar-addict into added-sugar-free, without compromising satisfaction?
Use this 2-step Sugar Wipe-Out strategy:
Step #1. Introduce other flavors – the truth is: you don’t need to eat 126g added sugar a day (the average American daily consumption) to be happy.
If you are eating a lot of added sugar already, a quick win is to halve the amount first by replacing the sugary food with multi-flavored food. It’s these foods that satisfy you the most.
Step #2. Upgrade the remaining sources of sugar. For instance, instead of drinking fruit juice with concentrate, switch to 100% fruit juice or – even better – fresh fruits.
This allows you to wipe out the remaining added sugar in your diet. Besides eating a great variety of domestic fruits, don’t be afraid of going exotic – Korean pear, Thai mango, Taiwanese papaya, Fuji apple, and Chinese lychee, etc.
Nothing can beat natural and fresh.
2-3 servings of fresh fruits a day will hydrate, fill and nourish you with loads of vitamins and antioxidants.
Their amazing benefits don’t just stop here.
In the 2001-2008 Health Survey for England that covered 65,226 participants, researchers found people consuming 7 portions of fresh vegetables and fruits a day had 42% less risk of all-cause mortality compared to those who ate less than one portion.
Among all causes, higher vegetable and fruit consumption was linked to 25% lower risk of cancer and 31% lower risk of heart disease or stroke.
In another study titled You Are What You Eat, researchers found vegetables and fruits, which are full of yellow and red plant-based pigments, can boost your attractiveness by giving you the healthier, rosier looking skin, making you look more attractive in just 6 weeks.
By naturally decreasing your sugar craving and gradually replacing sugar with natural, healthy, flavorful, whole foods, longevity, vitality, and beauty are all within reach.
Lesson #4. A Simple Concept That Blocks Away Fat
One of the biggest observation when I first came to the US was the massively different role that fat-based foods play in people’s daily life here, along with the entirely different psychology around it.
For many Americans, eating foods rich in fat is a lifestyle.
For instance, cheese and cream are inseparable parts of life. Family movie nights can’t happen without the buttered popcorns, a burger without 1-2 slices of cheese isn’t complete, and mozzarella strings are finger snacks that adults and children happily indulge on.
When you devour cheese, cream or any fat-based dressing in your food – like those in that burger, every titbit of them goes into your body.
Yumm…. Everything’s good.
To the Chinese, fat is only for the utility purpose (i.e. cooking) in general, and eating fat is nothing associated with pleasure, entertainment, or boredom.
For this reason, there are way fewer opportunities to eat fat-based foods in China, and the primary sources of them are the cooking oil, limited fatty tissues of the meat, and nuts that are only occasionally eaten.
Rarely do Chinese people, who enjoy natural foods that are far richer in flavors and textures, eat fat-based food just by itself. And such inventions like the deep fried mozzarella sticks weren’t nearly imaginable before I left China.
The different perception about fat-based food (utility vs. pleasure) answers the astronomical gap between the fat intake of people in the two countries.
According to Euromonitor, an average American eats 65.5g fat on a daily basis, an average Chinese eats 28.3g.
However, the Chinese don’t go out of their way to resist fat and keep it at bay.
To them, fat is not seen as a type of food; it’s simply a tool for cooking.
And even the limited cooking oil used ends up getting wasted.
Here is how it happens:
When someone does a stir-fry, he needs about 1-2 tbsp oil to get the skillet ready.
Mom carefully measuring oil before cooking starts
During the cooking process, juice from the food ingredients oozes out and mixes with the oil, creating the sauce, which usually sits at the bottom of the plate when people eat the dish.
Unless someone drinks it up (which rarely happens), a good portion of that sauce and the oil inside is still left intact.
The next stop for them is the trash can.
In the meantime, each dish is shared by a few people within the household, so everyone only gets a share of everything – including the oil.
A typical meal for 3, note that most oil is kept in the sauce which sits at the bottom and won’t be touched.
Does eating fat make you fat though?
Not necessarily, because food fat and body fat still have a wall in-between, and the way the body turns food fat into the body fat is infinitely complex, involving hundreds of different chemical reactions and dozens of nutrients.
However, high fat intake is linked to heart diseases and cancer, and it’s also linked to negative changes in the body’s thermogenesis – in plain words, the rate it burns/retains fat, or metabolism.
During China Study – the biggest nutrition study in history run by Oxford University, Cornell University, and Chinese central government which covers 650,000 objects in, it’s found out that the least active Chinese (people who sit all day long) consumes 30% more calories than the averages Americans while weighing 20% less.
“It must be the Asian genes” – you think.
Yet Dr. Campbell – the lead researcher of China Study and author of the – disagrees.
Instead, he believes it’s the diet that makes the difference.
The click: people who eat a high-fat, high-protein diets tend to retain more calories.
Unbelievable isn’t it?
Because ‘gurus’ have always marketed the idea that a high-fat, high-protein diets can accelerate metabolism.
That’s why we bought meat and dairy products like crazy and even followed some fad schemes like Atkins, South Beach, etc.
But this statement is clearly vetoed by the biggest nutrition study done in human history, with an unprecedentedly large sample pool.
Dr. Campbell also mentioned in the book that he didn’t just develop this conclusion based on the China Study per se. In fact, it was already formed during a series of other studies that he did.
China study just validated this finding again with its comprehensive dataset and analysis methods.
And guess what, all is consistent with the recent discovery that vegetarians who eat less fat usually have faster metabolism than non-vegetarians. We know that when it comes to BMI control, a small difference in daily metabolism makes the stark difference in the long run.
Meanwhile, this is perhaps why the Chinese government which has invested in hundreds of billions of dollars in national health and wellness initiatives in recent years, still suggests its citizens have a moderate amount of meat (50-100g per day) in their diet albeit the world’s decade-long high-protein low-carb trend.
But we do have a challenge.
For someone who has already eaten a high-fat diet for so long, how do you even start eating it more rationally?
One simple psychological shift can kick things around for you:
One simple psychological shift can kick things around for you:
Now, you need to rewire your brain and think of fat as a utility tool, not a source of pleasure, entertainment, or flavors.
You can have far better ways to get these.
And based on that, you can quickly draw a line regarding when to eat fat and how much fat to eat now. For instance – adding coconut oil into your cooking skillet should be a yes, eating mozzarella strings or adding a tablespoon of mayo to your sandwich is a clear no.
Note that I’m not asking you give up your comfort food – not a single part of this Guide is asking you to do so, and even I’m still eating chocolate on a relatively frequent basis.
Instead, what I want to do is to give you the awareness, which will allow you to find the healthy boundary between what’s necessary and what’s not, without hurting your contentment too much. (You will learn how it will NOT hurt your contentment in Part 6 / Principle #2 below.)
Most importantly, this new perception about fat will lead you to naturally embrace more whole, fresh, and naturally flavorful foods and move the processed, fat-drenched junks (i.e. French fries) out of your life.
“But isn’t fat essential for health though?” You ask.
Yes, unsaturated fat can help you absorb nutrients better, and it also improves your brain, nerve and heart functions.
You can get plenty of it from your daily cooking oil, lean meat, soybeans, rice/bread, and vegetables (yes, some are shocked to know plants contain fat, they do!)
Saturated fat and trans fat can create problems for you, and they mostly gather in the crowded junk food aisles in most grocery stores.
You can start decreasing your fat intake by switching to very healthy, clean, and delicious recipes.
There are plenty of food bloggers out there, and one of my favorites is Home Cooking Memories owned by Brandie. The girl shares a lot of simple, thoughtful, and delicious recipes, making everyone’s life a lot easier!
Below is my favorite Brandie dish. It’s delicious, and the good portion of protein and fiber keeps you fill full for long.
This Shrimp & Asparagus Stir-Fry with Lemon Sauce recipe is offered by Brandie @ Home Cooking Memories.
I’m going to ask you to do one magical thing now – drinking enough water.
Boring and lame as it might sound, the truth is you can’t afford not to especially if you want to lose weight because otherwise:
Your metabolism will slow down;
Your sugar cravings surge- after one chocolate, you’ll have another, then another, another, and another….
The toxins and allergens will accumulate in your body and give you that tired, bloated, and clogged feeling;
You’ll easily indulge on sugary beverages – soda of a million kind will keep you busy and make you mad at yourself;
You know any of these can sabotage your weight loss progress. And it doesn’t stop here.
In fact, being insufficiently hydrated can cause you to gain weight and get sick quickly.
Water helps maintain your body’s inner fluid balance, which is the key to managing inflammation.
And inflammation, as Dr. Josh Axe writes, is the cause of most diseases today from obesity to arthritis, diabetes to cancer.
So what’s holding you back from drinking more water?
If it’s boredom, I understand it.
So to fix the boredom, I want you to find ONE natural drink which you can love.
And I now announce that it’s the herbal tea – there are at least 86 types of them with very different characters and uses, it isn’t hard to find one to fall in love with.
Chinese tea ceremony
Also, creativity can kick in at any time – with the natural herbal tea leaves and aroma as the base, you can add lemon, peppermint, or anything you like to make the tea sparkle.
In Tip#3, I already showed you how tea helps to wipe out sugar cravings.
Here, I want to show you how it changes someone’s life.
My client and friend Chris, a founding team member of a billion-dollar company and a serial entrepreneur who’s currently focused on a new startup, has found great success in weight loss after falling in love with tea.
Chris adores Pu-Erh. Besides drinking tea, he’s passionate about studying the splendid tea culture from East Asia and through that, he has brought in a whole new, sparkling intellectual world into his life.
He drinks tea whenever he feels like it. The last time I asked him “how much do you drink in total a day?” He said: “I’m not sure, it’s probably 1-2 litters. I don’t count it; I just drink it.”
Loving tea so much, Chris is working on starting a tea meet-up group in Vancouver to make new friends who share the same passion for tea. This means he will share an amount of quality time with interesting people, learn new things from them, and who knows, he may do businesses with them.
See an ultra healthy habit forming in progress?
The REAL beauty in it: there’s no deliberation, self-persuasion, or deprivation.
In fact, you should fully embrace herbal tea to your life given how much your Asian sis and bros have got so many benefits from it generations after generations.
The positive outcomes are not limited to weight management.
And with mounting scientific evidence, we know that tea crushes inflammation ( the cause of most of the diseases today), fights cancer, and eliminates heart diseases.
With all that, tea helps us live life to the fullest by improving our heart, gut, digestive, and overall health. And it also gives us the smooth and bright skin with the rich amount of antioxidants that are densely packed in the tea leaves.
My passion for tea has never faded throughout years, and a cup of herbal tea is never missed when I’m working, reading a book, talking on the phone, watching TV, or meeting a new friend in Starbucks (I go by the warm green tea there).
It’s noteworthy to mention that Pu-Erh tea which Chris has fallen in love with is the champion for weight loss due to its superior weight reduction characteristics. Although they’ve just been discovered by the western scientists recently, people in China have been using them for many, many years.
To learn more, Teavivre, a tea platform for a group of tea lovers and aficionados from China, Canada, and France, have created a detailed guide to using Pu-Erh to lose weight.
So in my friend Chris’ story, drinking tea has not only helped him lose weight, feel better, but also got him new friends and many new opportunities in life.
Yet what are the new possibilities waiting ahead in your life?
Perhaps you don’t intend to develop such a sophisticated relationship with a drink, most likely you don’t need to either. But you know you’ll experience the following immediate results at least:
1. your waistline shrinking like crazy.
2. the bloated feeling gone.
3. the sugar craving gone.
4. more energy with less anxiety (which drinking coffee would cause.)
5. Feeling calm and clean inside.
Please love herbal tea, let yourself be infatuated with it, and spend your day next to a tea cup. The long-run rewards are massive, and you don’t want to be left out again….
But if you decide not to love tea and use other beverages for hydration and detoxing, do make sure it’s home-made, natural, clean, with ZERO amount of sugar/sweetener of any type. The purpose is to rule out any possible allergens in the drink.
Edit: soon after reading this guide, I’ve created another comprehensive guide on green tea – The Best Green Tea Tips For Losing 24 Pounds In A Year Naturally. Check it out and learn how to make the most out of the “slimming tea effect.”
You just woke up. It’s 7 o’clock in the morning and even though it’s early summer now, the morning is still a bit chilly.
This is the day the big presentation happens. You’ve prepared for it during the whole week. To make sure you don’t get late, you need to head out in 35 minutes.
As you quickly brush your teeth, an English muffin is sitting quietly in the toaster, enjoying the sauna.
Once you are done with the morning routine, you open the fridge and pick 1 slice of prosciutto to put it in your English muffin. Looks like something is missing. Ahh, ½ tbsp of cream cheese should add to the flavors – now it looks parfait!
Right next to your English muffin sandwich is the glass of warm water, which hydrates you while you are taking down every bite of the sandwich, lubricating the inside of your body with tingling, soothing warmth that wakes you up for the day.
Looking out of the window, the morning dews are lovely, and the neighborhood has just started its day.
Eating breakfast took you about 10 minutes. Now is 7:15 am, and you still have 20 minutes to get ready.
You put on the emerald green sheath dress you bought last week at Ann Taylor on a good deal. A black suit jacket goes perfectly with this dress and gives you the polished, professional look. “Look at this girl….” Your significant other passes by, complimenting how much he loves you in this apparel.
The clock is ticking, and it’s now 7:23 am. You walk to the mirror, proficiently put some liquid foundation on your face, and use the velvet lip color with a bold and vibrant statement.
It’s now 7:28 am.
You spend about 2 minutes to make your bed – nothing too serious, just making sure the duvet and sheets are flat and tidy.
As you walk into the living room, you pass the pantry, swiftly grabbing an apple and a small Hershey chocolate which you might entertain with some time in the afternoon.
Finally, you kiss your SO goodbye and head out of the door. It’s 7:35 am, and you are 5 minutes early.
Walking on the street, you know it will be another fully packed, eventful day. Thankfully, things you’ve working towards will happen, and you’ll be right on time for them.
THIS… is a perfect start.
I used to be obsessed with the fragrant, crispy, tender, and juicy grilled lamb skewers made by the Muslim people in the Chinese cities. Most of them are from the Xinjiang Province – China’s door to Central Asia.
Every day, my friends and I would gather at grill stand to chat and enjoy the lamb skewers together after school.
There is one grill stand that was only a few steps away from our high school. The chef is a super handsome guy probably in his mid-20s – exotic, Europeanish, Central Asian look, sophisticated, deep, brown eyes, perfect face couture, and a tall, fit body.
When he talked to me, the eye contact almost made my heart jumping out, and when he spoke Mandarin, he spoke it so softly and gently with the captivating, mystic accent.
He is a young, sexy Xinjiang man – a fantasy for thousands of millions of Han teenage girls like me.
“How spicy do you want them to be?” – this is not a question, it’s melody.
Needless to say, my high school girlfriends were crazy about him and one of the most popular after-school activity is to line up at the grill stand to greet the handsome and buy his food.
I was no exception when it comes to being an animalistic human being – just looking at his face and his food made me salivate, and his little aromatic, smoky hot grill stand was heaven.
Even today, that scene is still thought of often. But the reason isn’t my young, silly crush anymore but rather a myth:
How come eating hundreds and hundreds of the lamb skewers didn’t make me fat?
Let me give you a bit more context.
The lamb skewers are known for their greasiness which was brilliant for its taste and texture.
To optimize both, mixing in fatty tissues at a voluminous rate is a must. In order to prevent the meat from sticking to the stove and keep its moisture, the chef needs to flip it frequently and evenly brush a layer of oil on its surface.
Until the meat is well done, a few rounds of brushing are needed.
Different types of spices are lavishly spread on the food, sometimes we just call the lamb “cumin lamb skewers” because it’s the base spice used to maintain the base flavor. Chili powder is another spice that is frequently used, if you’d like some extra heat.
Xinjiang chefs and their grilled lamb skewers
So I guess my question – to be precise – is:
How come all the fatty tissues, and the dripping oil didn’t make us fat? Speaking about hundreds of girls in our school who fervently pleased the young chef by devouring the sizzling, tender, and voluminous lamb meat.
As I felt the irresistible urge to be back on top of my nutrition and understand all the mystery behind food, this question started to haunt me even more. I scoured through everything I could find through a series of extensive research.
Not sure if I know exactly why yet, but there’s something that struck me:
Daily Teaspoon of This Spice Could Help You Lose 300% More Body Fat
Here’s one study that stood out:
Researchers at Iran’s Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences randomly split assigned 88 obese women into two groups, with 1 group consuming 3g cumin powder a day, and the other working as the control group, eating no cumin at all. All patients received the similar nutrition guidelines.
After three months, it was found that the group of women consuming 3g cumin per day has decreased their body fat percentage by 14.64% – almost three times as much as women who didn’t have cumin (4.91% fat loss).
How did they eat it? Simply by swirling 3g or it with their daily yogurt. That’s one teaspoon a day.
Certain foods have natural slimming power? This is AMAZING!
After discovering the mighty weight loss power of cumin, I speeded up my research and experimentation and formulated a list of food that can easily take weight loss and health to the next level.
Coincidently, a lot of these fat-burning food ingredients have already been stapled ingredients in our home-cooking years after years, and could that be a reason behind natural weight loss and maintenance?
Through skyrocketing your metabolism, defeating inflammation in your body, and curbing your appetite. I will show you the amazing facts in my subsequent writing.
I’m not a big fan of YouTube. Being in this fast-paced, chaotic world, I made myself the rule to live a minimalist life on the internet.
But there’s one person who makes me break this rule from time to time – Mark Wiens, founder of Migrationology, the world traveler, gourmet connoisseur, and vlogger based in Thailand who makes mouthwatering videos while experiencing food culture around the world.
The first time when I saw Mark reaching climax with foods (metaphorically speaking), I was laughing my tears out. That orgasmic facial expression he makes when devouring the voluptuous, tender sashimi and lobster is epic and unseen elsewhere!
In fact, watching Mark cooking and eating is both fun and inspirational – not only for seeing the cuisine in other places of the world but also for my own food life to flourish.
Mark enjoying his food, just looking at face makes me hungry.
Why? Because he uses herbs and spices in his cooking all the time! Asian people LOOOVE herbs and spices, and I’m keen to learn new ways to cook with them that create surprising results in my kitchen!
There are 2 major reasons why they fascinate me:
- The heavenly flavors and aroma they bring to the food make life a lot easier for an amateur cook like me – they make everything delicious!
- They come with a broad range of health benefits – from curing nausea to breaking cancer by clearing inflammation (as I told you before!)
My mini herb garden
Cooked my favorite Mark Wiens dish (Thai Basil Chicken) using the basil in the mini herb garden. For any times in the past month, if I was not eating this dish, I’m looking at my basil shrub thinking of it and drooling.
And if you read about my silly, puppy crush on the cute lamb guy, you know THEY SLIM YOU DOWN LIKE CRAZY – through increasing your metabolism, blood circulation, and forbidding the new formation of fat cells!
It means you are burning more fat even without moving more. People who tried it have found it awe-inspiring!
Here let me share with you the fat-melting stories of some the herbs and spices which have been long-time love for Chinese people.
2 out of the 4 of them shared here are used daily in China. The other 2, although not daily used, are used very frequently.
Many people haven’t realized that Ginger is scientifically proven to suppress obesity. It also helps to promote the feeling of satiety without affecting metabolic parameters, helping you cut the extra calories without starving.
In the meantime, its use as a natural diuretic can help you get rid of excess body fluids and become lighter fast!
Garlic plays an influential role in melting fat too. In a clinical trial done by the Isfahan University of Medical Science in Iran, researchers randomly split 110 patients with the nonalcoholic fatty liver disease into two groups – one of the groups had 400 mg garlic powder given to them each day. The energy intake and nutrition of these two groups were similar and consistent throughout the study.
After 15 weeks, patients eating garlic has shown the significantly greater decrease in body weight compared to the other group even though the energy intake was the same.
The key, as the researchers analyzed, was the anti-obesity thermogenesis effect of garlic, which increases the oxygen consumption of the body and improves the metabolic parameters of the body.
What does this mean? It means your metabolism rate is improved.
The same result is consistently seen in a number of other studies including this one done by researchers in South Korea.
Previously, I’ve mentioned Cumin’s mind-blowing fat-burning power. The most famous experiment that proved it involved 88 overweight and obese women.
In that experiment, researchers divided them into 2 groups.
One of the group was asked to take 3g cumin a day; the other group wasn’t. Both groups followed the same nutritional guideline, and three months later, the fat loss result of the group who took cumin was 3 TIMES as much as the other group.
Think about it – that’s one spice, 300% fat loss!
Meanwhile, rarely do people realize the powerful slimming power of black pepper – a frequently used spice on our dinner table!
Here’s what happens on the backstage: piperine, the active principal in black pepper, is proven to hinder the development of new mature fat cells, decrease cholesterol level, and free fatty acids. You can find two examples of quite a few scientific papers which consistently showing the result here and here.
So far, you’ve already known four high-performing fat-melting herbs and spices that you can easily work with. You won’t believe how spectacular these spices can help you easily shed pounds. Actually, another entrepreneur I look up to, Nagina Abdullah, has built her entire business around the concept of using spice as a key ingredient to lose weight. It has been a grand success.
Beyond these four spices, there are more with the similar effects, but rather than getting overwhelmed by a long list of names, how about taking things a bit by bit?
Here’s the easiest way to use them: get these herb and spice concentrates, start by incorporating 1 tbsp of anyone of them into your diet each day.
You can add them to your food or swirl them into your smoothie.
Nothing too complicated, just 1 tbsp of each would be a good start.
Or, if you have Triple-A Personality and want them together for quadrupled effects, try the dish below with all four in it.
As the old saying goes, the whole is greater than all parts combined.
“But nice guys are so boring!” – His client said.
“So are vegetables.” – Evan answered.
Really? I put down my phone and paused. There is no way vegetables could be boring in my book. In fact, I – and most of my Chinese fellows – probably eat five times as much as the vegetables an average person eats in the US.
And it doesn’t mean we are sitting there devouring raw leaves for the whole day.
We have our creative ways to quickly and happily enjoy 5X more vegetables in no more time.
Step one is knowing this: leafy greens shrink dramatically – by up to 80% – during the cooking process.
Raw bok choy got prepared – it’s about a whole gallon
Once cooked, it nicely fits into a medium sized plate.
So by American standard, Chinese eat an enormous amount of vegetables every day because a leafy green entrée at lunch or dinner comes from a whole gallon of raw greens.
And most importantly, we make them very delicious, juicy, flavorful, and interesting! It’s to satisfy both our body and our mind.
To the Chinese, food is heaven. Vegetables are no exceptions.
A typical 3-person meal my mom cooked. Out of 4 entrees (soup doesn’t count), 2 are pure vegetables, 2 has a portion of protein in it – bean curd for one, eggs for the other.
My mom cooked all the dishes in the picture above. But for the busy, young people like us, it’s mission impossible to have four entrees at dinner.
So I’ve found a solution to simplify it.
For each dinner, I would do only one large-sized entree with a lot of fresh ingredients in it, 2-3 types each time, coupled with some high-quality protein, and some highly flavorful aromatic herbs and spices. The benefit is to have all at one time.
So far it’s been great because it’s highly manageable. Cooking for two meals just takes 20-25 minutes.
ALAS! No more boring salads! Eating the delicious, finely prepared vegetable dishes allows me to eat 300-500% more vegetables than I would if eating salad.
Since I was young, I’ve known I carried a lot of ‘inner heat’ by the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctors in China.
What is inner heat?
It means I have FIRE inside of me.
It’s not the real burning fire, but a metaphoric term that the TCM practitioners use to describe hyperactivity within the body which is, in their words, caused by the imbalance of ‘yin and yang.’
As a result of that, it was common for me to be easily dehydrated, feel dry inside, have acnes, mild swelling, digestion problems, and that bloated feeling, etc.
Confusing? I know!
So to figure out what it is in plain English, I spoke to a few western TCM practitioners who also have profound knowledge in western medical science.We concluded that for the purpose of this discussion, it’s safe for us to think of it as inflammation.
This is not precisely accurate, and the truth is that inner heat causes inflammation. However, inner heat and inflammation do share a significant overlap regarding the consequences.
In case you aren’t familiar with inflammation, it’s your immune system’s natural response to injuries and allergens – when it’s out of balance and becomes hyperactive, it causes trouble.
And as mentioned in my previous writing, modern science has identified inflammation as the cause of most diseases in today’s world – from arthritis to cancer, obesity to heart diseases, asthma to diabetics.
More than that, there’s a sad vicious cycle here:
at this moment, it’s the known fact that Inflammation causes you to put on weight, and weight gain causes more inflammation in return.
So inflammation level PREDICTS weight gain – when your insulin is messed up, it prevents your brain from realizing you are full.
And your body tends to retain more extra fluids because of inflammation. That causes additional weight gain.
So next time when you notice that you get hungry easily or can’t lose weight smoothly after doing everything right, think of inflammation as a potential reason.
How can we wipe it out?
Using foods. Not all of them, but some that are hyper-effective on killing it right on the spot. I call them “coolers.”
When you apply the coolers, the first thing you’ll notice is almost immediate weight loss (because it clears the water weight right away).
Therefore, assume you are an average American woman who weighs 166 lbs, and you want to lose 30 pounds. Getting rid of 5 pounds of water retention means to flush off 16.7% of the weight you want to lose.
Your body will look instantly different after 5 lbs of puffiness is gone, and that can happen within days.
The more you eat these foods, the more you’ll realize that you aren’t as hungry anymore. You’ll crave sugar less, your energy level will become higher, and your waistline will shrink further.
Now before I dive into these foods, I do want to give you a disclaimer:
Even though I use the fusion of ancient Asian wisdom and modern Western science to solve the weight problem, I do make sure what I include here is fully backed by science – as you may see already – even though a part of it may sound a little…let’s just say… “pleasantly exotic” 🙂
Now, what are these magical pills that will help? There’s a list of them, but for you to get started, let me tell you the most powerful 3.
- Mung Beans.
(photo credit: Martine @ Petit World Citizen)
You might have never heard of them. These little beans usually sit on the aisle of your neighborhood’s Asian market if there is one. But in case you don’t have one nearby, you can get them easily on Amazon.
In China, mung beans are the pantry staple of most families for an everyday drink – the mung bean soup, which cools you off during the scorching summer days, protecting you from sunstroke, and keeping the stress level low.
How? Through its superior cooling and cleansing abilities.
The tradition of using mung beans as the summer everyday drink has existed for at least hundreds of years, and its cooling effect has been documented in the millennia-old TCM scripts, which are avidly studied by people from around the world nowadays.
And let me tell you a true story of these little, legendary beans.
Within the United States, there are more than 700,000 people contracting sepsis every year. Previous statistics have shown that almost 50% of these patients end up dying from it.
In the course of finding a solution, scientists experimented feeding the patients the mung bean concentrate.
Result? It has consistently led to 35% decline in mortality rate during the past four years, through heavily regulating inflammation – literally saving thousands of lives.
I have been using mung beans regularly to balance inner heat and treat inflammation for years. It was my mom who used to make it for the whole family. Now it’s my husband because he cooks the best mung bean soup (and having him do that makes him feel good).
What I particularly like about the mung beans are how delicious they are, and the thoroughly soothing, cooling, and calming feeling that instantly captivates you even at the very first sip. Sometimes, they can well make a cleansing meal if you put enough beans in it.
Cooking the mung beans is very simple, and there can be various flavors out of different combos.
In case you would like some variation, check this recipe out made by Martine – a global health professional and a mom who has a strong interest in traveling wild and eating well.
Martine’s mung bean soup
I have to admit that I’m relatively new to turmeric because they aren’t used as an everyday spice as widely in my home city in China as much as in South and Southeast Asia.
The only time I had it in China was when the TCM doctor prescribed it over the counter. In China, it’s treated as a medicine – a definite proof of its superior, natural medicinal value.
A few months ago, I was inspired to introduce it into my daily life by Liz Moody, the girl behind the artisanal and down-to-earth lifestyle blog Sprouted Routes who has been on a series of fascinating adventures – by being both a world gourmet roamer and a pretty decent tractor driver.
One day, I saw Liz made a turmeric latte in her lively, cozy NYC apartment. The next day, I had it in my Saratoga Springs kitchen that was just 3 hours away, and was all in sudden mesmerized by this smooth, calming feeling swirling down my spine.
Liz’s turmeric latte
It almost feels like when you have the hot stone massage, the instant relief that unfolds at that very moment when the first warm, smooth-faced stone is gently placed on the exhausted muscle on your back, releasing the long-time tension with the tender weight and calming warmth.
Within a second, you forget your roaring clients, pressing deadlines, and the lengthy task list.
And all you feel is your breathing and being.
The major differences between a hot stone spa and one tsp of turmeric powder: instead of warm, it’s cool, but they both give you that refreshing, soothing feeling.
Later, as I introduced turmeric into my diet more and more, I started to see more of its benefits rising.
The biggest improvement happened to my body’s digestion function. Along with that, my body doesn’t hoard extra water anymore, bloating is gone, and I feel cleaner and less burdened inside, which helps me focus better on things during the day and even makes my spirits higher.
It was later when I discovered that scientists have been advocating turmeric as an anti-obesity solution. The key is curcumin, the principal component of turmeric that has been consistently proven to fight fat and reduce obesity-related diseases by crushing inflammation.
It again boils down to cooling, cleansing, and relieving the body.
In case you are interested in reading more relevant scientific literature, here’s an in-depth view of turmeric therapeutic effects on the National Institute of Health website.
If you want to experience the spa feeling now, here’s Liz’s turmeric latte recipe.
Note: Turmeric is one of the bitter foods which might not appeal to everyone’s taste buds at the beginning. In my hometown in China, we don’t cook with it. And for daily consumption, I usually mix just 1-2 teaspoons of turmeric powder with some healthy drinks – it could be yogurt, a smoothie, or the mung bean soup for doubled anti-inflammatory effect. In the meantime, I plan to try this weeknight red curry recipe – it looks very delicious.
Weeknight Red Curry Recipe @ Bon Appetit
- Fermented foods.
Let me tell you a delicious secret:
when I crave something between my regular meals, snacking on some light, sour-flavored foods – like the Chinese or Korean kimchi – helps every time.
You can get Kimchi in the Asian market. If you are a cuisine lover who loves to experience the fun making your kimchi, Erin at Plating & Pairings shares how to make authentic kimchi here. This immaculate recipe wowed me.
In fact, kimchi works so well not only because it has only ten calories per serving.
More importantly, it’s fermented, and fermented foods are superb for weight loss, with loads of benefits that directly help with digestion, emotional well-being, brain function, skin, hormonal, and immune health.
How does it help with weight loss?
By clearing inflammation and improving gut health through balancing the microbiome – a vast community of bacteria in our gut that governs critical functions of our entire body!
To dig more into it, health coach and influencer Jon Gabriel has written a well-rounded article decoding why eating fermented foods can help you get a jumpstart on health.
From the previous part of this Guide, you already know that inflammation is the major roadblock which prevents many people from slimming down. And introducing fermented food into your diet is probably the easiest and most efficient way to tackle it – it’s easy, and it doesn’t take much time.
Chinese people use fermented food every day. We use soy sauce (made with fermented soy beans) as a main condiment for the food, Pu-Erh tea is widely popular and makes the whole-day drink for many, and families use Chinese kimchi (泡菜) as an appetizer before the meals.
You sure can have the same advantage by incorporating more of them into your life. Below is a list of them, find out 2-3 kinds which you are comfortable daily:
Miso, Kimchi, Kefir/yogurt, Pickles, Natto, Soy Sauce, Tempeh, Cottage cheese, Pu-Erh tea.
Continuing Part 1 of the case study series.
Great job this morning!
You delivered a brilliant presentation, and from there, you led a fruitful discussion with your colleagues.
You truly owned it!
Time passes fast. Now it’s 12:00 pm, time for lunch. Your first natural reaction used to be “no more than 400 calories for this meal.” After a few months of calorie-counting, this thought has become your second nature.
But today, you are breaking free from it by eating a healthy, nutritious, and satisfying lunch that you naturally relish.
So you go to the nearby Panera Bread – you haven’t been there much because foods here seem carbs-heavy. But today, you are here, hoping to explore the little wonderland that your friends have been raving about.
Quickly you made your choice: a steak & arugula sandwich with a chicken noodle soup on the side.
The sandwich is made of 2 slices of soft, whole-grain toasts, boasting a few slices of seared steak, and a good amount of veggies including arugula, vine-ripened tomatoes, plus the pickled onions, which are gently flavored with a light spread of garlic and herb cream cheese and mustard horseradish sauce.
You ordered the whole, which comes in 2 halves of good sizes.
It’s love at the first bite.
While you enjoy the food slowly, your taste buds are drowning in the inspirational sensations created by the freshly cut meat, the living, breathing green, the sparkling zest from the onion, plus the mild sourness in the juicy, cheerful baby tomatoes.
The cream cheese, only with a light amount, adds a little wow factor to it, boasting such an interesting flavor with a little bit of everything else!
The protein makes you full now, the fibers keep you full for longer. The onion provides a subtle, sweet flavor, which is perfectly balanced by the arugula’s slight bitterness.
There’s no added sugar, fat, or sodium, and the sandwich tastes just perfect.
Each bite of the sandwich comes with a few sips of the chicken noodle soup. You let the warm fluid calm and moisturize you from the inside, how satisfying and soothing!
You instantly feel the blissful connection among food, mind, and body. Your brain relishes it, and every bite creates a storm of sensation.
It’s 12:25 pm, you just had the last bit of the first half of the sandwich and now realized a thing:
Oddly – this time, you have no urge for grabbing the other half as you’d do in general.
There’s more mindfulness, more Zen. And you wrap up the second half of the sandwich for later then walk out of Panera.
The process is all natural, and there’s no deliberation.
Today, you’ve got a new idea for yourself: enjoy every sandwich.
If you have ever dieted, you’d know that losing weight and failing to lose weight can well be the work of your mind.
Think about the time when you got hit by the “all-or-nothing” mentality and couldn’t put that chocolate down.
Or the time you splurged on a “non-cheat day.”
Your motivation floundered.
And you keep blaming yourself, screaming “how could I lose control over myself again?!”
The truth is that you couldn’t control your mind because you didn’t know it well enough.
I’m not exaggerating here.
You see, I could have wrapped up the main body of the Guide at the end of Part 3 and told you the powerful techniques shared so far were all you needed to succeed.
Don’t get me wrong – they ARE real game changers. There’s no doubt, and I’ve already heard beta readers of this Guide tell me how they’ve lost weight within just a week of reading and practicing the lessons. Before I released this Guide, I had 500+ people read my final draft.
However, I couldn’t leave it just like that.
This is because I know if I don’t help you solve the real problem from within, you’d be only scratching the surface of the concept of permanent weight loss and inner freedom. That would defeat the purpose of this Guide, leaving my work incomplete.
It’s why I’ve decided to do something a little unconventional.
I want to show you the backstage of your mind and debunk the little, nasty tricks it has used to defeat you time after time.
You’ll even see how you can take advantage of this very trick, and rewire your physical experience while dismantling the cravings!
One day, I was flipping through my old notebook and saw this doodle on a page.
It’s weird because I don’t usually draw random things. So it got me curious – could these simple, random boxes mean something that I was experiencing?
Googling told me if someone doodles squares and boxes, it indicates he or she wants control of a situation.
As I know that was exactly what I wanted.
The takeaway? Everything we do – big and small – could have a message about us.
So what’s the inner drive for the actions we take?
Could our addiction to video games be a sign of stress, even if it never seems to bother us
Could OCD be caused by a traumatic childhood event which is now deeply buried in our memory?
And what makes us crave food?
I’m not sure if anyone has a perfect answer for that, but an experiment launched by BBC has been fascinating in telling some truth.
Here’s the basic set-up:
BBC randomly found 12 pairs of twins, split them into two groups so that the twin sisters and brothers were not in the same group.
Both groups were given the same, 200-calorie vanilla latte.
But here’s the twist: Group One received a drink that has the words “light, less than 200 calories” on the bottle.
Group Two received a bottle that says “enriched vanilla,” “900 calories”. Everyone was asked to drink it up in front of the camera.
After 2 hours, when the researchers went back to everyone surveying how they feel, the result was surprisingly and unanimously divided.
Those who believed they drank a light drink all felt hungry. “I’m starving now!” – one lady exclaimed.
On the other hand, those who thought they had an extravagant splurge on a 900-calorie latte all claimed they are full. “I feel I don’t need to eat anything else during the day” is what the researchers often heard.
Voila! Just with a titbit of information can trick our biology into helping us cheat!
So if you tell yourself that you’ve had a heavy meal while it’s light, and make yourself believe it, you’d feel overstuffed and bloated immediately, and all the hunger signals will stay off during the next couple of hours.
How cool is that?!
If only you were that gullible.
But the fact is we can’t trick ourselves when knowing the trick, except you do it this way:
Eating visually delightful, voluminous meals that are low in calories.
And nope, I’m not talking about eating non-fat and low-fat foods. According to the same principle, just by seeing the “low-fat” labeling would encourage overeating by 50% because it makes you feel you aren’t eating much.
What I’m referring to is the look of your meal – a full plate with lots of fresh, colorful, well-proportioned ingredients that come with a generous size.
Note the focus isn’t calories – don’t count! – but the volume and your very first reaction should be “wow this is a hell lot of food!” just by looking at the plate.
A full bowl of “zoodles” (zucchini noodles) with shrimp and lemon zest – it looks huge, rich, and very delicious! Kelli at Hungry Hobbies always surprises me with her simple, artistically designed recipes.
Remember Panera Bread’s steak & arugula sandwich that was just mentioned earlier in Part 2 of Your Epic First Fat-Melting Day story?
In the story, you finished half of the sandwich plus a cup of chicken noodle soup.
If you visualize the meal, that part of the sandwich you ate is about 2” x 5” x 3” in size, enough to occupy your stomach space already. With a cup of liquid, you should feel full.
This newfound awareness of how your stomach and body feels is a form of mindfulness. And it’s the key to recovering from the chronic dieting mindset that you could be experiencing.
Oh, by the way, I didn’t mention it in the story though, but just to give you an idea, that sandwich half, plus a whole cup of that chicken noodle soup, was about 300-350 calories. And it might well be filling.
But what would happen if I told it’s a 300-calorie sandwich before you had the meal?
Mindfulness could subdue, that will ruin the whole experiences will because you might have decided for yourself that a meal under 400 calories is “too light.”
The result is the lingering psychological hunger, plus more eating.
A quick, lightly cooked, and delicious dinner at home for me and my husband during a weekend – the entree bowl is 9” diameter, the plate is similar sized, the rice bowl is 4” diameter. We couldn’t finish all the food, and I only had 400 calories worth of food but felt like I ate 800 calories.
I don’t have any siblings. Some of you might have heard of the One-Child Policy which was in effect in China from 1979 to 2009.
Years ago, realizing how severe the low fertility problem was spreading over the country and accelerating population aging, the Chinese government decided to make a change, by telling its people “right now, you can have two kids.”
Surprisingly, it was not very well received.
And the young Chinese people theses days have figured out one thing:
one is the best, and it’s enough.
More kids mean more expense, more responsibilities, less free time, and less marginal pleasure.
This phenomenon is probably light-years away from the world you are living in, and it’s probably something you’d never think you could relate to.
But you can.
When you are picking up the second chocolate bar, you should always repeat this mantra in mind, which echoes among hundreds and millions of sisters and brothers in the far east:
“One is enough.”
And at best, repeat it three times because a mantra can calm your mind.
Why is it even relatable to you?
Because snacking and having kids have something in common:
The diminishing return – the more you snack, the less incremental pleasure you get.
In fact, it’s ZERO – ZERO incremental pleasure in the case of the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth chocolate bar. If the first cannot satisfy you, the millionth won’t.
Researchers at Cornell University proved this in a study including 104 adults/subjects.
Their study showed that having a small, 195-calorie snack and having a gigantic, 1370-calorie one showed ZERO difference between the level of satisfaction gained. 15 minutes after snacking, people “just remembered they had a tasty snack.”
Don’t just fall for what I’m telling you here, test it.
Whenever you crave the chocolate, a cookie, or something else, take one bite, then wait for 15 minutes.
When the “all-or-nothing” mentality hits you again, keep this in mind.
“I’m an emotional eater, and I eat when I’m bored.”
Is that you?
If so, where do you think that boredom comes from?
(10 seconds later)
“I don’t know …I guess I’m bored, and snacking is unconscious. I don’t even realize it sometimes.”
I’ve heard this answer countless times.
And let me tell you what might be happening:
As much as about 80% emotional eaters I’ve personally spoken to don’t realize that they only have these excess cravings because their regular meals are not satisfying.
Tasteless, bland, boring foods are NOT satisfying. Asian people know that very well, and for millennia, they’ve emphasized on not only the flavors but also the aroma of the dishes they make.
But here’s the thing about us in the western world:
We often think of a meal as a “routine” to fulfill our physical need and keep us alive. Eating is transactional, and we often overlook the emotional satisfaction that usually comes from delicious, enjoyable, and interesting meals.
It happens when you are rushing a lunch, talking over the phone when having dinner, or watching TV while eating. We don’t even know we have an emotional need associated with food.
So we have this void in us unfilled – whereabouts unknown. When the boredom flares up, we head toward the snack jar and take out chocolate without realizing this “unconscious” move is the most natural response to a subconscious need that has always be underserved.
This is the root of this mysterious boredom.
And the best cure is making food a little bit theatric – just a little bit.
Before, I told you I love to eat sour-flavored food when craving something (yes, skinny, healthy people have cravings too, and it’s normal).
This is because sour is interesting – it isn’t as simple, plain and straightforward as sweet or salty. Instead, it’s complex, multi-layered, stimulating, puzzling, and it challenges the taste buds just a little bit, with a lingering aftertaste that keeps intriguing you and makes you forget the boredom.
It’s subtle, but it’s emotionally satisfying enough to put off the cravings.
If you want to try the sour foods, what can you eat?
Citrus, lemon, pickles, kimchi, or any other light, natural and naturally made foods. And remember we said earlier fermented foods like kimchi could help you lose weight by killing inflammation and improving your digestive health? One stone for two birds it is.
And if you want to be fun and creative, this light citrus margarita by Gina at Skinny Taste can be an awesome idea.
light citrus margarita by Gina
Apparently, sour food isn’t the only solution, and it isn’t for everyone. In fact, any flavorful food will give you the same mental satisfaction.
So the bottom-line is to make your regular meals a little bit more exciting, and once you become emotionally joyous about the foods you eat, you’ve eliminated one major trigger of cravings.
So far I’ve been sharing with you the positive sides of the Chinese food culture. But do you know what I hate about it?
No one believes in dishwashers.
So if you are invited to join a Chinese family for dinner, you’ll see them using the dishwasher as another thing – dish rack.
And when I was watching this part of ABC’s comedy show Fresh off Boat, I couldn’t help but admire how the producer could capture our frugality with such precision.
Yup, we love doing things with our own hands.
But it doesn’t mean we are inefficient though. In Urban Dictionary, the term “Asian efficiency” is actually defined as “the pinnacle of human productivity and efficiency.”
It means we are brilliant at finishing our work early, solving an equation fast, and of course, cooking in less time.
Today, let me share a bit of Asian Efficiency with you, by showing you how to prepare and cook five days of meals in less than 90 minutes.
Knowing how to prepare and cook food efficiently is so important because for many people, not being able to do this is the culprit of their healthy-eating and weight-loss failure.
And a lot of people have been regularly wasting money, time, and food because of inefficient planning.
Now I’ll show you how to get rid of such headache.
First, a few basic things you need:
1. Foolproof, quick, healthy, clean, delicious recipes. 3-5 is enough to begin.
2. A weekly menu – nothing too crazy, just map out what you want to eat for lunch and dinner. To make it simpler, use dinner leftover for the next day’s lunch.
3. Kitchen widgets – a large skillet for the quick stir-fry; a slow-cooker for the slow stew/soup, and food processors that help you prepare food faster.
4. Time blocked on your schedule for preparing food.
Here’s the key: do things in a way that’s compatible with your schedule and lifestyle, or it won’t last long.
Regarding how to prepare your meals, there are three options, and each gives you a workflow that fits a particular work style you have.
Option 1. The happy cheetah’s way
Make food this way if you prefer eating freshly made food often, and you are interested in doing some light, minimal cooking during the weekdays.
Step 1. Buy food and prepare it (wash and cut) during the weekend.
Step 2. Dump everything into your pan/slow cooker and cook.
What’s the efficiency catch here?
You see, preparing food is the most time-consuming step when it comes to making a meal – it can take more than half of the cooking time! But if you do it all together, it’s actually way easier.
There’s no myth about it, just the simple division of labor. But it can save you a lot of time, and imagine when you are so tired when coming back at home from work, all you need to do is dumping ingredients into the pan and get everything cooked in 5-10 minutes. How cool is that?!
To make it even easier, you can cook two meals (dinner and lunch) together and eat fresh every day. Not bad right?
Option 2. The caveman’s way.
You can use the Cavemen’s method when you have relatively relaxing weeknights and can spend more time (over 30 minutes) on making your food each day.
Why “caveman”? Because they have plenty of time, and they eat right after food is prepared and cooked (no fridge).
So instead of preparing and cooking foods at different times, you do it all together.
You almost double the time spent on making food as compared to The Cheetah’s Way. Advantage? Cooking-free weekends.
Option 3. The honeybee’s way
If you are too busy to cook during the weeknights or have a highly unpredictable schedule (which I bet a lot of you do), the honeybee’s way is for you.
This option is about bulk preparation. It means you’ll need to spend 1.5 hours on a Sunday or Saturday, buy food, prepare and cook them, then put them into containers then store them in the fridge.
It’s 1.5 hours of intensive labor and can get a little crazy sometimes. Downside? You aren’t eating fresh most of the time, plus loads of containers you’ll need to use.
Gina Harney, the girl behind Fitnessista, once wrote a detailed, easy-to-follow article that teaches you how to do it from scratch.
However, I do want to give you more value by showing you some tips to make the whole process a lot easier.
Tip 1. Don’t go crazy on cooking too many different entrees. Stick with 2-3. Keeping a small scale is going to decrease time involved in shopping, preparing, and cooking.
However, it doesn’t mean you are sacrificing variety. The key is to find simple recipes that have various healthy, clean ingredients.
Tip 2. Use tools. For example, if I am to cook three entrees, I can do one stir-fry, one stew, and one multi-ingredient soup. So I’m practically only doing only one because the slow cooker is handling the stew while the soup is cooked in the stock pot on the stove.
It’s a lot simpler.
Tip 3. Do not include breakfast prep into the craziness. I know many people advocate for doing five days of all three meals in one sitting. However, the downside is that you might quickly get burnt out and never want to do food prep again.
Breakfasts, although important, don’t need to be complicated. For example, I like English muffin + prosciutto + just a bit of cream cheese. It can be done in literally 5 minutes. If not eating this combo, I’m probably having the Raisin bran cereal plus some almond milk. It only takes 1 minute to make.
Now you’ve seen all three options. Do you think you are the honeybee, the cheetah, or the caveman?
I’m the cheetah. Shopping takes me 20 minutes as I know exactly what I want and where they are in the stores nearby.
Preparing food usually takes me no more than 15 minutes because I only make 4-5 simple entrees throughout the week.
Every day, I just spend only 5-10 minutes on cooking (it’s usually a quick stir-fry plus a clear soup). So my weekly time expenditure is 90 minutes max for shopping, preparing, and cooking food.
“What about breakfast?” – You ask.
I don’t plan for breakfasts because I already have fixed three combos to make. It’s already a no brainer.
The end words: if you are a beginner on meal planning, what matters here is forming a healthy routine based on SIMPLICITY- anything else, including variety and delicacy, can be improved throughout time.
When starting to embrace it, find 3-5 really good recipes, get familiar with them for the first few weeks, then add another 1per week after. As you do more, things will become smooth and easy.
Gradually, you’ll form a system that includes conveniently reusable meal plans, shopping lists, food combos, and a workflow that works the best with your lifestyle.
That will give you more Zen. And guess what – Zen is an ability too!
Friday night is coming! Right after 6 pm, you rush out of the office and run to Marco’s – an Italian restaurant – for a girl’s night out.
You are gonna CHIIIILLLLL tonight.
In retrospect, your social life has been quiet in the past couple of months. It is because having 30 pounds to lose has taken out a lot of you emotionally, and being alone could seemingly help you remain focused and determined.
Yes, you were playing that notorious “willpower game.”
And you didn’t want your friends to find out, thinking they wouldn’t understand you. And ordering salads when everyone enjoys great food makes it way too obvious. It’s awkward and demoralizing.
There was the fear of losing the grip too. You thought if you wanted to lose weight, you had to stop enjoying food and friends.
But if being thin means to be sad and lonely, what gives?
There’s gotta be the 3rd way – you think, and you are darn right.
So today, before joining this gathering, you’ve made one decision:
“I will eat like a normal person today, and I will not feel guilty for that.”
It means you will neither deprive yourself nor splurge, and you will be eating quality and delicious food, feeling satisfied and Zen.
If you want to achieve that, there are a few things you need to make sure:
First, you’ll only eat real foods – it means no cookie, soda, chips, or fries as these are man made fillers.
How do you avoid artificial fillers? An easy way is to go by food that, after being cooked, still looks very close to what it looks like originally.
By doing this, you rule out as much processed garbage and hidden fat as possible, making sure you are getting the most of the nutrition and satisfaction at each bite.
Second, you decided that you’ll eat mindfully and just stop when you are satisfied.
Third, you’ll always have a glass of water on the side. Water, while hydrating the pasta, makes it expand in size in your stomach, helping you feel more satisfied.
Fourth, you won’t arrive at the restaurant with a hungry stomach, and you’ve nailed it, simply by eating an apple beforehand.
Italian food doesn’t come with a ferocious amount of fat in its dressing, so that is good.
But what about desserts? Girls will want that. “I’m not gonna order it for myself, but we can order 1-2 for sharing” – problem easily solved.
All sounds great, now you are at the desk with your girlfriends, and it’s the time to order food.
Scouring through the menu and reading the description under each Italian course name, you found an interesting one. It’s pasta pascatore, seafood pasta with fresh mussels, a thin layer of fresh tomato sauce, and a sprinkling of gremolata, which is just a mixture of fresh garlic, parsley, and lemon peel, all minced together.
To make sure, you called the waitress and politely asked: “could you please let me know how it is cooked?” She was glad to help.
So far, no cream, no deep-fried foods, some high-quality protein, and a seemingly delightful combo of fresh foods.
You ordered a salad as the side, and added a glass of rosé to the meal – it’s not strong, but it tastes good, and it helps to relax the air.
“Wow, you are great at it!” A friend complimented how she loved your food choices.
It makes you feel like a whole new person because before, you’d always make dull, minimalist choices then eat apologetically; now you just ordered a classy, delicious, and beautiful meal combo in a snap of a finger.
That gives your friends a whole different feel of you.
As the conversation goes on, everyone focuses on each other’s stories. Out of the 5 of you, one just got engaged, one graduated and got her Ph.D. in Archaeology, one is having a crush on someone who doesn’t seem to care about her, and the other has just come back from an adventurous vacation in Peru.
You too enthusiastically shared your new idea – buying a rental home as your very first investment.
That idea made you the center of attention for a while, yet nobody was aware that you’ve only finished half a glass of rosé and two bites of tiramisu.
In fact, you weren’t holding yourself back from the Dolce and wine. You tasted them and were instantly charmed. However, you are cognizant that more bites and sips aren’t going to satisfy you more, so you stopped, and completely got taken away by the conversation.
Whoever you are, I admire you for one thing:
That is having followed through this entire 18000-word mega guide. It means you are the action takers, and it means you won’t fail.
Now let me tell you a silly story:
When I was losing those 50 pounds, my motivation pill was the Qipao – my dress of honor.
For someone in a foreign country, not being able to wear the attire of her home culture creates a feeling of detachment from her cultural root and identity, especially if she loves her culture and misses her home so much.
It became a source of anxiety for me.
And that anxiety reached a tipping point one day when my then boyfriend cracked this joke at me:
“You might as well frame the dress and hang it on the wall since most likely you won’t be in it again.”
We’ve been teasing each other with the darkest humor since Day 1 of dating, but facing this one, I had a volcanic explosion inside.
Today, I wonder what Camille Virginia, the relationship coach who I later knew, would advise me to deal with this situation. Camille did a great job writing her epic guide “Dating App Detox: The Ultimate Guide to Getting A Date without Going Online”, and I know she has some very helpful points to make on a topic regarding dealing with the confidence issue in a relationship.
But back at that time, looking at my baggy, bulging belly, I didn’t know what to say.
So on the day when I finally got back to my ideal weight, the very first thing I did was to dig out this qipao which has sit at the bottom of my drawer since a year ago.
I put it on, and took this photo:
Four years later, the same qipao got me WOWs at an NYC rooftop party.
At a rooftop party (NYC, 2012)
Just like my accent, qipao is the badge that documents a part of my history and tells me how much I’ve overcome to live the life that I’ve painted in my “after” picture.
What does the “after” picture look like for you?
Could it be feeling polished, naked?
Or no longer being the biggest girl in your team?
Or becoming the perfect mom in the eyes of your children?
Or accomplishing the best of life and no more missing it out?
I know for some of you, it’s even about getting your first “wow” in a long while, which you’ve been craving for months and years….
It can also be about showing the world who you really are, making your outside match your inside.
Whatever your version is, hold onto it, and be ready to complete the transformation within several months.
Yes, it’s several months of ac
cumulated, unstoppable natural success. No yo-yo, no wo-wo, no deprivation, and no “falling off the wagon”.
“But I’ve been making circles for months and years, how can I be sure this time it will work?” – you wonder.
Remember I was making circles too for almost a year before cracking the code of it? The truth is: I felt lost as hell.
And here’s one thing about the internet: it tells you what it “thinks” more than what is true, making us even more lost in zillions of myths thrown out by zillions of “gurus.”
But this time it’s different – because you are backed by almost 1.6 billion real people out there.
So no myths anymore, just the truth, which is already quietly laid out in front of you in the form of this Guide – up close, in deep.
And you can’t miss it this time. In fact, just by taking a few actions, you’ll reincarnate into the life which you could only imagine now.
Thanks for reading.
~ The End ~