Wintertime is a cozy time, a time for staying indoors and curling up with a loved one. It's a great time of year. However it's also the season where most people tend to gain weight. If you've recently looked in the mirror noticed a few extra pounds you'd like to shed; you're not alone. In fact, Sixty-eight percent of all Americans are overweight, and the percentage of adults who are obese has been rising for a decade.

Americans want to bring their bodies back into balance and so much so that they're spending money like mad to get thin. On average Americans spend $38 billion a year trying to lose weight, according to Market Data Enterprises, but without much permanent success.

When America's acknowledged leadership in western scientific achievement fails us what is there to do? Look to the people who do have a slender society and in this case that means look to the east.

Asia does not have a weight control problem and the answer is not just in the rice. It's a complete life system that puts balance above all else and is reflected in their diet. What that means in practical terms is that their diet is lower in fat, sugar and salt. This of course begs the question: How do we lower our intake of the yummy fat, sugar and salt and still enjoy what we eat? The answer is simple: By looking at how Asian's do it.

Step 1. Drink hot tea after meals.

Not only does black tea diminish the craving for sweets, studies have indicated that it lowers cholesterol and gets rid of fat deposited along the gastro-intestinal tract, states Dr Perdo Chan in his book. "The Chinese Way to Weight Control" recommends drinking black tea with no sugar or milk immediately after a meal to curb the urge for sweets.

Step 2. Get rid of the salt shaker and replace it with soy sauce.

Soy has sodium so it will add a salt taste to food but at the same time it adds clean low cholesterol protein to your meal.

Step 3. Eat Smart with Fat.

Fat tastes good and it's good for you too. The reason it tastes good is it's necessary for maximal energy and optimal nutrition. The problem with the typical American diet is the quantity and quality of fat.

The Senate Select Subcommittee on diet and nutrition recommends no more than 30 percent fat evenly divided into saturated fat, poly-unsaturated fat and mono-unsaturated fats. Not Coincidentally, Asian cooking reflects this balance. Here's how they do it.

Step 4. Increase you vegetables and keep it tasty.

Meats are secondary behind the vegetables. The rule of thumb is this: Twice as many vegetables as meat. Pretty simple. With four ounces of beef have eight ounces of cooked vegetables with it. Steam them, grill them, layer them with soy sauce or the gravy from whatever meat your cooking with.

Step 5. Little Meat, Some Chicken and lots of Fish.

By slicing the meat in small thin portions and mixing it with lots of vegetables, they actually eat less meat per meal than Americans do. Eating less red meat will cut down on the saturated fats in your diet.

Chicken has less saturated fat than beef and fish has less still. So the rule of thumb for Asians is for every one meal if red meat, have two poultry meals, and three or four fish meals.

Step 6. Dump the dairy.

Asian cooking has little or no dairy in it. Dumping the dairy goes a long way when you're lowering the fat and cholesterol levels. The way they keep it rich and tasty is with soy. Soymilk, tofu butter, as well as other soy products are used in place of butter, cheese and milk. Animal fat is seldom used in Asian cooking, vegetable oil especially peanut oil balances the saturated fat found in meat with unsaturated fat found in the oil.

Step 7. Get smart with carbohydrates.

The real story on rice is this: Rice is the king of low carb, carbs. Rice is lower in carbohydrates and calories than bread or pasta. Because it has more bulk for the carbs it offers, rice will fill you faster with fewer calories and carbohydrates. Generally speaking, rice is plain or seasoned with soy sauce.

Step 8. Massage you Ears.

A low cost and convenient alternative to regular acupuncture treatment is to book one appointment and do the rest yourself. One visit to the local acupuncturist will show you where to find the points on your ear that will reduce food craving. After the treatment, remembering to massage the points on the ear once or twice daily will cut back on your desire for food.


© Melt Magazine 2002