Eat, Drink, and be Healthy!

Finally time for another blog! I haven’t written anything in around 5 months. I wrote my last blog shortly before the birth of my first child. Having a baby has brought on many new challenges in my life. For example, breastfeeding has been much more challenging and time consuming than I had anticipated. This new chapter, of being a working mom, has redefined what I thought busy meant.  While this blog isn’t about babies, I must say that I have a whole new appreciation for moms!

Eat, Drink and be Healthy (Harvard Medical School)
Eat, Drink, and be Healthy

This blog is about a nutrition book called “Eat, Drink, and be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating.” I rarely recommend nutrition books because I feel the author often has an ulterior motive. The research and facts can be distorted to gear the reader towards what the author wants them to believe (or to purchase!). For example, poorly done research can be presented as promising evidence to promote a new fad. However, I find this book to be a very refreshing take on healthy diet. It isn’t trying to sell you on any type of diet trend. The advice is practical and based on current research. It dives into detailed information on a range of topics including macro / micro nutrients, glycemic load / glycemic index, grass fed vs. grain fed beef and bottled vs. tap water. I will hopefully write about some of these in future blog posts. It also does a great job in explaining why we hear so much conflicting research in the field of nutrition. While I may not agree 100% with everything in this book, I would still recommend it for those interested in detailed nutrition information. I would also recommend visiting the Harvard School of Public Health’s website (https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/).

Healthy Eating Plate (Harvard Medical School)
Nutrition Education

Becoming more informed about nutrition information can help with avoiding fad diets and other dietary pitfalls. I try to get that message across in all of my nutrition consultations in Shanghai.  The most important thing to remember is that a diet must work for you. There are genetic, environmental, and psychological or social factors that affect us all differently. Choose a diet that has plenty of food choices (diets should not have huge restrictions), is sustainable, healthy for your body, and doesn’t include many expensive foods and supplements. One resounding theme for a healthy diet is to balance healthy proteins with fruits, vegetables (in abundance!), whole grains and healthy fats while reducing sugar and processed foods. I’ve posted a few photos of what I enjoy eating for lunch here in Shanghai (lotus root, amaranth, soy beans etc.), Hopefully,  they can show it’s possible to eat well in Shanghai or elsewhere!

Until the next time! – Jess W.

Lotus root
Amaranth, daikon radish and soybean
Tofu & veggie salad
Bean salad

Rules of the Road for Eating Well in Shanghai


3-IMG_1482As mentioned by Margaret in her previous post, I am new to Shanghai. My perspective is just that, someone new to an area trying to understand the lay of the land and how to function in a new environment. This includes how to eat healthily. Unfortunately, there is more to healthy eating than just consuming fruits and vegetables. If only it were that easy. There are a few simple rules I live by.

  1. Make healthy eating a priority.
    • Make a plan for eating well for the week. Schedule time for shopping and preparing meals at home.
  2. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  3. Minimize processed foods (pre-made, pre-packaged etc.).
  4. Make your own meals and limit use of take-out.

They seem simple enough, but sometimes the execution is far more difficult than the plan. There are additional challenges to healthy and safe eating when living in Shanghai.  I have been asked by many people who are new to the city, “How do I avoid all the sugar and oil?” People often say it is difficult to get back on track with the healthy eating habits they had in their home country. I certainly feel their pain. Perhaps something can be learned from my trial and error as a newbie.  In my time here, I have created a few extra rules for eating well in Shanghai.

  1. Don’t go Sherpa crazy.
    • A busy expat lifestyle combined with lack of local knowledge makes a nightly call to Sherpa a very attractive option. When you allow others to prepare your food, you lose control of quality of ingredients, portion sizes, oil quantities etc.
  2. Map out where and when to get groceries.
    • It’s likely that, unlike at home, you will not meet all your grocery needs in 1 shop. Do your research, identify the best places for your healthy and safe food requirements and make time to go shopping.  There are also some great online resources for food shopping in Shanghai.  Do what is right for you, what is right for your schedule.
  3. Use local fruits and vegetables.
    • Make use of the wide array of produce including lotus roots, bitter melons, and oyster mushrooms etc. that are freely available in your local store.

The number one reason I am given for not eating healthily is a lack of time. But who has tons of time? So much time they cannot fathom what to do?  No one in Shanghai yet! However, healthy eating should be a priority because it is so important. Achieving and doing everything else in life is that much easier when you feel energized and healthy. Understandably, starting a new routine can be extremely difficult. I had an entire lunch of Pocky Sticks one day (OK, maybe two days!).  I had no routine at the time. I have since made it my mission to make simple, inexpensive and quick meals that include local vegetables and fruits. In my future posts I will share my cooking and Shanghai food related adventures.

In the meantime – Eat Well Shanghai! –

Jessica W.