By: Nikki Nies
I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but please forgive me. I recently got back from a trip to Thailand, which was not only awe-inspiring, humbling, but also eye-opening.
Over the last few months, I’ve been under a lot of stress, especially as I try to prepare for my next phase of my life. I know first hand how easy it is to eat not because one’s hungry, but due to stress. Even as a nutrition student, I had a noticeable amount of weight for my size.
Since I just graduated from an undergraduate program, I wanted to enjoy the trip to the fullest, which at first meant not depriving myself from the traditional, authentic Thai food. In the first few days in Thailand, I noticed I had lost some weight (my wrist is the first place I lose weight and my watch was loose). I was surprised because I was taking advantage of the local food and was more concerned with trying new foods than being health conscious.
Since returning from Thailand, I’m back to one of my healthiest weights, being able to quickly shed the pounds. It got me thinking. I was only there for 2 weeks, yet I able to enjoy the Thai food to the fullest without feeling guilty.
Some things I learned on my trip:
- Their portions are about 1/4 of what I’m used to at home. At first, I was shocked by the portions as it’s easy to become accustomed to oversized portions, however, I never ate a meal still hungry. Yes, the portions were a lot smaller, but I always walked away from meals stuffed. For example, what an expected American portion would be served, would be intended to serve 4 people in Thailand, at least. Above, I’ve posted a picture of me at my first meal, such a great meal!
- I just went through all my pictures and I didn’t actually take any pictures of the small plates, but check out this picture. This dish is a typical portion for many Thai restaurants.
- The amount of walking and physical activity that was did was 2 fold compared to what I do in the USA. As a student, I can’t imagine how many hours I sit behind a desk and a computer. The sedentary activities that are required to excel in college drastically limit the amount of activity one has time for throughout the day. We were usually out all day, walking around temples, kayaking and/or never “lying around.” Perhaps, that balanced out what I ate.
- I didn’t do any snacking there. A lot of the people on my trip would buy chips at the 7/11, but I don’t gravitate towards salty foods and didn’t jump in. Before the trip, I would eat every couple, just because I could. However, on the trip we were designated certain times to eat and since I didn’t carry chips with me, I was only eating the small portioned out dishes. I guess snacking really does add up!
- Most of the food was extremely fresh. We did a homestay and when you ordered, it would take about 40 minutes for the dishes to come out. In America, that would be considered terrible service, but they literally made all dishes from scratch. If you ordered sea bass, they went to their fish hatchery and grabbed a fresh sea bass from the water. You can’t get any fresher than that!
- Besides the visible use of condensed milk for banana pancakes, called roti, I didn’t see much dairy products used. I don’t know if there’s a correlation between staying trim and the lack of dairy products, but I found it interesting. They definitely have their share of ice cream places, but locals don’t go there often.
As stated, I learned a lot on my trip and it confirmed the belief, “less is more.” I came back with a better appreciation for Thai cuisine, content that I got an array of tastes and flavors. I’m hoping what I learned from this trip I can tie into everyday practices back in the States. I always considered myself to be a mindful eater, but I feel more aware of when I’m hungry and just bored. So, perhaps, the Thai’s got it right, as their eating customs mimic a happy lifestyle while enjoying great flavors.