For those who live to eat

Why The Lifespan Of A Chinese Is One Of The Longest

If you have travelled a lot in Asia, around the world and have gravitated in different communities, like me, you have probably noticed that the Chinese age more beautifully. What is their secret?

Is it the consistent practice of Tai Chi, dancing in the parks?

Is it their life style with more meditation?

All these options are correct. But one significant reason is missing in that list. Yes you have guessed well…….their diet!

The U China Travel team is happy to share with you, right now, the features and benefits of this diet and make you keen on exploring much deeper when you travel with us.

Western eating habits have been picking away at long-held Chinese principles of balance and harmony in the kitchen, and it’s time we all—Chinese and otherwise—took a look at what the traditional Chinese diet has to offer.

Indeed, that Chinese “fast food” and China’s shift into unhealthy eating habits on the availability of western foods, particularly in cities, breaks almost every rule of the traditional Chinese diet, which is actually one of the healthiest in the world.

 

Chinese Medicine Philosophy

Chinese culture is based on the philosophy of “yin” and “yang”, as well as the “Five Elements.” From medicine and martial arts to dance and cooking, Chinese culture is built on a foundation of balance, harmony, contrast, and adapting to change.

Part of that balance figures into food. Each organ is tied to an element and a taste. For example, bitter is tied to the heart and fire. (Also, sweet: spleen/earth, sour: liver/wood, spicy: lungs/metal, salty: kidneys/water.) In building a healthy meal, all five of these tastes should be incorporated. That is said to keep the body in balance, which in turn protects it from disease.

 

How to Keep to the Traditional Chinese Diet

Green Tea U China Travel
Green tea

1. Drink green tea

Green tea helps to hold off hunger, aid digestion, and fight free radicals, which cause heart disease and cancer. In China, it’s customary to leave the same leaves in a pot and simply add water when a person wants a second or third cup. That way, they take in less theine than they would from several tea bags used one after another, and avoid chemicals involved in tea bag production.

2. Give up diary

Dairy is designed for infants, and ours is the only species that continues to drink milk into adulthood. Instead of relying on dairy for calcium, get it from green leafy vegetables, sesame seeds, and fermented soy curds made with calcium.


3. Choose white rice, not brown

Brown rice is white rice with a hull around it, but the nutrients in that hull have poor bioavailability. That means our bodies use up energy breaking them down. That said, the Chinese diet values moderation and balance. Instead of having white rice at all times, try to rotate between all the available grains.

 

4. Don’t count calories

Chinese medicine sees food as nourishment, not potential body fat. Instead of counting calories, the Chinese diet simply aims to include healthy foods. For example, an avocado may have more than 200 more calories than a diet soda. But no one is about to argue that the diet soda is better for you than the avocado! Stop thinking about math, and start thinking about nutrition.

 

5. Eat red meat in moderation

According to Chinese medicine, it’s a mistake to have too much red meat, and not everyone can do without it. Instead of giving up red meat altogether, the Chinese diet advises two ounces twice a week. But some Chinese still say that people should be vegetarian because only the vegetables can convey the energy from the sun into the body.

 

6. Bring balance to your dishes

According to Chinese medicine, meals should always balance ingredients that are yin (wet and moist) and yang (dry and crisp). Yin foods cool the body, and yang foods heat it up. Another way to think of it is this: yin foods are usually carbohydrates, and yang foods are usually proteins. By cooking a dish that includes both of these (e.g., grain noodles with mung beans), the combination of proteins and carbohydrates can help to stabilize blood sugar and insulin—keys to metabolic health.

 

7. Eat slowly, and stop when you feel full

This might be the hardest part of the Chinese diet, but it’s certainly one of the most important. A major problem with western diets today is the way we have tied eating to guilt. Instead of eating three good meals a day, we might skip breakfast and then give in to a pastry by 10am. We might eat vegetables all week, then binge on potato chips all weekend. The way many of us see food is in extremes, bouncing from hunger to excess every few hours.

The solution, according to the Chinese diet, is to never skip meals. To eat three complete, healthy meals every day, and to eat until you feel that you are almost full. Of course, there’s a caveat: you have to eat slowly. It takes the brain some time to signal that you feel full, so it’s very easy to overeat without realizing it if you’re in a rush. Sit down, take your time, and appreciate your meals until you know it’s time to stop.

 

8. Serve soup at every meal

Western foods are quite dry, and we make up for it by drinking plenty of water during and between meals. The Chinese diet takes a different approach. Their meals almost always include a soup-based dish, which helps to fill the stomach and control the appetite. If you can get a fermented soup (such as miso), it is even better! Fermented soups are probiotics, which help to release nutrients from the foods you take in and last but not least, it champions your gut that will thank you! 

 

Beef noodle soup
Beef noodle soup
Seafood soup with papaya

 

9. Rethink your “mains” and “sides”

In the US, meat is a main dish and vegetables are side dishes. But in China, vegetables are viewed as main courses. When you’re preparing a plate for dinner, try to think about what you’re paying the most attention to. Instead of a plate that is two-thirds meat and one-third vegetables, aim for a plate that is two-thirds vegetables and one-third meat. At the very least, half your meal should consist of vegetables.

Flat rice noodles with beef
Beef noodles
Stir fried flat noodles

 

10. Learn about Chinese medicine

There’s no substitute for a doctor when you’re actually ill, but under most circumstances we can all benefit from learning how natural vegetables, herbs, and spices can keep us healthy. For example, chilies can promote digestion and ginger eases nausea. Whether you believe in these cures or not, at the end of the day it’s just one more reason to make sure you take in plenty of healthy, natural foods.

The key to the Chinese diet is natural ingredients and balance.

Every time you buy and make something, focus on the unrefined, all-natural version. When you make something starchy, consider adding legumes. The next time you want a snack, boil a cup of green tea. Pile your plate with vegetables, and drink a cup of soup on the side. Strive for balance, whatever that means for you.

Now the Traditional Chinese diet is no longer a secret for you!

By traveling with U China Travel, you will have plenty of opportunities to witness and taste that healthy diet. And maybe when you come back home, you will keep in mind that natural ingredients, balance make you healthier and you might have a strong willingness to continue it….

After all, traveling is experiencing and some travels can be more inspiring than other ones….

And this is exactly what U China Travel strives to trigger in each of its guest by giving multiple occasions to explore, share, experience and bring back home long life memories….

Traveling with Gluten Intolerance

U China Travel team, always very careful with the special requests of its guests, is happy to share good tips with you. 

It might be tricky and a bit challenging to travel overseas when you have food intolerances or allergies.

Thanks to an increasing awareness of allergies, China is more and more an easier place to explore, even for those have special food requests and need extra care by choosing their food.

If you are worried about how to handle food allergies when travelling in China, here are my useful tips to make your travel in China totally worry-free and more enjoyable. 

Are you sensitive to gluten or even allergic to it? 

 Today, some 3.1 million people across the United States follow a gluten free diet and the number of Americans going gluten-free has tripled since 2009. Europeans are also concerned and affected by this allergy.

 Gluten is a protein that is found in grains such as wheat, oat, rye, barley and spelt. As this protein is not present in rice or corn, China is a perfect place to travel!

 Nevertheless, wheat is often added to rice dishes and is commonly added to soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce and other flavourings.

Either you have booked a Private Tour with U China Travel or one of the newly designed Small group Tours – you are more than welcome to share your food restrictions with your dedicated tour operators and guides. All aware and informed in advance about your special request, we will be happy to arrange the special preparation of dishes you need or help you find alternatives.

 

 We can also prepare for you a written request in Chinese to show before ordering any dish:

 ‘I must follow a strict gluten-free diet’

我只能吃无麸的食物

 ‘If I eat food containing wheat, rye, oats or barley, I will get very sick’

如果我吃了小麦,黑麦,燕麦,大麦,我会生病的

‘I cannot eat food containing soy sauce, flour, starch, batter, bread or MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)’

我不能吃油,面粉,淀粉,含面粉的混合物,面包及味精

 ‘I can eat rice, corn, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, eggs, meat and fish’

我可以吃米,玉米,土豆,蔬菜,水果,蛋,肉

 

In the big cities you will travel to, a wide range of restaurants and hotels propose menus with gluten-free options.

Here is a short selection of restaurants U China Travel can propose to you. These restaurants have clearly labelled gluten-free dishes and will ensure an anxiety-free trip. 

In Beijing:

Tribe Organic: Tribe Organic has made ‘Holistic Health’ its mission without losing great taste or originality. A large variety of healthy grain bowls, deserts and flatbread is proposed.

U China Travel Gluten Free
Tribe Organic

 

Moka Bros: with a variety of superfood bowls, Moka Bros is where the hip and cool crowd in Beijing hang out. 

Moka Bros
Moka Bros

 

Bistrot B in Rosewood Hotel: Bistrot B is one of Rosewood Beijing’s most innovative dining venues, serving French dishes in a contemporary bistro style. The showcase of this interactive restaurant is an expansive open-island kitchen, featuring wood-fired oven, grill and large wok. The atmosphere of Bistrot B is warm and relaxed, extending to its serene outdoor terrace.

Bistrot B in Rosewood Hotel
Bistrot B in Rosewood Hotel

 

In Shanghai:

Hunter Gatherer: wholesome pre-designed or made-to-order grain and salad bowls that are blissfully filling yet healthy and organic. Similar to Moka Bros and Tribe, it’s an easy and casual dining spot.

Hunter Gatherer

 

El Willyis a contemporary Spanish restaurant specialized in modern tapas and Barcelona-style rice. The structure of the menu follows the Chinese Yin Yang structure of a meal.

El Willy

 

Green and Safe: in the former French Concession district, it offers an enticing combination of both fresh organic produce and casual eatery options.

Green and Safe
Green and Safe

 

The Commune Social: The food concept is a fresh and modern take on Spanish tapas, where the small dishes served are refined interpretations of the tapas genre with an international twist.

The Commune Social

 

In Hong K0ng:

Grassroots: my favourite one!….they welcome those in search of wellness, good food and excellent service in equal measure. Sourcing unprocessed, sustainable and organic ingredients of quality at every turn, they cater for dietary restrictions and wholeheartedly believe that healthy eating doesn’t have to mean a compromise in flavour.

Grassroots

 

La Crêperie Sheung Wan: Legit French crêpes that are gluten free? Yes ! While the sweet crêpes here are made with wheat flour, the savoury crêpes -les galettes- are made with gluten free buckwheat flour. Nutty, crispy and with more filling fibre than a wheat crêpe, these make a healthier lunch option too.

La Crêperie Sheung Wan

 

Posto Pubblico: All pasta dishes have a gluten free option and all of their pasta sauces are naturally gluten free and made from scratch

Posto Pubblico
Posto Pubblico

 

The two chains Element Fresh and Wagas (present in many cities in China) also propose a vast choice of gluten-free and healthy meals in the form of yummy salads. For the salad dressing, just don’t forget to ask for olive and balsamic vinegar just to guarantee no hidden gluten.

Element Fresh

For those craving more Chinese flavours, it is always possible to make a stir-fry or fried rice without any soy sauce or to stick to veggies, vermicelli, meat and fish.

Otherwise, Yunnan-style Chinese food is also often cooked without gluten ingredients.

If you are sensitive to gluten or even are allergic to it, please let us know while confirming your travel with us. We will be able to inform your guide in advance regarding this special request to make your trip in China totally anxiety-free! 

And for further information and any inquiries, feel free to contact us at: info@uchinatravel.com

 

* all images are credited to the respective restaurants, and authors on TripAdvisor and Pintrest

Haidilao Hot Pot

Any visit to China isn’t complete without enjoying some hotpot. It’s a shabu-shabu type of meal that includes a yummy broth and a variety of vegetables and meats ready for cooking and dipping. The flavour and ingredients in the broth vary from region to region.
Haidilao, a popular hot pot restaurant chain has numerous locations throughout Beijing. They service their hot pot in the spiciest “Sichuan style”, native to western China.
Haidilao’s service is extensive and they are a well-known restaurant in the city for it. Going beyond polite and good service, there’s a “noodle show” where some waiters hand pull noodles (the traditional way to make noodles) right at your table. If there’s a long wait or line-up, there’s a nail station to get a manicure while you wait for dinner.

Colibri Cafe

Colibri Cafe, located in Beijing’s trendy Sanlitun district in the Village North is a popular spot with locals and expats. It’s been a popular to-go lunch spot for a few years now. They serve a variety of cafe and bistro foods. Colibri has an order at the counter to table service menu, from typical lunch cafe delights like soup, sandwiches, wraps, paninis and as well as a few lunch sets. The coffee is good and inexpensive. For those craving something sweet, the cafe is well-known for their cupcakes. They recently added macarons to the desert menu. Colibri Cafe is a great break from the Beijing local flair for any traveler who’s craving some comfort food. The setting is a comfortable, sunny location and a great place to people-watch.

Mr. Shi's Dumpings

Mr. Shi’s Dumpings

It is a restaurant that mainly for dumplings and other local Beijing Cuisines. It is located in Bao Chao Hutong with simple decoration and it is a good place to experience the authentic tastes. Highly recommended at Trip Advisor.

Beijing Flo

Brasserie FLO

Brasserie FLO, Beijing’s only authentic French brasserie and winner of eleven consecutive years for “Best French Restaurant in Beijing” from 2003-2014 by “the beijinger Magazine” opened its doors in Beijing in 1999.

Superbly located on Xiao Yun Lu – just a stone’s throw from the French embassy and near the Lido area – Brasserie FLO is thrilled to be continuing its traditions. A stand-alone building designed entirely by FLO visionaries, the stone exterior, cut glass windows and lush garden grounds immediately compose a singular and stunning Beijing venue.

Here is the link: http://www.flo.cn/brasserie/restaurants/beijing/

Dali La Dolce Vita Restaurant

Dali La Dolce Vita

It is run by a couple from Australia and Shandong Province, China. Fantastic western cuisine together with a beautiful garden and dining room. Real pizza and a great selection of authentic western dishes.

Makye Ame Restaurant

Makye Ame Restaurant & Bar

Over 300 years old, legend has it that the Sixth Dalai Lama met a beautiful girl here, but he never saw her again. The name Makye Ame comes from a poem by the Sixth Dalai Lama. Makye Ame means “holy mother” in Tibetan. Locals call the restaurant “the yellow house” (because its outer color is yellow).

Lijiang Baisha Time Restaurant

Baisha Time Restaurant

It is inside of Baisha Ancient town and decorated traditional Naxi Minority Style. It uses local ingredients and offers authentic Lijiang Style food.

Papillon Rouge Lijiang

Papillon Rouge

 Being one of the first foreigners to settle down in Lijiang since 2001. French chef, Alexander Maier had been a main proponent in bridging the culinary gap in Lijiang. For foreigners who had had enough of local food and craving for a taste of European, Alex has been a God-sent.