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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….

Fireworks Display

Festivals in China

China is home to about 1.3 billion people, with a diverse number of cultures and celebrations that take place in every part of the country. Witnessing the celebrations of festivals in China is a great way to experience and understand the vibrant culture of the people. When planning for your trip, why not schedule it around these major festivals in China? 

Red Lanterns to usher in Chinese New Year
Red Lanterns to usher in Chinese New Year
Dragon Float

Chinese New Year

 Chinese New Year is one of the most important and widely celebrated festivals in China. It typically takes place in February, with its exact date determined by the Lunar Calendar. 

Specific traditions and customs vary according to region, though there are several similarities. Chinese New Year even is often a day of family reunion, where family members travel back to their homes to gather over a meal. Red packets, or hongbaos, are given out to wish good fortunate and prosperity to those who receive it. You might also catch fireworks, joyful Chinese New Year music Lion/Dragon dances, and offerings to ancestors and deities through Chinese New Year festivals in China.

 

The Chinese New Year celebrations end on the 15th day of the first month. This day is also marks the Lantern Festival, when you might catch beautiful lanterns decorating the streets and stores in China.

 

Tomb Sweeping Day
Tomb Sweeping Day

Tomb Sweeping Day

Compared to Chinese New Year, this festival takes a much more solemn tone. Also known as Qing Ming Jie, families would visit the tombs of their ancestors on this day to ‘sweep’ or tidy them up. Offerings such as food items, flowers and the burning of joysticks also take place.

Qing Ming Jie typically takes place in March or April of the Georgian calendar.

 

Glutinous Rice Dumpling
Glutinous Rice Dumpling
Dragon Boat Race

Dragon Boat Festival

Many stories have been formed on the origins of The Dragon Boat Festival, or Duan Wu Jie. Among the most popular is the story of Qu Yuan.

It is said that the Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the life and death of a stateman, Qu Yuan, during the warring states period. A royal servant to the emperor, Qu Yuan was accused of betrayal and banished. Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning. Villagers tried to save him, but could not find his body. They then made rice wrapped in bamboo leaves to feed the fishes of the river, in hopes that they would not touch Qu Yuan’s body.  

 

Today, delicious glutinous rice dumplings are made and eaten to celebrate the dragon boat festival. You can also catch exciting dragon boat races all around China. Each beautifully decorated dragon boat is commandeered by a group of paddlers, who stroke the boat forward according to the beat of a drum. Dragon boat races are exciting to watch and gives you a glimpse into the vibrant community.

 

Marriage Performance Ceremony
Marriage Performance Ceremony

Chinese Valentines Day

Scheduled on the 7th day of the 7th month of the Lunar Calendar, this day holds greater weight in China compared to 14th February.

This day celebrates the legend of 2 lovers, a weaver maid and a cowherd, whose love was forbidden by the gods. The gods banished the couple to opposite sides of the Silver River (or Milk Way). The magpies of Earth took pity on them, and created a bridge so that the lovers may come together for a night.

 

A day with love in the air, it’s also a time when many couples choose to get married or celebrate their love.

 

Fireworks Display
Fireworks Display

National Day

Celebrated on 1 October, the Chinese National Day celebrations are a sight to behold! This week long festival involves an impressive array of performances. banquets and celebrations al around the country.

 

Important landmarks of China, such as the Tiananmen Square, are dressed up according to the festive occasion, marking the founding of the People’s Republic of China on 21 September 1949.

 

Lighting of lanterns during the Mid Autumn Festival
Lighting of lanterns during the Mid Autumn Festival

Mid Autumn Festival

 

A festival to celebrate good harvest, this festival is usually celebrated in Sep/Oct each year. Mooncakes are a popular delicacy during this period of time, be sure to try some! Lighting of lanterns of all shapes and colours is a yearly tradition during this festival, creating a lovely atmosphere along the city streets.

 

Hiking during the Double Ninth Festival

Double Ninth Festival

 

As its name suggests, this festival is celebrated on the 9th day of the 9th month in the Lunar Calendar. The number 9 is associated with ‘yang’ energy, and with ‘yang’ energy overflowing on this date, it is a dangerous day. To protect against the high ‘yang’ energy, drinking chrysanthemum liquor and wearing of the zhuyu plant has become the tradition. Some Chinese also visit their ancestral graves on this day, or take the opportunity for hiking trips.

 

Christmas Tree at Bird’s Nest
Christmas Tree at Bird’s Nest

Christmas Day

A globally celebrated day on 25 December, this festival is usually celebrated in the major cities of China. Like many other Christmas celebrations around the world, expect to see lighted Christmas trees, exchange of gifts, Christmasy songs and Christmas shopping deals everywhere!

Keen to catch these festivals while you’re in China? We’ll be happy to take you around. Drop us an email for a chat!