Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Eating Clean - A White Collar Dilemma

Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner.
For those of us that spend more time sitting in front of the PC or out at work, this is a dilemma, especially those that tries to eat clean for health and weight-control reasons.
The abundance of (unhealthy) food being sold by the hawkers and eateries leave much to be desired. Even office pantry is a sinful place to be for those that tries to eat clean.
Butter crab
Coffee, fortified beverages, creamer, condensed milk, junk food/snacks are just some of them. Caffeine messes with your system no matter how much you say you say you need them (thus i save them for race morning, if i need it). Fortified beverages are nothing but cocoa with loads of add-on and sugar. Creamer are hydrogenated vegetable oil, otherwise known as trans-fat. I don't need to elaborate about junk food/snack.
I have my diet sins too. I used to stock up a lot of dried sour plum. I have a bottle of cordial on my desk (gladly, I've not touch it for months!), i bring junk food for those "comfort eating" at work.
These has to stop.
Lunch is always a challenge. That RM4.99 meal is just too good (read : wallet friendly) to let go. But I know that every single fries i take brings me closer to more clogged arteries. Everything is processed. OK, how about we eat that bowl of Nyonya laksa? Goddammit those coconut milk in the curry broth with steam chicken and uncooked cockles are just too darn delicious to ignore (and i just salivated while typing this).
Mee Jawa Best In The World
That plate of  nasi briyani with succulent beef in dark soy sauce and tonnes of vegetable (got to be healthy right?) perhaps takes the monotony away from the lunch hour.
Nasi Briyani Ayam...with vegetable...right...
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. (and i so hate myself for eating them all!)
Technically, they are all "home cooked", or how else they landed on the platter for the serving? But little do most of us know that whatever we see being served are actually bad for our health. Some hawkers claimed to use the "freshest ingredient" and that usually meant rejected vegetables bought at cheap price from the hypermarket (i just saw someone in uniform of a kopitiam around Mutiara Damansara buy "reduced price" vegetables). For economy and maximum profit, most of them recycle the oil they use. Most know that oil can only be used a couple of time for frying. The more we expose oil to heat, the more they oxidizes and break down to carcinogenic materials. Seen the pisang goreng (fried banana fritter) lady's cauldron of oil? Golden yellow or dark brownish?
Wait, it's golden yellow. But is that "refined" oil from "recycled oil"? Meaning, were they re-processed used cooking oil?
OK. Eat healthy. Take sandwhich. Subway. O'Briens. Can't be bad, no?
Did you just ordered your sandwhich with extra meat and "please more mayo and that sweet onion sauce, please"?
You get my drift?
It's never easy to eat out. It gets more difficult when you are trying to eat clean. You ARE what you eat.
So what are you now?
A walking lard? A sedentary chap fan (mixed economy rice)? An active fried chicken? A walking Sambal Belacan?
But i love my teh tarik! Can i ask for it to be "kurang manis?" :(
With gastric re-visiting me and with more dilemma in trying to get back into shape (and not be a "has been" triathlete) i find myself constantly fighting with my stomach and palate. But I've made my mind that i will eat to live. Not live to eat anymore. Of course i do have those occasional "cheats". But they are far and seldom anymore.
Give a thought on what you put into your mouth today. Look at your lifestyle and see if you need that much calories. Check if your bread are made from "refined fortified flour". See if your muesli bar has more chemicals you can't pronounce than natural ingredient. See if your "fruit juice" is made from 80% sugar and 19% preservative and 1% "fruit extract".
Yes, healthy diet is boring. Some stood at the edge of being visually repulsive and tasting worse than fermented durian. Fancy a concoction of spirulina with chia seed?
Eating healthy is not cheap. Organic food cost a bomb. Anything healthy will have the seller marking it up at higher price to justify the "ingredient". Often, we just take it for granted what was served to us is of the best possible quality. Sometimes they are true, often, they aren't. So what do a white collar worker like me earning pittance wages and has a family to feed do? If i were to eat out, an average lunch will be costing me RM6.50. I am trying to stay away from spicy food for health reasons (i am a Malaysian for crying out loud! No sambal belacan???) and that usually meant the choices are limited. Today, i took a stroll to the local hypermarket with a gastric developing in the upper left side below my heart. Bought a pack of simethicone for better night sleep (hate waking up with a sour tummy!) and walked over to get some boring vegetable. Saw two packs of "cheap salad" that will expire in day's time, checked the condition (not soggy) and got them both at RM1.90 and RM1.50 per 125gram each. I walked over to the bread counter and was contemplating that Pita bread only to find it being made using "enriched fortified protein flour". I settled for a hard no-brand (in house) loaf of wholemeal bread that cost RM2.80.
I try not to buy those "branded" bread as they usually have shortening (to make the bread super duper pillow soft). So, the "hard" bread was a compromise i have to make.
And i walked back to the office, sat in the pantry, washed half a pack of the salad (and i was happy they were in good crunchy non soggy condition) and ate them.

But am i really eating healthy? I guess i can't win all the time. Not when the tummy is making your hand shiver as the pain radiates through your body.


  1. macam cerita p ramlee: hidup susah, mati pun susah.

  2. the salads over here in the states are damn nice! occasionally I added few pieces of boiled chicken tetek but I prefer those olives ... oh Nyamm Nyamm Nyammm

    *still dreaming to become muscle man like ahpek stupe*

  3. try working at 'mamak central' ie masjid india... due to high concentration of 'blue collar' workers, it's rice (heaps of it) all around you.. after 4 years of working here, I'm running out of options.. working in PJ (NEstle House) was worse when it came to lunch.. curry, curry everywhere..

  4. Loktor - me flabby now.

    bandit - i know exactly what you meant.