Eating Tips Vietnam – The Normal Is Unhealthy


In todays society you should be striving to be as abnormal as possible. The norm is now the unhealthy, the norm is now over fat, the norm is now contracting a chronic disease, and the norm now does not know how good it feels to be fit and to move freely.


What is normal for the human body? The normal should be optimal function or the body as a system working the way it is designed to work. Yet I think “the norm” is far from that these days.


It is staggering to think that 2 of every 3 people are overweight, 1 in 3 people will get cancer in their lives, 9 out of 10 individuals who develop lung cancer are smokers and 1 in 10 have type 2 diabetes. However, Coronary Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; it killed more than one in every four who died in 2006.


The really sad thing is these statistics are only growing and chronic diseases are affecting younger and younger people. All of the above diseases are classified as largely “PREVENTABLE”. Lets also consider that cancer has gone from 5% of the population to nearly 50% in the past 100 years. This is astonishing, as our biology hasn’t changed much at all in the past 100 years but the environment we live in and how we lead our lives has drastically changed over this time. In 1981 a major review prepared for the U.S. Congress estimated that genetics only determines about 2-3% of the total cancer risk. Lifestyle and nutrition are the big influences! These diseases have gone from being almost unheard of to epidemics! Epidemics that are MAINLY PREVENTABLE!


It is now almost normal to be unhealthy, out of shape and sick. Is this now the new expectation? The accepted state of living? Are these statistics really the numbers you want to live by? If you are fit and healthy are you now the extraordinary?


The Lunar New Year has begun and it’s time to take a look at yourself and the state of our relationships with food, movement and health. Simple actions are all it would take to have tons more energy, feel amazing and look ten years younger. There are a number of clear trends the have influenced this normal unhealthiness. Here are the ones to really look out for:


Avoid sugar at all costs:

In the 1980’s the obesity epidemic really took off. Is it any coincidence that the trend line for sugar increase and obesity percentage escalation is almost exact. Only that the obesity increase trailed the sugar consumption increase by 50 years initially but with all the processed foods and soda is rapidly catching the sugar consumption. Please also notice that the average sugar consumption is now the equivalent to eating more than the average Vietnamese adult male weighs!



Do not avoid good fats:

Good fats are essential to health and fat loss. They provide healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins K, D & E and help to train your body to use fat as a fuel. It is again, no coincidence that obesity rates started to skyrocket after the Low-Fat Guidelines (the food pyramid) was introduced. Guess what the fat was replaced with… sugar!





The Social Weight Gainer:

Here in Saigon, as in many cities and countries, the social activities strongly rotate around food and alcohol. These graphs illustrate the trend that the more social the event (larger number of people) the more calories are likely to be consumed. Up to a whooping 72% more! Other studies found that people are consuming more calories in the weekend than during the weekday. Are your social outings ruining your fat loss and fitness desires?




Move more:

Sitting is killing us… get up and simply move!!  150 calories every day makes a difference. Many people visit a gym twice per week for their workout, but then go on to have a more sedentary week than non-gym users. Average workout = 600 kcals x 2 = 1,200 calories per week. Compared to a brisk ½ hour walk to work every day (150 kcals each way) = 1,500. Simple stand and move… it will make all the difference.




Get more and better sleep:

Sleep is now considered the fourth macronutrient. It is extremely important for both fat loss and health. A number of my clients suffer from sleep apnea, once we diagnose and treat the issue they feel like their quality of life has improved out of this word. Even without a sleep issue the average sleep quantity had reduced by 2 hours over a 40-year period between 1960 and 2000. What might be more important is the deterioration of sleep quality. The use of electrical devises in the evening (TV, Computer, phone, etc), sitting under strong artificial lighting, not sleeping in total darkness and noise pollution all greatly influence restful and restorative sleep.



Individuals often see food as a treat, especially with children. The next time you feel like treating yourself, or your child, with a soda or sugary food think about these statistics and ask yourself… do you want to be normal or extraordinary?