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Thailand is making you fat

Tim Newton

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Thailand is making you fat | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Big Mac or Pad Thai? Which has the most calories?

“…compare a Big Mac to an average Pad Thai and there’s at least double the kilojoules in the Thai noodle dish.”

I came to Thailand as a fit, healthy 70 kilogram Australian. After six years in Thailand I’m now a reasonably fit, healthy 76 kilogram Australian. Why? Well, Thai food, despite its healthy appearance and fresh origins is also full of fats, sugars and salt. For example, compare a Big Mac to an average Pad Thai and there’s at least double the kilojoules (or calories) in the Thai noodle dish. (There’s plenty of variation in Pad Thai servings but we took an average from three websites reporting on the nutritional value of Thai food). One website went as far as reporting that your average Pad Thai had FOUR times as many calories in it.

(A big Mac has 1075 kilojoules per 100 grams of weight and weighs approx. 200 grams)

Whilst Thai food is generally fresh, cooked quickly, full of nutrition (vegetables, carbohydrates and protein), it’s also full of calories. But the problem goes deeper than this. And it partly answers the question as to why Thais, as a population, are growing taller and fatter than in the past – they’re getting a lot more calories than in the past.

Head to your local convenience store and scan the shelves. Anything fresh is difficult to find. Many foods that would have traditionally come without sugar are now laced with additional sugar – yogurt, fruit juice, bread, and we’re hardly past the front counter yet.

Anecdotally, I would suggest that the ingredients for your average Thai meal have evolved over the past 100 years and now there is a lot more salts, sugars, MSG and saturated fats than a century ago (the MSG argument is something for another time). Of course, all these things make most foods taste better, I won’t deny it.

Thai food is still a great source of all the nutrients you need to get through the day but eating large Thai meals with lost of noodles and white rice is not going to help you return to your 20 year old surfer body. White rice has about as much nutrition as cardboard. Cook it in a sea of saturated fat (fried rice) and you’re on the way to a big calorie intake.

Nutritionists recommend avoiding six types of Thai foods including Pad Thai, yellow, green and red curries, Tom Kha soup (Tom Yum is ok), stir fries and Thai tea (the orange sweet milky concoction).

Well, that’s about every Thai meal I love 🙁

chefjohnhowie.com has a list of Thai food dos and don’ts.

Meanwhile Hayden Rhodes, Phuket nutritionist and well-being consultant, says there are three things to take into account when consuming our beloved Thai food.

1) Most food is fried, many times in cheap nasty rancid vegetable oils. Avoid fried Thai food.

2) Thai food over the years has followed the SAD… standard American & Australian Diet (very SAD) which means consuming more sugar per head per year. Sugar makes you fat. Period. Ask for no sugar to be added to Thai dishes (yes- it’s in everything!)

3) A lot of Thai food is full of chemicals ‘fresh from the farm’; detoxification processes will be hampered – body fat will be stored. Ask your fancy hotel or beach club where their food comes from and 99% will likely be ‘Macro’. Find out who uses organic ingredients and eat there. Yes – this will have a direct impact on your energy, mineral content in your body and your fat line… oops I meant waist line.”

Add to the high calorific content of all our favorite Thai foods is the relatively inexpensive and plentiful alcohol and street food stalls every 50 metres along any road and you’re heading for a fright when you step onto the scales. It’s also a lot easier to jump on the motorbike in Thailand to travel short distances we might have happily walked back in our home country.

So next time you see a friend heading into McDonalds for a Big Mac, rather than fat-shaming them, they might actually be trying to lose weight! (We certainly don’t recommend eating Bic Macs or ‘fast food’ too often though)

Health aficionados and doctors would always recommend a balanced food intake with fresh food at the top of the list along with regular exercise, at any age.

Good advice! So it’s back to the swimming pool and gym, and choosing Tom Yum over Pad Thai.

Thailand is making you fat | News by The Thaiger

(per 100 grams of weight)

 

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Francesco Greco

    Saturday, February 1, 2020 at 8:49 am

    A bed recollection of non-scientific claims, dressed up with preconcepts and blatantly wrong information. Bad journalism!

  2. Avatar

    Healthy food tastes so good

    Monday, February 3, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    This is absolutely the most ridiculous assessment of thai food and it’s health implications. Not all farang are “pad thai or hamburger only types.” Not all farang are afraid to eat real local foods like gang no mai, gang kee lek , pu pla ra, nam prik moo, just to name a few. I definitely have lost weight from eating much healthier than in Usa and my diet was a very healty one to begin with. Maybe try leaving Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chaing Mai for a moment before labeling thai food unhealthy. They make unhealthy food for tourist because many tourist want to eat unhealthy. Also, Makro sells organic and my friends farm grows without chemicals and doesn’t brag about it being organic.If you are in some tourist area and you ask if it’s organic they are going to say whatever you want to hear. I think you have your ears mixed up on this one.

  3. Avatar

    Mitch Wilenchik

    Sunday, July 26, 2020 at 10:20 am

    you just clearly showed that the reason Thais are getting fatter is not their food but the influence of western fast foods and packaged foods. I first came to Thailand in 1970 and you couldn’t find a ‘fat’ thai person. Only when KFC and McD showed up did you start to slowly see the changes. Thai food does have alot of salt(fish sauce) and sugars but for the most part is quite fresh and healthy. And the Thai diet almost totally excludes lactose, also something introduced with fast food and bread.

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 450 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now the General Manager and writer for The Thaiger. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue.

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