As everyone knows living in China has put me thru a lot of changes and adjustments. One of the largest changes that have occurred is the diet. I always mention the things I miss eating from the states, from cheese to good ice cream. However, I seldom mention the things that I now eat that I really never ate before.
Due to the lack of things available that I am use to eating I have had to take to eating like the locals. Although, most of you will think that my diet should be better and healthier. For somethings my diet is better. I drink more water than every before, and I eat more regularly since the Chinese are very strict about three meals a day at the same time everyday. However, somethings I didn’t consider have now caused me to have a health problem that I did not have before.
China’s many different regions have various types of food. Colder parts of China usually eat spicier foods, some places have the food more sweet like Beijing and Shanghai. However, where I am located the food is very salty. Due to the tradition of curing meats and veggies to keep them for an extensive amount of time due to the climate and the lack of refrigerators in the past. Almost, every food in Zhejiang province is very, very salty. Add that to the large amount of rice that is eaten, it can be hell on an African-American person’s body.
After 3 years of eating rice or noodles at every meal, and a nearly 300% higher intake of salt that my body is use to, my genetics, my age and my weight; I have found myself with stage two high blood pressure. The silent killer they call it. This pretty much scared the hell out of me. I never had any kind of problems with my blood pressure or any other serious health issue. I was actually the perfect subject for experimental testing at my university and proudly volunteered to help Ph.D post doctorate scientist to test their theories.
But now I am a high risk, high blood pressure patient. It sucks.. but I am one of those people who when life throws lemons… I catch them and throw them back making sure to pop someone in the head with them.
So begins my Chinese diet change to beat this problem naturally. I want to try to avoid using western medicines as long as I can. In my research to find out how to deal with this issue.. I have found that many Chinese in this area have the same problem. (you think they would have figured out the salt thing.. but hey.. whatever) .. I have also found out that garlic is a large fighter of high blood pressure…(however, it does not help to eat it pickled.. like they do here)
My husband has hopped on board to helping me avoid salt in my diet and lower my rice intake so I do not get a blood sugar problem in addition to my current issue.
In America if you have this problem.. there are foods clearly marked that have low or no salt inside them. However, in China it is not so easy. First I had to learn how to say “no salt” in Chinese… so I could tell every restaurant, street vender, and tea house to leave the salt out of the food. I have realized that this usually gets a crazy look, and the question of “Am I sure.” Just about everything here is loaded with salt… probably explains why they drink so much water… I have also started adding garlic and ginger to almost all foods.
It is a big hassle and a bit irritating but you have to do what you have to do. I have increased my Tai Chi practice and decided to try to add in a little yoga to try to get this weight down a little… The age thing… .I can’t change.. but I figure if I can regulate everything else… it should help.
My husband has purchased me an electronic blood pressure machine so I can check it regularly.. and is always checking all the food to make sure it has no salt. With him leading the way.. I am sure I can beat this.
I want everyone to understand and realize that when you move to China or another culture you have to not only adjust to the people, the cities, the climate. habits and the traditions; you also have to adjust to the genetic differences between yourself and the local people here. Not only do I look different, I am built different on the inside. Because I am much larger they do not even have a blood pressure cup in the hospital that will fit my arm. They are not really sure how to treat me for most things because they have never had to treat a foreigner before. But I have no worries, wish me luck and .. watch your head…. the lemons are now flying.
until next time…
- Sweet drinks may up blood pressure (cnn.com)
- The Facts on Heart Disease, Sodium, and Sugar (everydayhealth.com)
- Sugary Drinks Tied to Blood Pressure Boost (abcnews.go.com)
- You Asked: Low Blood Pressure and Salt Obsession (fitsugar.com)
- Manage Your Blood Pressure With the DASH Diet (everydayhealth.com)
- Are You at Risk for High Blood Pressure (geoff1145.wordpress.com)
- Soft drinks ‘blood pressure risk’ (bbc.co.uk)
- High blood pressure – How to Lower Blood Pressure (asnthanhan.wordpress.com)