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Limited options paleo diet in China advice wanted

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 24, 2013 at 5:05 AM

Hello, in the past few weeks I have moved to China. While this has been a long time dream I am really disappointed by food options here. Aside from the poor quality of food, there is also a lack of options. So I was hoping I could get some thoughts on my diet here.

I'm cooking at home mainly as I have an inflammation/autoimmune/dysbiosis issue which I was on top of until coming here and have had a big flare up since.

Meat wise I am limited to pork, beef and chicken. I can get prawns too. And there are lots of fresh fish- however fish is a little daunting right now as I've no idea what the fish are, and also the state of rivers here puts me off a little, althogh the ish I've eaten out or at others' homes has been delicious.

Veg wise there is limited quality and choice too which I am most shocked by but I am mainly concerned about meat.

If I am choosing from pork, beef, chicken for 3 meals a day every day over a long period of time, given I'm planning on being here another year at least, are there potential problems I should be wary of?

My main healthy fat option, aside from the meat fat, is olive oil.

Would a better option be having veg for one meal and meat at the 2 other meals?

At home before I left I was the healthiest I've been in a long time, building strength and also only needing to eat twice a day on some days. So its disappointing to have a flare up again.

In 4 months I am moving to Beijing where I can start buying imported food and generally have more options, but for the next 4 months this is my diet.

5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 25, 2013
at 02:18 PM

And if it is high in fat it's good fat usually. Whitefish of any kind is leaner then any pink fleshed fish (after cooked). "Where can I buy the freshest vegetables?" = na3 li3 ke3 yi3 mai3 dao4 xin1 xian1 de shu1 cai4 ? "Where can I buy fresh eggs"? There are 2 types of eggs : yang2 ji1 dan4 (regular ones) and tu3 ji1 dan4 (from farms). = na3 li3 ke3 yi3 mai3 dao4 tu3 ji1 dan4? Where can I get pork bones?" na3 li3 you3 mai4 zhu1 gu3 tou? "Can you give me pork bones for soup? Ke3 yi3 gei3 wo3 shao1 tang1 de zhu1 gu3 tou ma ? Hopefully some of that is helpful!

5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 25, 2013
at 02:15 PM

Chicken bones can work in a pinch for sure! If you can get your hands on chicken feet add loads of those too -- that will add a ton of gelatin to your broths. Gelatin = good. Some questions you may be thinking of asking: "Where can I buy the best meats?" -- I recommend you buy the most expensive meats if you can, good chance they'll be the best meats. Otherwise, sellers would always say that’s the best meat. In terms of asking if a fish is oily, Chinese don’t ask this question to vendors. Usually, fish that is from rivers/lakes is not high in fat anyway (con't below) con't...

7eecdd43c11e2af1a9e4ca0f63d44749

(119)

on March 25, 2013
at 03:35 AM

Thanks a lot for the replies. Yep I was planning on asking someone to help me out buying some fish and explain what the types are. How do you ask about oily fish in a language you're only just learning? haha Where I buy meat I've not seen cuts with bones except for chicken. Do chicken bones work as well for broth and the health benefits? I can get enough greens I think and concentrate on these as veggies, and tubers as you mention, plus cauliflower. i'm in Hunan currently, Lianyuan to be more precise.

7eecdd43c11e2af1a9e4ca0f63d44749

(119)

on March 24, 2013
at 11:47 AM

I should add i'm not looking for advice about Paleo in China. I want feedback on this diet and what potential health issues there may be with such limitations

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5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 25, 2013
at 12:20 AM

Ahh living in China for a year - you're so lucky! That is something I would love to experience one day. We try to go once a year for at least a month and we love it there. What part of China are you in?

To your concerns: What about lots of variations of soups?

http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/category/soups/summer-soups/

You can make bone broth from the pork/beef bones to help heal your gut when you need a break. Are you able to get eggs? Omelets with veggies would be a good breakfast option. If you're looking to eat more carbs you should also be able to get taro or some form of tuber from a local market.

Have you explored your area much or asked the locals where they get their food? When I was in China there was food everywhere and we frequently traveled in 'smaller' towns outside of Shanghai and Beijing. Always opt for the live fish if you can find them over dead ones -- same with prawns. You have to do the best you can given your circumstances.

The Chinese are known for head to toe cooking so you should also be able to get lots of nutrient dense offals and organ meats. They may not be organic but they offer more than a chicken breast or porkchop would nutritionally. Maybe if you ask around some of the locals can share a recipe or two! Also look for nuts and stock up on those if you find them.

Look for Coconut milk too and things like dried squid/oysters and mackerel which you can find in the snack section of the grocery stores. Chinese love their dried foods.

In terms of potential health issues -- I would only be concerned about missing vitamins and minerals from a wide variety of fresh veggies (you mention it seems limited) and getting high quality fat from whole (and clean) food sources. I would definitely inquire with the locals about where to get the best produce and meats. The Chinese have been living long healthy lives for thousands of years so I think you can make out alright if you plan enough. Keep lots of bone broth handy, try to get as much variety as you can and try not to stress -- stress magnifies any digestive issues. "When in Rome" as they say ;). Good luck!

5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 25, 2013
at 02:18 PM

And if it is high in fat it's good fat usually. Whitefish of any kind is leaner then any pink fleshed fish (after cooked). "Where can I buy the freshest vegetables?" = na3 li3 ke3 yi3 mai3 dao4 xin1 xian1 de shu1 cai4 ? "Where can I buy fresh eggs"? There are 2 types of eggs : yang2 ji1 dan4 (regular ones) and tu3 ji1 dan4 (from farms). = na3 li3 ke3 yi3 mai3 dao4 tu3 ji1 dan4? Where can I get pork bones?" na3 li3 you3 mai4 zhu1 gu3 tou? "Can you give me pork bones for soup? Ke3 yi3 gei3 wo3 shao1 tang1 de zhu1 gu3 tou ma ? Hopefully some of that is helpful!

7eecdd43c11e2af1a9e4ca0f63d44749

(119)

on March 25, 2013
at 03:35 AM

Thanks a lot for the replies. Yep I was planning on asking someone to help me out buying some fish and explain what the types are. How do you ask about oily fish in a language you're only just learning? haha Where I buy meat I've not seen cuts with bones except for chicken. Do chicken bones work as well for broth and the health benefits? I can get enough greens I think and concentrate on these as veggies, and tubers as you mention, plus cauliflower. i'm in Hunan currently, Lianyuan to be more precise.

5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 25, 2013
at 02:15 PM

Chicken bones can work in a pinch for sure! If you can get your hands on chicken feet add loads of those too -- that will add a ton of gelatin to your broths. Gelatin = good. Some questions you may be thinking of asking: "Where can I buy the best meats?" -- I recommend you buy the most expensive meats if you can, good chance they'll be the best meats. Otherwise, sellers would always say that’s the best meat. In terms of asking if a fish is oily, Chinese don’t ask this question to vendors. Usually, fish that is from rivers/lakes is not high in fat anyway (con't below) con't...

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