Chinese food has a bad reputation in the UK. The rice-heavy meals and fatty meat dishes are thought to lead straight to obesity and heart disease. But properly prepared, says Chinese food expert Lorraine Clissold, the very opposite is true: the Chinese way of eating is healthy and fulfilling, fights illness and prolongs life. She also insists, in her book Why the Chinese Don’t Count Calories, that a real Chinese diet won’t make you fat, and that the rising levels of obesity observable in China are in fact caused by sugary, overprocessed Western food. Here are some of her Chinese dietary secrets — and the verdict of two Western nutrition experts, Patrick Holford and Ian Marber. The Chinese don’t have a word for “calories”. They view food as nourishment, not potential weight gain. A survey found that Chinese people consumed 30 per cent more calories than Americans, but were not necessarily more active. Clissold says their secret is avoiding the empty calories of sugary, nutrient-free foods. Holford says: “The latest research into weight loss shows that calorie-controlled, low-fat diets are less effective than low glycemic load diets, which is exactly what a traditional Chinese diet is.
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