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8 Struggles of Dieting in a Filipino Household

Diet? What diet?

| August 1, 2014


Your Pinterest board is filled with the healthiest recipes and motivational posts. You’re armed with flax seeds and almond milk, spinach and kale, strawberry and banana. But as you walk into the kitchen, you see it: the pot of gold, the treasure trove—a brown bag of hot pan de sal. Your nanay had just brought some home. The sweet, soft siren song of each golden brown roll lures you in, wiping away any thoughts of that spinach and fruit smoothie you were just about to make. “Maybe,” you decide as you reach for that small, albeit carbohydrate-loaded, pan de sal, “maybe you’ll just have one.”

8. Nanay keeps trying to get you to eat.

Every. Five. Minutes. Filipino moms always seem to worry that you’ll grow famished in the five minutes since you last ate. They are also experts at making your most favorite childhood foods and the most heavenly-smelling dishes and snacks. Diet, meet the Filipino mom, aka your instant demise.

7. Being on a diet simply bears no meaning for the rest of the family.

Me: “I’m on a diet.”
Tatay: “Don’t eat the rice, then. Just have the ulam.”
Me: “No, I can’t eat that eith-“
Nanay: (looks over at my brother) “Anak, give your Ate more paksiw.”

6. It not only takes a lot of control, but an exhausting amount of effort as well.

Good luck constantly having to make separate meals for yourself because absolutely nothing fits into your diet. What’s for dinner? Crispy pata? Sisig? LECHON?!

5. There is a never-ending supply of white rice.

If white rice is a no-no on your diet, then goooood luck. It has a monopoly over the Filipino household’s rice supply, thus ousting common diet alternatives like quinoa and brown rice. Not to mention, it’s a staple, eaten all day and every day.

4. The pantry is always stacked with Filipino snacks.

Filipino snacks come in the flavors Sweet, Salty, and Addictive. And the Filipino household keeps a pantry well-stocked with every kind of chips, chocolate-covered pretzels, and candies the grocery store had to offer on its snack aisle. But hey, at least you can survive on yummy food during the apocalypse, because that’s the event for which the pantry seems extremely prepared.

3. It’s nearly impossible to keep track of calories.

A lot of Filipino dishes are amalgamations of a several different ingredients, meats, vegetables, and liquids. It’s a herculean task to try and keep track of the nutrition facts of each ingredient and the holistic dish. Modern calorie counter technology may also be rendered useless in aiding with the even the most common Filipino dishes. I mean, good luck trying to find “Kare-Kare” in your calorie counter app search.

2. Family reunions = Filipino feast

The Filipino culture is generally collectivist and very family-oriented, and so family and friends visit often. Each time they do, however, a grand feast of temptation is unavoidable. Filipino parties are basically invitations for each familial group to come and present their best, most mouth-watering, and most indulgent dishes. Oh, so you’ve managed to resist that tasty dish yesterday? Here are ten more for you to pit against your willpower!

1. Craving levels are intense.

Even if you can resist cheating on your diet in a Filipino household, you’re still surrounded by some of the best cuisine in the world, cuisine you’ve known and loved your entire life. It seems almost like psychological torture to have to pretend like those kale chips are chicharon. Face it. It’s massively difficult to diet in a Filipino household. But it’s not without its eventual benefits. Think of it as a challenging exercise in self-control and discipline. And of course, a diet, if done in a proper and healthy way, will lead to a bongang-bongang lifestyle. The whole ordeal also allows for a greater appreciation for the Philippines’ culinary gifts. That being said, it’s commendable to eat healthy, but don’t completely abstain from the best foods in the world. Go ahead, you need a halo-halo once in a while.