Here are some observations and thoughts I have about the eating/health habits in the Philippines
My assumption that Filipinos in the Philippines are skinny is false. When I was in the cities, I saw Filipinos in all different sizes. I even saw some really obese Filipinos. I did notice that the Filipinos that lived in the province (rural areas) ARE skinny.
I hardly saw any “buff” or “fit” Filipinos. I only saw a few gyms, and those were in the major cities. All the “healthy” Filipinos I saw were skinny Filipinos. The “healthy” Filipino guys I saw were like skinny like manny pacquiao when he weighed under 110, but with less muscle.
I was one of the tallest people there. Even though I’m only 5’8”, I was towering over everyone at the mall. It’s a very weird realization to be taller than most.
The main oil they use is Palm oil, the second most popular oil is coconut oil. All their native snacks use Coconut, palm, or a combination of the two.
The sugar they use is unrefined cane sugar, which is naturally raw. This is the not the brown sugar we get in the US. If you go to starbucks, it is called “sugar in the raw”.
Filipinos love their sugar. It’s in meat, snacks, peanut butter,…
Filipinos food has a lot of fat. One of our first home made meals was pork belly adobo. Pork belly is one of the fattiest (and tastiest) part of the pig. The meal was heavenly.
Filipinos don’t shy away from simple carbs. Filipinos eat white rice with every meal. Drinking coke with each meal is the norm. Eating pasties/cookies for snacks (merienda), is not uncommon. I never, nor saw anyone eat complex carbs. No oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat noodles,…
My assumption that coke in the PI is made with sugar partially false. They still have coke in the glass bottles, which I think is made with sugar. If you get coke in the plastic bottle and probably also in the dispensing stations, you’ll see it’s made with “sugar or high fructose corn syrup”. That’s what it says on the plastic bottle labels.
Filipinos eat a lot of fish. My aunt said 6 days a week they eat fish, and 1 day a week they eat meat, like pork. In the US, it’s the opposite. Fish in the US is expensive, so it’s not practical to eat fish 6 days a week. In the Philippines, my aunt said they get so many fish that some days they just give it away.
The yolks in eggs are bright orange. It also tasted creamier and richer than our pale orange/yellow yolk eggs.
I saw no one jogging/running. I did see some signs for 5k run events though.
People walk a lot in the PI. Everywhere you can see people walking. People also walk to the market on a daily basis. My cousin said it’s because they have time to do that.
Drinking til drunk on a regular basis seems to be a big issue over there.
Everyone is concerned about high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. My relatives would always make a light hearted comment about these diseases when we ate fatty/sugary foods.
Even though fast food in the PI is like $1-$1.50 a meal, it’s still expensive for the average Filipino. It’s still much cheaper for them to cook in.
My wife and I have a church wedding there. During our marriage counseling session, even the 60-70 year old speaker gave us diet advice. He said avoid sugar and fatty foods because they cause diabetes and high blood pressure. He even went out further to say that we shouldn’t eat anything that tastes good. It might be me, but I don’t think diet advice should be giving during a marriage counseling session.
You can still gain weight from overeating. The last 4 days of my trip was nonstop eating and stuffing. This was because of a number of reasons:
1. I just had my church wedding, so it was a big party the day before, and the day of my wedding. Lots of food.
2. My US retired nurse aunt treated us all for our meals. The US dollar goes a long way in the PI, so she made sure we were all stuffed every meal and snack.
3. Airplane food is filling! Not only did I eat every single meal on the airplane, I also had bulgogi soup on my stopover in Korea.
When I came back from the PI, I gained 4 pounds, at a weight of 188. Today, two days later, I’m back to my pre-PI weight of 184.
OK those are all my thoughts/observations for now :)