Food – How To Eat Healthy While In Korea
Korean food comes in many shapes and sizes and they’re all delicious. For those of us that are either health conscious or calorie-tracking individuals here is some nutritional information on Korean food.
Eating healthy in Korea should be easy, since their beloved Korean BBQ is served without any carb-heavy sides. While in the west you would have rice, potatoes or pasta, in Korea you have vegetables. And many of them.
Koreans call them banchan, and most are made out of vegetables but you can also find ones made out of beans (those black soy beans), fish (anchovies, shrimp sauces, gochujang seared cod) or just eggs. If you though vegetable banchan are bound to be healthy think again!
Most of them are spicy, most of them are salty but what you don’t know is that many have sugar in them. Sometimes the sugar is replaced by corn syrup which makes them even more unhealthy.
On the other hand, there are the Korean soups made from simple ingredients, many having an anchovy and seaweed or radish stock as a base. These could be healthy but it’s very easy for them to morph into unhealthy dishes. The secret lies in the salt! Actually, Korean have been getting yearly warning from the World Health Organization regarding the high amount of sodium they consume.
Restaurants are supposed to cook their food with a certain maximum amount of salt. Not respecting this law can result in severe fines.
One thing you should keep in mind is that no kimchi jjigae tastes like any other kimchi jjigae. Restaurants really put their own spin on the food. The restaurant roulette can either get you very healthy or very unhealthy food. Of course, when eating out there is little you can do about the amounts of fat and sodium in your food. However, there are a few tricks.
- Order lean cuts of mean when eating BBQ. You can also substitute pork for beef but, if your palate is not willing to make that sacrifice you could just cut the fatty bits off or push them on the other side of the grill pan.
- Skip the rice. Rice will fill you up but think about the fact that it has approximately 200 calories per serving. If the place you are at has a free salad bar, you can eat eat all the lettuce, onion and shredded carrot your heart pleases.
- Skip the side dishes. This sounds hard and it is hard but makes a big difference! The most inoffensive side dish I can think of is the yellow pickled radish, as it has no oil, salt or sugar, but is fermented in a brine of salt and sugar and is still a no-go if you want to lose weight or are hyperglycemic.
And now let’s start counting the calories!