Getting Back in Shape: Eat Healthy(er) Part 1

As a continuation of my story (here and here), I’m going to share how I changed my eating habits and diet without getting ‘hungry’, in several articles. Today is about setting the restrictions.

One of the major problems I had (I still do sometimes) was how I eat. Since college, I never rarely put any boundaries to what food I consumed. I would just eat whatever and whenever I want, even if I wasn’t hungry. And without zero exercise, inevitably, the weight gain was uncontrollable.

When I first started going to the gym, I had a session with the in-house nutritionist. After she measured out my weight and whatnot, she set out a course of meals for me and limitations. Well, I knew this was coming. But I was committed.

Alright, I’m pretty sure by now that you know what’s healthy and what’s not. Be honest. I do, yet I simply set the guilt aside and kept eating the ‘good’ stuff. Fine, I’ll give you some pointers.


  • Complex Carbohydrates: brown rice, whole grain bread, oatmeal, muesli, cassava, potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro, corn.
  • Animal Proteins: chicken breast, tenderloin, egg whites, sea/freshwater fish.
  • Plant Proteins for snacking: mung bean, red bean (soup), soy bean, steamed edamame, soy milk.
  • Plant Proteins for meals: tempe, tahu, red bean, peas, soy (soup).
  • Dairy Products: non/low fat milk, yogurt, cottage cheese.
  • Healthy Fats: avocado, olive oil, canola, corn oil.


  • Anything that has high level of sugar; it makes you hungry easier, therefore, you’ll eat more. E.g. juice boxes, soda drinks, syrup, pancake, muffin, pastries, cake, brownies, cookies, biscuits, drinks with >10 g of sugar/serving.
  • Trans Fat: pizza, burger, french fries, potato chips, donuts, junk food.
  • Gluten: white bread, sweet bread, noodles, pasta, kwetiaw, sweet/salty crackers.
  • High level of sodium: canned foods (sardines, corned beef, ham/bacon, tuna), sausage, cheese, nuggets.
  • Source of protein: egg yolks, meatballs, brain, dark meat, chicken skin, pork, sirloin, full cream milk, cheese, cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk.
  • Source of fat: oil in fried food, coconut milk, butter, margarine.


Well, the above lists are my basic guidelines. But, these are the things she specifically put a restriction on me NOT to eat.

Goodbye Pasta!

This is, without a doubt, the toughest challenge. I eat pasta, noodles and the likes almost every day. Rice is not my preference, ask my family, they can vouch this. If there’s another choice of carbohydrates other than rice, I’d go for it. How about rice vermicelli? I’m allowed to eat that once in a while, although still not advisable. Even though it’s rice-based, it’s still processed food. So, since that’s out of the menu now, what did I pick? Brown rice. I actually like it better than white rice, surprisingly. Guess what? Ever since I stopped eating them, I shed weight right away.

So long humble breads!

Bread is something that I’d eat rather often. It’s an easy fix for the hunger, I always say. I would eat it in the morning as breakfast, snack on it in the afternoon and as an extra stuffer when the tummy goes cranky at night. Turns out, this could be the culprit of the weight gain. Then what about whole wheat breads? She said no too. “It is still processed”, she said. That answer alone is enough for me.

Got milk? No.

If it is cheese, I get it. But milk, really? I drink milk every single day since I was a baby. I asked her what about my calcium needs. She said that I could get it elsewhere (from vegetables or supplements). The problem is that milk is quite hard to be digested. Whatever is left that isn’t digested would just sit in the body, doing nothing. And the amount of calcium isn’t that much either. So, yogurt? Yes!

Holy grail of all fats.

Fried rice. I had a story for you. It was in the beginning of my diet. I once cheated and ate this for lunch. And guess what, that very same day when I went to the gym and got myself weighted, I gained 1-2% of fat. It took me a couple of weeks to lose 1%. All that energy and sweat went to waste. Can you imagine how I felt? Dead guilty. This is the most concrete proof I’ll ever get. Fried rice is evil.




In general, the nutritionist emphasized that natural food is the way to go. Cook it at home, with fresh ingredients with less oil and salt. Eat more vegetables and fruits. Snack on them.

Again, I can explain all the food we should avoid but I’m sure you can be the judge of that. After all, it depends on what you need and trying to achieve. The nutritionist set this boundaries specifically for me and it works wonders.

Now that I know the restrictions, it made things easier and hard. Hard because with limited food, it’s challenging to satisfy my cravings and hunger. I avoided all of the above for several months and it wasn’t easy. I’m not saying I didn’t cheat, I did, but conscience came back soon afterwards. It’s just a matter of will and state of mind.

Next, I’m going to share what my meals are on a day-to-day basis and what to do with the cravings. Stay tuned!