Samui Wining & Dining
Dippy Diets

On Samui, eating healthily doesn’t mean you have to miss out.


05It’s likely that you, or someone close to you, have been on a diet at some point. And no doubt there was some initial weight loss quickly followed by a period of weight gain until you were more or less back to where you started. And that cycle often repeats itself over the years; it’s what the marketing companies rely on. Down the decades a whole host of celebrity-endorsed diets have come and gone. And yet we still seem to fall for the same old fallacies.

Cast your mind back and you might recall the ‘Cabbage Soup Diet’. It was a radical diet designed around heavy consumption of a low-calorie cabbage soup over seven days. However, most of the weight loss was water and not fat and therefore not permanent. In addition, the soup had an extremely high sodium content, usually to make it palatable, and the diet provided practically zero protein for several days at a time. And the gaseous side-effects ensured you lost friends faster than the weight.

How about the ‘Grapefruit Diet’? It was later proved to be unhealthy, at best, and, at worse, downright dangerous. And if you were a fatty in the 1970s you might have opted for the ‘Israeli Army Diet’. It had no connection whatsoever with the Israeli Army and the regime was unsustainable over the long term. Sure, after the eight-day programme you might have been able to squeeze into a slightly smaller pair of flared jeans but the physical effects of the limited nutritional intake would have made you too ill to go out. And after one day back on your normal eating pattern, your rear end returned to looking like two dogs fighting in a bag.

In more recent times, there’s been the ‘Atkins Diet’, the ‘Macrobiotic Diet’ and the ‘South Beach Diet’. The latter was endorsed by Bill and Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, the actress Kim Cattrall (from ‘Sex and the City’), Bette Midler, the singer Lorna Luft and Nicole Kidman, amongst others. Millions of people bought into it and yet the only two ‘scientific’ studies to find favourable results for groups using it were – go on have a guess. Yep, that’s right; one study was by cardiologist Arthur Agatston and dietician Marie Almon who just happened to have designed the diet. And the other study was by Kraft Foods, the makers of the South Beach Diet food line.

So what are the latest fads we’re all throwing our credit cards at? Well, there are two that stand out and neither was designed specifically for weight-loss but they have grown in popularity. Perhaps it’s too soon to call them fads, they probably need to become more mainstream and be featured on day-time television chat shows. Such shows are, I’m lead to believe, very popular with fat people.

The first is the ‘BRAT Diet’, it’s an acronym that stands for the types of foods that you should eat in order to avoid an increase in dyspepsia and gastroenteritis. Therefore, Bananas, Rice, Apple sauce and Tea are on the menu. They are all bland and easy to digest and have low amounts of fibre. And weight loss does occur in the early days. However, whilst it is helpful in reducing stomach ailments it does lack protein so a lean meat such as turkey or tofu probably needs to be added to the diet.

Secondly, there’s the ‘Ketogenic Diet’. It was developed to help reduce hard-to-treat epilepsy in children. At first glance, it looks the opposite of many diets available; however, it was not developed for weight-loss, as such. It emphasizes consuming high fat, moderate to high protein and a low amount of carbohydrates. And it works in a similar way to the ‘Atkins Diet’ in that it forces the body to burn fat rather than carbohydrates. In general, the body generates glucose for the functioning of both the body and brain; however, when carbs are restricted, the liver has no choice but to convert fat into ketone bodies. As more and more ketone bodies are created, the body goes into a state of ketosis. This excess amount of ketosis is actually quite beneficial to those children that suffer from hard-to-treat epilepsy, because ketosis acts as an anti-convulsant. Scientific studies show a substantial reduction in epilepsy by those children that go on the diet. However, whilst it’s appealing to those striving to lose weight, no scientific studies that I’m aware of have been published directly related to it.

So tell me, how many of you went on a diet before you came on holiday? I suspect quite a few of you. But I’m sure you don’t want to spend your vacation time solely focused on what you consume. And there’s no need to, you can enjoy all the tastes and textures of Thai and international foods on Samui without worrying. Many of the leading resort restaurants have highly-experienced and skilled chefs at the helm. And they’ve developed their careers in a time when nutrition and calorific intake are key considerations when devising menus. The days of heavy sauces laden with cream and butter are long gone. And most of the resorts have excellent spas and the chefs now work with the spa managers and dietary consultants to devise what some call ‘spa cuisine’. Not all of them use the moniker but they will all have dishes that complement spa therapies and have a balance of nutrients, as well as being packed full of flavours. So, have a chat with the chef at your resort; they’ll be only too pleased to make recommendations for you.

You’ll also find vegetarian eateries, like Amala Restaurant at Prana Resort in Bangrak and The Love Kitchen at Absolute Sanctuary, that have outstanding, carefully crafted menus. And the latter also has free weekly seminars on subjects related to a healthy mind and body. Eating wisely doesn’t mean having to miss out on Samui’s wonderful culinary traditions, to do so really would be a mad fad!


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