Most of us indulge in the luxury of not having to cook an evening meal from time to time, and nothing beats Thai food in my opinion! It’s soooo yummy! But…is Thai food healthy?
When it comes to takeaway options Thai food is often seen as the healthier choice. Pizza is usually greasy, loaded with cheese, has processed meats and has a high carbohydrate base; Burgers are a bit the same…lots of carbs, usually has cheese and a big helping of red meat and often fat, sauces and mayos drip out the sides. There are exceptions to the rule, of course you can make some healthier choices when it comes to these takeaway foods but we would usually hold back on regular indulgence because it’s pretty clear that these foods are not all that great for us. We can also lump in Chinese food which is often deep fried and dripping with sugary sauces and Indian food which often has rich creamy bases. Thai food on the other hand is easier to indulge in regularly without thinking too much about it because it is often seen as healthy. Here are a few reasons why you may want to rethink the regularity in which you consume Thai food.
It may not taste as sweet as Chinese food, but don’t let that fool you. Most Thai food dishes are loaded with sugar! When I’d been off sugar for about 2 months, we went out for Thai food one night and I was very surprised at how sweet the dishes were. Even the green curry tasted really sweet to me! When we are eating sugar all the time, our taste buds get accustomed to it and don’t notice it as much but believe me, most places put a lot of sugar into the dishes. If you look at home recipes for making Thai food even they call for about a tablespoon of sugar, combine that with the the carbohydrate from the rice turning to sugar in your blood stream and that’s a lot of sugar for your body to process unless you are planning to go for a run after dinner!
When I did a Thai cooking class in Thailand a few years ago I was horrified at the use of soybean oil as standard practice in the cooking. We asked them not to put it in which they complied with but that’s just the way they have always cooked, it’s how their mothers and grandmothers taught them. Some forms of soy are healthy and some are not, soybean oil is one of the not healthy ones!
A lot of places are starting to key on that we don’t want MSG in our food, no matter how flavorful or how pretty it makes our food look. MSG or monosodium glutamate is found in trace amounts in some foods such as tomatoes and cheese however the stuff we find in a lot of Chinese and Thai food is processed and more of it is used than found in nature. Some people are fine with MSG and it is generally recognised as safe in small doses, where as other people get headaches, flushing, sweating and nausea just to name a few. So perhaps it’s not the curry that’s giving you the sweaty red glow!
So what’s the solution? At the start, I mentioned, I love Thai food, in fact, I’m going out to an amazing Thai restaurant tonight, yummy, yummy! However I know this restaurant does not use MSG or soy and they use very modest amounts of sugar focusing on a full spectrum of flavours. If I’m going to order Thai food for home I always ask them if they use MSG and soy and I ask them not to use it in my food. I also let them know that I don’t like it too sweet, most places are happy to comply and after you do it a few times, you don’t feel like you’re being a pain! I also enjoy cooking Thai food at home from scratch, they are a lot of work, but very tasty! I have made curries, chilli jam and soups. If you find a recipe to cook at home switch soybean oil for coconut oil and cut way back on the sugar and use coconut sugar instead and definitely don’t add MSG! I’ll share one of healthy Thai food recipes next week but until then if you have any you’d like to share please feel free to post here or email them to me at [email protected]