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Old 03-23-2008, 06:34 AM   #1  
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Default I'm thought it would be easy to diet in Korea

I just moved here to teach English for a year and save some money and thought that since Koreans tend to be skinny and eat a lot of veggies and because I would be getting a lot more exercise with walking my dog and running after preschoolers, that i would be able to lose weight, but I failed to take into account that a lot of Koreans stay skinny by not eating when they start to gain weight and that my allergies would hit me like a train this past week. I'm a bit of an emotional eater, so I've been missing home, dealing with the stress of my new job, apartment, friends, and lack of funds until my first paycheck next month.

I've been here three weeks and have not lost any weight because despite the extra exercise, I discovered lots of really tasty cookies, a pastry shop on my way to work, and a cheap pizza place (really need to save money for the next 2 weeks). I never thought of myself as an emotional eater until I took into account how short of money I was and that I needed to pay $15 for some photos out of my diminished funds and immediately went to Baskin Robbins for an ice cream and felt much better and able to deal with the money situation afterward. Also I bought lots of cookies yesterday when I was feeling down about my allergies.

Anyway all the foods i used to eat back home seem absent from the grocery store which can be good (sadly no cheese :sob or bad, mostly unidentifiable veggies and most of the food seems to expire really quickly.

So anyway, I may have lost some weight since moving here last month since I was weighed last week and weighed in at 165 whereas I was weighing in nearer to 170 before that, but I can't be sure if its the difference in scales.

Bother, and all the women around me are so much smaller than I am both in height and weight. Seriously I feel huge sometimes. I mean, I'm the biggest person I see most days. I never noticed how many other overweight people there were back home until I got here and saw a sea of skinny people.

So anyway, how do ya'll deal with emotional eating?
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Old 03-23-2008, 07:12 AM   #2  
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Hey! I get munchie when I'm under stress, and what helps me is to have some lower calorie foods I can chew on, like carrots sticks, celery sticks, and other vegetables. Also, chewing sugarfree gum can help with that.

As someone who suffers from allergies, I can tell you that ice cream makes things worse... as does eating a lot of sugar... So try to stay away from foods like that.

It's really hard to find yourself alone in a foreign country... Try to take it easy... do keep up with your exercise--that also helps with emotional eating.

Good luck!
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Old 03-23-2008, 07:16 AM   #3  
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Hi! I rarely contribute to posts like this... dieting in Korea isn't easy for Americans... I've been here for over 2+ years and eating on the Korean economy is very different than what we're used to. And yes, the majority of the Korean people are very fit looking, which can be a downer if you're trying to buy clothes and the odjima tells you "you are too big! You are 4 times extra large", when I'm truly a size 10, hardly a xxxxl.

Koreans have a different outlook on life, eating, and social ties. That relates to their food. True that their diet is heavy in vegetables, but not in the style we're used to. Several friends have taken to the Korean cuisine, but I haven't yet developed an affinity for kimchi. But I enjoy the kalbi (grilled meat), you'll have to search around for a place that you like.

If you ask some of your students, they can probably direct you to the larger department / grocery stores such as Emart or Lotte which may carry more western type goods; the challenge is the Won rate will quickly drain your account. Most cities also have a daily or weekly market, you should be able to find a better pick of fruits and veggies at a lower, or negotiable price.

A suggestion I give to friends trying to lose weight is to keep a diet diary. I use the website "sparkpeople" as a free, web-based service. It's even got a journal portion where you can start to see the correlation between the your moods and food intake.

Best of luck and don't let the kimchi get you down!
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Old 03-23-2008, 09:27 AM   #4  
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Well, as for emotional eating, I now realize I do it too. And it really helps me to plan ahead, especially if I know I'll have one of my "triggers". For really hairy days at work a big bag of cutup vegetables, for example.

But you're dealing with a big emotional issue of being overseas and the culture shock that goes with it. I lived abroad in Asia for 4 months (2 in China and 2 in Japan) at nearly my highest weight. I had to walk everywhere and did really think I'd lose weight. But because of a lot of issues, including emotions, I didn't. I hadn't realized how available western style food would be and in many ways gravitated to it, along WITH all the local food. I ate up a storm! At least I didn't gain while abroad (all that walking!)

I guess you have to find ways to find some healthy food that fits your budget, try to plan ahead, and embrace the exercise!!!
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Old 03-23-2008, 10:24 AM   #5  
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Hi anabolina,

I am not sure how it is with Korean food, but I think (although I may be wrong) that Chinese food, for example, which also seems to be overflowing with veggies, has a lot of fat in it. And coconut milk is quite fatty (although it is probably the good fat).
Any chances of cooking at home instead of eating out? Even though I know that food in Thailand (and I assume in Korea also) is very cheap (but that is when measured in dollars, as a tourist) it surely must be cheaper to make it at home.

Hang in there! Try to look at the positive side - you are in an exotic country and you will get to know its culture and customs from first hand experience. And I am sure, eventually, you will both save money and lose weight.

And as far as feeling huge goes, yah, you may be the biggest but you are also the tallest! When you are feeling this way, think of Tomato - how SHE would have felt when she is still over 200 lbs!!! :-)
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Old 03-25-2008, 01:19 AM   #6  
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Hey there! I definitely sympathise - I think we're pretty lucky in Thailand to have access to a lot of Western things that aren't available (from what friends have told me) in Korea. However, perhaps it might help if you have a specific weightloss plan? I'm low carbing it with Atkins - and although I admit that cheese is definitely a much-enjoyed component of my eating plan, it also involves a lot more meat/fish/chicken than was my wont. (And lots of nice veggies - but then it's easy to find familiar veggies here along with the more exotic things.) Are there no Japanese eateries around? Or would they be horribly expensive? Lots of Japanese stuff is pretty healthy as well as yummy!

As to the whole skinniness of the local lasses - God, yes, isn't that a pain? But I was totally braced for that, coming out - it was actually a big part of my concerns about coming to Asia, because I knew it would be kind of a blow. And actually, I think I found it a lot easier than a lot of my skinnier friends - because they went from feeling like hot, sexy chicks to suddenly feeling fat and unattractive, and baffled at the lack of male attention.

Granted, I don't particularly LIKE looking like I ate a local, and I rather miss having shops that stock clothes in my size - but there are plenty of tailors, so I can get things made EXACTLY to my preferences, rather than picking whatever they have in the shop. I rather enjoy that.

If emotional eating is a danger - and I think it's very understandable if it is at this point! - then maybe try to plan ahead? Can you buy healthier snackfood, like nuts or fruit or whatever, and have them to hand? (I'm forever carrying around packets of sunflower seeds these days.) Or else can you maybe bargain with yourself - allow yourself one really indulgent treat a week, whether it be Baskin Robbins icecream or delicious cookies or whatever?

And, hey - if you want to come over to Thailand for a couple of days and pick up some home comforts, you're very welcome to crash on my sofabed! (We have sugarfree chocolate!)

Last edited by broadabroad; 03-25-2008 at 01:25 AM.
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Old 03-25-2008, 01:41 PM   #7  
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Hi Ana! We just moved back Stateside after spending a year in Korea. We were at Osan Air Base, south of Seoul. I often referred to Korea as The Land of Skinny!

It's hard to be anywhere new, let alone dealing with the stress you have. What about sitting down and writing out a menu plan? That helps keep me on track.

Good luck with everything! I'm far from an expert, but if you need any tips on surviving in Korea, feel free to ask! I did it with a six year old, three year old, and one year old!

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