How to Choose Healthy Food Ingredients

My parents have a neighbor who just survived from leukimia (blood cancer) at the age of 14. He had this desease when he was 12 and must undergo cancer treatments for 2 years. He didn’t go to school during that time, and the doctor said it was a miracle that he finally went home and continues his school until now.

Since he’s back now, my mother asked his family about his health condition and his home treatment. She said that the boy now can only eat vegetable, fish, and fruits. No red meat, fried food, any kind of nuggets from the supermarket, seafood except fish, and food that contains MSG (Monosodium Glutamate which gives extra taste to the food). What surprised us was he can not also eat any kind of sauce such as soy sauce, oyster sauce, etc. So he usually eats rice with stir fry vegetables cooked with little sugar and salt.

Recently, my mother also had small problem with her health and the doctor said she must avoid food which contains MSG and preservatives. So our family started to be very selective in choosing food ingredient when we cook at home. We still eat outside, but it’s only one or twice a week and we try to always include vegetables and fruits when we dine out. Our doctors (the three of us go to different doctors) also suggested that it is better to start live a healthy life by exercising and eat healthy food. The doctors recommended brown/red rice, fish, vegetables, and fruits only as our diet for a healthier life. Avoid oily food, fried food, and food with MSG and preservatives.

My family and many Chinese families are used to cook with soy sauce, Worchester sauce, sweet soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, etc, but when we look carefully at the ingredients used in the making of the sauces, you will find out that most of them are using MSG and preservatives. MSG sometimes comes with another name, but the clue is: whenever you find ingredient with strange and difficult name to spell and you have no idea what it is…..than it is usually MSG.

Once I got so curious that I looked carefully behind almost all soy sauce in the supermarket, and also what I have at home. It was no surprise for me that I found out that most of the soy sauce (even from famous brand) contains these two dangerous ingredient for our bodies. I have two brands of soy sauce at home. The one that I often used to cook with because we like the taste better, and the other one had been standing in my kitchen cabinet for a long time because it is only good for some dish but not a perfect match for stir fry vegetables or claypot rice or chicken rice. You guessed it right, the last one is the healthier one because when I read the ingredients carefully, it only contains water, soybean, sea, salt, and must be put into the refrigerator once it’s opened. The sauces that require to be put in to fridge when it’s opened are usually using no preservatives.

So far, my soy sauce, fish sauce, and sesame oil are the ones with no MSG and preservatives. I still have my homework to look for the right sweet soy sauce and oyster sauce. I haven’t found any brands which contains no MSG and preservatives for oyster sauce and sweet soy sauce.  I know that I can’t always choose the healthiest one, but at least I am now aware of the contains and the risk of using it. In short term there migh be no consequences for our body, but in the long term……………who knows?

And the list goes on with other food ingredients. Luncheon ham (canned meat) and corned beef are absolutely out of my shopping list now, no matter how much we like the taste. It is very easy to cook using those two kinds of meat, but I know it’s too risky in the long term. Canned meat usually use much salt, MSG to make it tastes delicious, and of course preservatives so it can last for months.

What about sausages and picnic ham that I used to buy to make hotdogs and sandwich? Well, I still make hotdogs sometimes but it’s not even once in a month now. And no, I don’t buy picnic ham from the supermarket anymore.  Accidentally, I found a brand of fish ball and fried fish ball from with natural ingredients and no preservatives. So I am starting to buy them too.

That’s not all. Now I come to something that my son consumes almost everyday……….milk! Do you know how to choose the milk? The whole my life, I never read carefully what is it in the milk that I buy. I thought milk was just……milk. Now I change the milk into fresh milk. At first my lil boy didn’t like it, but now he’s get used to it and has no problem drinking this kind of milk.

In order to stay healthy, I also feed my family mostly with fish and vegetables. Most of the time I use only chicken kampong with no skin, no pork, and only use small amount of prawn when I want to make fishball (salmon meatball). I also reduce the consumption of red meat because it’snot good in the long term for our body. My mother taught me to cook with more garlic because garlic is very good to prevent cancer and contains allicin, ajoene and thiosulfinates — three powerful compounds that help the body prevents and fights infections.

I know that I may sound strange with all the list above. But I’ve seen many kind of diseases around me, and most of them are caused by not so healthy life style. So changing the life style is maybe the easiest way to prevent the diseases from coming to us.

Is changing life style (live a healthy life) guarantee that we won’t get sick in the future? Absolutely not. I had a friend whose father lived a very healthy life style including doing the exercise, no smoking, only ate home cooked food……………but one day he had a very serious illness and it was caused by…..virus! It had nothing to do with his life style. But maybe because he had a healthy life style before he got sick, he could lived a longer life than most of the people that also have the same disease.

It might not be easy to eat right all the time especially when we dine out, but let’s combine it with healthier eating at home and good exercises. I hope we all can live a healthy live until even in our old days.

I think the way we eat starts showing good impact after all. My son, who was very easy to get sick (cough, sore throat, fever, cold, dust and AC allergy) and sometimes they could last for months and require more than one visit to the doctor, is starting to show good body immune system nowadays. I also give him vitamins twice a day and combines it with good habit of eating. It’s almost half a year now without any serious fever, cough, cold, etc. Even though he sometimes feels unwell, but he recovers soon. I do hope this will lasts for a very long time……..and that all of us will always stay healthy…………


2 thoughts on “How to Choose Healthy Food Ingredients

  1. Arin

    I tried vegetarian soy sauce since I found out that there’s no msg in it. Sometimes I wonder how to cook good food without those bottled sauce. I just ‘depend’ on garlic, salt, sweet soy sauce, and herbs. I cannot define whether the dish is Asian or Western because I just mix them to add a bit flavour to the dish. Lol. So if you have other secret ingredients (if there is any and healthy ones), please share with me. Bunch of thanks… 🙂

    1. Hi, I’m not always using those sauces to cook, and there are actually many dish that I can cook without those sauces.
      Since I’m Indonesian and we have so many traditional spices, I use those spices to cook all the time. I use lots of garlic, shallots, turmeric, hazelnut, root fingers, lime leaves, curry leaves, basil, nutmeg, coriander, ginger, galangal, cinnamon, red and green tomatoes, etc………
      There are many kind of dish that can be created by only using traditional herbs and there are absolutely delicious even without any sauces or MSG. And yes, they are absolutely healthy. Although the preparation, cooking process, and washing all the dishes can take longer time than the usual, but it is worth the efforts. So, good luck in finding new recipes to a healthier living.

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