“Paleo Thailand” – these aren’t words you would expect to hear together very often. But here are some pearls of wisdom and a very useful translation for making Paleo Thailand a reality. The translation below is a lifesaver for anyone who wants to stay gluten free/Paleo or generally more healthy when visiting Thailand!
Fellow nutritional therapy practitioners, I urge you to give this to any clients who are travelling to Thailand!
Request that Thai cooks use coconut oil instead of yucky vegetable oils, and avoid gluten and soy in your food.
Over two articles I share my 5 tips for staying healthy in Thailand through eating good food, drinking quality water and supporting your digestion. In part I, I cover the key tips associated with the translation below. In part II I look at a few extra tips to stay well.
I have spent a lot of time in Thailand at different stages of my health journey. My most recent trip was while I was on a strict gut healing protocol and very sensitive to lots of foods. I understand how difficult it can be to control what you’re eating enough to stay well on holiday.
Thai people are some of the most friendly and accommodating. During my last ten-day trip, there was only one eatery (which was fancy and a bit snooty) that wouldn’t assist with my request. Don’t be shy to show restaurant owners this translation, you will feel so much better for it!
A must have! This translates to:
“I have an allergy to wheat and soybeans. Please do not use wheat noodles or soy sauce in my meals. Please use my oil (Coconut oil) because other oils make me feel ill.”
To make your life easier, I urge you to download this translation, save it on your phone and carry it everywhere! Your body will thank you for it.
1. Carry coconut oil
For anyone who tries to eat Paleo, coconut oil is a staple.
On my most recent trip to Thailand (April 2018), coconut season in the south was in full swing! Everywhere I went on Koh Phangan you could buy different sized bottles of coconut oil, not to mention the delicious fresh coconut water straight out of the coconuts. I made the mistake of trying to take my own coconut oil over to Thailand, coconut central – whoops! I didn’t have an appropriate jar and of course in the hot temperatures it melted and then leaked into my bag.
Save yourself the hassle and just buy some coconut oil where you’re staying. If you’re on a tropical island, just look around. The abundance of native coconut trees reassured me that this coconut oil would be organic.
If you’ve been following my blog for long, you will know that saturated fats are much safer and healthier for cooking. I cover the science behind why saturated fats are safer in this post.
In a nutshell, saturated fats (ie coconut oil) contain no double bonds. Oils that do contain double bonds (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) are broken and damaged when heated. This releases free radicals, which are incredibly damaging to the body. They react with our cells and tissue causing inflammation. If this inflammation continues out of control it can cause heart disease, cancer and neuro-degeneration (dementia).
Unfortunately in Thailand, like the rest of the world, the population has been convinced that saturated fat is the enemy and oils like soybean and canola are safer for cooking. I cover why vegetable oils are so dangerous in this post. Vegetable oils go rancid in the heat – they are not made for hot temperatures.
In recent years I have become extremely sensitive to vegetable oils. When I eat food cooked in bad oil I feel nauseous for hours afterwards. However, when the exact same food is cooked in healthier oil such as coconut, lard or beef fat then I am completely fine.
This is why I stated taking my own coconut oil to eateries in Thailand. Having done numerous cooking classes and just watching cooks make pad thai, I was a bit frightened by the amount of rancid oil added to dishes.
Take this translation, along with a bottle of coconut oil and show it to the person cooking your food. They will likely read it a few times, laugh and then take your oil to cook with. The difference is huge!!
2. Avoid gluten and soy
If you are sensitive to gluten and/or soy then this translation will also help you there. Avoid dishes that contain soy, and where possible oyster sauce. In a hot country where your digestion might already compromised avoiding gluten is a huge favour to your body. I look at the problems with gluten in this post.