Food I’ve cut out in my 30s
“I don’t drink alcohol, I’ve cut out all of it.”
Every time I say that, people often feel the need to change my mind with “A little sip is not going to hurt”, “It’s the weekend”, or the most patronising one “You won’t get drunk, don’t worry!”
B*tch, please. I have a collection of at least 20 rare whiskies and cognacs; I used to order and drink Moet by the dozens during weekends, and my daily habit was drinking red wine while watching Netflix or white wine when typing emails.
By modest standards, I could call myself an alcohol connoisseur. Yet, I simply do not drink now. This is the story of the food and drinks I cut out of my life in my 30s.
I led a typically-acceptable-but honestly-horrible lifestyle in my 20s. I sometimes wonder if I hadn’t spent Friday nights wasting away in alcohol and spicy “Level 10” buffalo wings, then waking up on Saturdays to have more mimosas and whatever carbs I could find, all while sipping away on lattes throughout the day, could I have had a healthier digestive system that allowed me to continue eating the foods I’ve had to cut out?
I’ll never know ‘cause when I was younger, I honestly did not care. I believed my body was invincible and could automatically heal itself. Now, in my 30s, I realised that there are limits to our bodies, and like it or not, some things have got to go.
Spicy Food: The first thing that had to go
Here’s the thing. From Malaysian-style sambal belacan and green curry paste from Bangkok to assam garam in Peranakan cooking and Singaporean laksa, I was blessed with a myriad of spicy foods from the Southeast Asian region since I was a kid.
Eating out with my friends, I often scoffed at those who only ate “xiao la” (spice level: low) because I always went for “da la” (spice level: high) or, when the adventurous option presents itself, “chao la” (spice level: extreme).
My spicy tolerance was so advanced that I often drizzled my food with so much chili. Once, I was even scolded by a noodle stall aunty for scooping too much free chili into my bee hoon soup. Talk about bad customer service.
As I entered my late 20s, I realised that I would get stomach discomfort every time I ate spicy foods. I gradually started moving towards “zhong la” (spice level: medium) to accommodate my body’s tolerance with a flavour my tongue could still enjoy.
Then, this happened.
One night, I ordered a “zhong la” mala xiang guo. Somehow, they got the order wrong and it was clearly a “da la”. I ate it anyway because I thought I was going to be okay. Well, no.
Have you experienced your stomach hurting, your limbs starting to go numb, your fingernails buzzing, and your vision turning white?
Well, that was me. I actually thought I was going to die. I ended up crawling to the kitchen and had to lie down on the floor, drinking soy milk for the next hour.
While staring at the ceiling, I told myself that the leeway I had in my 20s was gone forever. Whether we want to change our diet or not, our body will decide for us as it ages. So, if you start feeling weird reactions when you eat something familiar, don’t ignore the signs. Now, I stick to “xiao la”, the level that allows my stomach to not hurt when I eat it.
No more milk
Speaking of soy milk, that was something I actually never drank till I was in my 30s. Like a typical human being, I was used to cow’s milk that we’d usually find in cartons at the supermarket.
With age, I started feeling sick whenever I drank milk and started having runs if I drank as much as a flat white. I did some research and realised that in the animal kingdom, only newborns drink milk.
Humans are the only animals who not only drank milk from other animals, but also do so way beyond babyhood. After learning that, I actually felt lucky that my body tolerated it for 30 years.
Now, if you are realising that you too are becoming lactose intolerant, check out my recommendations for alternative milk:
- F&N NutriSoy High Calcium Fresh Soya Milk – Omega (No Sugar Added) $2.70
- Marigold Power Beans Fresh Soya Milk – Unsweetened $2.30
- FairPrice Hi Calcium Fresh Soya Milk – Unsweetened $1.75
All these brands taste pretty similar and rather milk-like. They also cost around $2 which is great. I tried the likes of oat milk, almond milk, and cashew milk. They taste good but are more expensive at around $5. For me, that’s not sustainable ‘cause that’s twice the price of regular and soy milk!
Bye bye white rice
Another shocking basic item I had to cut out was white rice. This was the most depressing of the lot as I love rice. Throughout my 20s, I managed to stay a slim 49kg despite eating at least two bowls of rice per meal.
The moment I turned 28, however, I started pounding on the kilos just by eating the same amount! By the time I was 30, I weighed 60kg!
It was ridiculous. It happened because I refused to believe that I needed to change my diet with age. I thought the idea that your metabolism would slow down was just an urban legend.
If you are in denial like me, I want you to consider that as we grow older, we get fewer chances to move our bodies as well. Gone are the clubbing days where we probably burn 1000 calories per night dancing and twerking away to Low by Flo Rida.
So, if you’ve started to realise that your weight is going up, start looking at your carbs intake. Some of my favourite carb alternatives now are cauliflower rice, brown rice, and chickpeas with edamame which provide protein! On busy months, I even subscribe to YOLO Foods for their bowls. On normal days, Salad Stop, Haakon or even Cold Storage are good choices.
Saying no to alcohol
Lastly, I stopped drinking alcohol. My alcohol-drinking career started way back in JC where we sneaked into clubs and drank copious amounts of complimentary vodka cranberry. Later, I graduated to craft beers, like the ones from Paulaner Brauhaus, tequila pops from Cafe Iguana at Robertson Quay, Wine Connection’s Top 10 list after kickboxing at Amore.
Drunken nights and hangovers aside, there was a major reason why I turned completely sober.
One day, I looked at the bottles of wine lining up my kitchen and genuinely asked myself, “ Are there truly no other beverages that are more nourishing for my body? Is there nothing at all that puts less work on my liver?”
Antioxidants are great and all, but there are so many other choices from juices and kombucha to good ol’ tea and floral infusions. All of which are definitely way cleaner for me and my body. So that’s when I decided to be an adult, and bid adieu to alcohol.
For once, I was in control of cutting out something. I chose to cut alcohol because I wanted to, and not because I was forced to.
Saving your health as you age
Whether you are in the camp of “Eat as much trash as you want in your 20s, because when the Big 3 comes, what’s gotta go will go” or “My body is a temple and I will only nourish it”, I just want to share that as much as I was never a health nut, it does feel good to say that for once in my life, I am consciously choosing healthier options for my stomach and my life. If we are lucky, next up, I might even start exercising.
I’m a former party animal who has decided to prioritise my health in my 30s, and this is my story. Now tell me yours!