DEAR PGS: My Culture Eats Fattening Food

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“Dear PGS, I'm 17 years old and currently in a Malaysian secondary school (high school). I'm 152cm (4' 9") tall and my weight is 75kg (165 lbs) and I've been overweight since kindergarten. My uncles and aunts used to teased me by asking me when I'm going to lose weight and I only smiled back at them and sometimes I said I'll lose my weight in the next 10 years. I was watching the US version of "The Biggest Loser" and I was inspired by their determination to live a healthy life. I was on a diet but only for about 5 days because I can't resist the temptations of food. That was the first and the last time I was on a diet.

It is hard to resist unhealthy food because most Malaysian food is unhealthy like Nasi Lemak, which literally means fatty rice in English, and it comes with side dishes like fried anchovies, toasted peanuts, half of a hard boiled egg, sambal (Malaysian ketchup) and chicken cooked in tomato sauce. Other than that, we have Roti Canai a.k.a Roti Pratha, which they used ghee (clarified butter) to cook it, some of our everyday food is cooked in coconut milk, and our traditional kuih is loaded with coconut milk and sugar. I tried to replace white rice that we usually eat with oats but it didn't work. I want to lose weight so bad but I just don't know how and where to start. All of my closest friends and family members have an ideal weight. Please help me PGS, I need your help.”

Dear 17 & Dieting,
 
The desire to lose and maintain healthy weight is something that many people struggle with, so you are not alone. You said that you have watched the Biggest Loser so you know that in order to lose weight you have to make healthy food choices as well as exercise. Prior to making any of those changes you should see a doctor to ensure that it is ok for you to exercise and to be given good advice on how to manage what you are currently eating. A doctor can also check to make sure there are no underlying causes as to why you might have a hard time controlling your weight.
 
Based on your letter it seems that you are smart and aware as to what foods are high in fat and can be problematic. Keep in mind that it isn’t always just the food itself but also how much of it you consume. Many doctors will tell you that portion control as well as exercise are important factors to losing and maintaining your weight.
 
Please remember that you should never compare yourself and body to anyone else’s because we are all different body types with our own unique dietary needs.
 
Check in with me and let me know what your doctor says.
 
Yours truly,
Cheryl S. Grant
 
 
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CONTRIBUTOR | Cheryl S. Grant has reported, written and researched stories for magazines such as Vanity Fair, Vogue, W, InStyle, Family Circle, USA Today, MSN, and Glamour. She has covered numerous subjects, including tech, pop culture, gift guides, entertainment, family, psychology, fitness, nutrition, food, beauty, fashion, and how to live a green life.