Cambodia is Changing My Eating Habits

Cambodian Food & Cuisine, Living in Phnom Penh / Saturday, July 4th, 2009

As for most things in life, eating healthy and right can be difficult at the start. Specially since I lived most of my life in the Philippines where fast food as well as canned and processed food has become a way of life for a lot of people. The are a lot of tropical fruits and great variety of vegetables in the Philippines but with the massive onslaught of attractive marketing and advertising of not-so healthy food plus lifestyles that are becoming more and more busier, people have forgotten that its still better to eat natural. Thankfully, there is now an organic movement there that is slowly gaining popularity and I hope it does gather momentum so more and more people will be aware of it.

When we moved here in Phnom Penh last year, it was such a drastic change for me when it comes to eating habits. There are a lot of similarities between Filipino food and Cambodian food but perhaps its my in-law’s lifestyle that made the big difference. We lived with my in-laws for a few weeks and after we moved to our own place I would still eat with then whenever I feel not up to cooking. Here we eat a lot of vegetables, fruits and drinks a lot of tea. Tea is considered the “unofficial” national drink in Cambodia. Most households have a pot brewing fresh everyday and in most Khmer eating places a fresh pot of tea would always appear in front of you and this is free of charge.

Khmer style spring rolls – ground pork, shrimp, turnips, spring onions rolled in soybean wrappers, steamed & deep fried. Served with parsley and garlic-chili sauce.

Khmer Greens Saute. Usually made of kale leaves, mushrooms with some pork or chicken.

Breakfasts usually consists of porridge with either pork, beef or fish as flavorings or just plain porridge eaten with fried eggs or fried marinated pork.Fish is also an integral part of meals as there are plenty of freshwater fish available. Every meal consists of a soup (with veggies of course!), several kinds of sauteed veggies with some meat or seafood thrown in and rice.

Khmer Food

Another Khmer saute viand. ‘Ear’ Mushroom, celery, slices of pork and chicken liver. 

Banana Flowers with Pork Knuckles Soup

Then this is followed by big helpings of in-season fruits. Before I would only eat mangoes, banana, pears, grapes and apple, here I’ve sampled and grown hooked on mangosteen, dragon fruit, rambutan, lychees and those local oranges! For snacks, yes there are chips and junk food widely available, but they are not very fond of it. Snacks are usually home cooked foods like boiled/fried bananas or sweet potatoes, they also have many varieties of steamed rice cakes or if you are feeling particularly hungry, there are noodle soups everywhere.

I think I’ve eaten more vegetables and fruits here than I had in my whole lifetime :D. In fact, after a rough start, I’ve gotten so used to it that I can’t imagine not having fruits and vegetables in every meal. Whilst in the Philippines we used to do our food shopping in the supermarkets here we prefer buying fresh veggies and fruits in the markets early in the morning. There is not much in terms of refrigeration in the market so you have to buy your food stuff early to get the best.

After years of trying different fad diets, I came to realize that even the most talked about diet plans still cannot beat eating healthy and doing regular exercise. Since I came here, I haven’t really tried hard at losing weight but eating healthy and missing out on junk foods has unknowingly made me lose some weight. I lost a few pounds without really putting in much effort, just simply eating healthy foods. And not only that, I haven’t gotten sick (:D not even once) since I got here!

6 Replies to “Cambodia is Changing My Eating Habits”

  1. […] See more here: Cambodia is Changing My Eating Habits | pinaywifespeaks […]

    1. hi edel. yes! i’m feeling the benefits already. i do still indulge once in a while but i’m getting used to eating healthier. thanks for hopping along..

  2. Hi Lui! I am enjoying your blog. I found it while searching around about the news of direct flights from Manila to Phnom Penh. As I read, I felt the need to strike a conversation with you, because I might move to Phnom Penh for good in the near future. I felt a connection with you, as I understand the internet dilemma and your reaction to Khmer food. Are you married to a Khmer guy? Above is my email, I really hope to hear from you soon. I would really love to “talk” with you about Phnom Penh and Khmer culture. Thank you so much.

    1. hi pauline, many thanks. added you to my contacts. I’m still waiting on the developments about the direct flights. as of this time, both govt’s have signed an agreement to open routes and im wishing by next year meron nang flights. im so looking forward to that coz i’m so tamad to travel esp with a kid.

  3. Hi Lui!

    Thanks for posting this blog. I’m really hoping that Cambodia’s cuisine will help me lose weight as well. 🙂

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now, thanks for helping me get to know Cambodia from afar. My husband and I will be moving to Phnom Pehn in July for two years at least.

    I am an avid thrift shopper and look forward to scouring the shops there.

    Maybe one day we can meet up and shop together!?

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