Mother (妈妈) knows best!
If you’ve got an Asian mum in your life, you’ll know that they take your health very seriously.
From the platters of cut fruit, to the clickbaity WeChat articles they send you about the dangers of instant noodles, they (and their arsenal of TigerBalm tubs) are always ready to fight off any health problem at hand.
Sure, their advice usually comes in the form of sermons, or passive aggressive text messages. You may even wish they came with a built-in mute button when they nag about your sleep schedule at the dinner table. But when has an Asian mum ever been wrong about needing a jacket? When have you not been magically cured of your sickness after drinking their congee? Especially with the dreaded exam season just around the corner, it’s more important than ever to be taking care of ourselves.
This week, I spoke to my mum Jenny—accountant by day, health practitioner/nutritionist/naturopath by night, for her top tips on surviving the last stretch of sem two.
Disclaimer: Despite graduating from WeChat University with Honours, Jenny is not a qualified health professional. Please take her tips with caution. Alternatively, you could take after her daughter’s example and 当儤边风 (let her advice go in one ear and out the other).
Eat a balanced diet
Jenny says, “Chinese medicine says we need to be eating all five colours to support our five internal organs (賟脏对賟蛷). This means students should be eating as many different colours and varieties of food groups as possible. Make sure to eat enough carbohydrates, protein, and fat. You may be young now, but you won’t be young forever”.
Above all, do NOT consume cold drinks or beverages. Especially if you’re on your period. This will disrupt your body’s yin and yang balance, and a hot body temperature is needed “to fight off disease”.
Detoxify your body (袶‘)
Jenny believes “the food we eat has different types of poisons inside. Students need to eat wholegrains (襑’) to flush out these poisons and not be constipated. Aim for at least one third of your total food intake to be made of whole grain carbohydrates, like brown/black rice, wholemeal bread, kumara, millet, or oatmeal.
“If these poisons stay inside of you, you will get acne on your chin like my daughter. And that’s very bad”.
Move your body
Jenny says, “Regular movement is very important for your body. Everyone needs to do light exercise three to five days a week”. Her personal workout routine includes doing various exercises in the living room with ankle weights and a jump rope, while watching her latest Chinese soap opera on TV.
“Very important—do not lie in bed all day. You’ll become hunchback. And when you’re old, you’ll regret it. Especially don’t be like my daughter, who’s favourite activity is to 躺蓍 (lie in bed all day like a corpse). This is not good habit”.
Maintain a pleasant mood
Jenny recommends, “To have a good mood, you need to spend time finding hobbies that make you happy”. For reference, Jenny likes to recharge by listening to old Chinese ballads from the eighties, gardening, and reading books on Chinese nutrition.
“You need to have a positive mindset. There’s a saying in Chinese that goes “办跏总蒻楑俍难“©” (there are more solutions than problems). No use being sad, you need to find solution to problem”.
Jenny also recommends cutting the toxic people out of your life for good feng shui. “Meet with positive friends. Stay away from complainers, pessimistic people, and anyone without ambition”.
Manage your stress
Jenny thinks “students should try to take it easy. But the reason why most of you are stressed is because you have bad time management. You need to make daily plan to use your time more wisely”.
She also very generously provided a lengthy TedTalk on how young people have it so much easier than back in her day, but this has been redacted.
Get plenty of rest
Jenny says, “The most important thing is to 蟤捙蟤漜 (waking early and going to bed early). Everyone should be asleep before 11pm, and sleep for at least eight hours. If you do this, you will not sleep through your alarms, or need to drink coffee all time to stop falling asleep at the dinner table”.
“No going on devices before bed. You’ll go blind. Read a book instead”.
Another absolute no-no according to Jenny is ‘鋡憡’, or pulling all-nighters. As she bluntly puts it, staying up is a one-way ticket to “early death”. Or worse, chronic dark undereye circles, which according to Jenny, has aged her daughter into a “sixty-year-old woman”.
“Stop being lazy and do the dishes, it is good for you”.
“Stop treating family home like hotel”.