Honestly when I first noticed Why the Chinese don't count calories a new book by Lorraine Clissold (actually her first), I could not help but think of it as a Chinese riff on Why French women don't get fat.
Sophie Morris (The Independent) offers her take on the ideas explored in the book and has 2 nutritionists, Patrick Holford and Ian Marber 'The Food Doctor' fact check the claims it makes.
Her title Use your noodle: The real Chinese diet is so healthy it could solve the West's obesity crisis would have made for a more catchy title.
One part where it seems there is broad agreement is that it should all start with soup.
Here's Sophie Morris paragraph on the topic:
Soup, or a soup-based dish, is present at every Chinese meal, often in the form of a watery porridge, zhou. Western diets can be very dry, and nutritionists compensate by urging us to drink more water, which the Chinese would never do with a meal. Instead, they make a nourishing liquid food part of the meal. And it's a great way of using up leftovers.
Holford says: "Thirst is often confused with hunger. Also, drinking does tend to fill you up. So soups help you control your appetite."
Marber says: "I'm a great believer in soups before food. Miso soup, for instance, or anything fermented – these are probiotics, which help release nutrients from the food you are about to eat."
Another point of convergence is vegetables which should be half your meal.
As for the other suggestions in the book, I will let you judge.
I tend to view absolute statements on any topic with suspicion, maybe it's the St Thomas in me.
'Why the Chinese Don't Count Calories' (15 Secrets from a 3,000 Year-Old Food Culture) will be available in the US and Canada via Skyhorse Publishing in August 2008. It was first published in the UK (June 2008) by Constable & Robinson.
The UK Cover is my illustration.
On food fads and health: Is Raw Veganism Dangerous for your Kids?