Thai Food: The Ugly Truth! (and how to maintain a healthy diet)

Posted on Posted in Health, Nutrition

The dangers of Thai Food

The common misconception.

'Thai food is so healthy, I'm going to lose weight so quickly!'

This was one of my major mistakes when moving to Bangkok. I had this vision of my shedding my weight whilst simultaneously chowing down on delicious, cheap healthy Thai Cuisine. Consequently, I was WRONG!

Newsflash....the majority of Thai food expats are eating in Bangkok is not healthy and if you are anything like me, you have gained weight here.  


thai food
Street Food at night

There is no doubt that Thai food is delicious and you probably never get enough of it. Yet, there is another side of the story, too. Whilst it can be mouthwateringly good, there is no guarantee that it will be healthy. At the same time, the combination of taste and healthy in people’s minds is a rarity.

Expats living in Bangkok (or in any area of Thailand) find it very difficult to find good and healthy food because they don’t know many places that serve healthy food. We just rely on whatever seems pleasing to the eye and the stomach. Grabbing a great meal for an extremely low price is so easy that we forget or just ignore that we don’t really know what is actually in our meal. Is it healthy or not? Deep down I think we know the answer.

If you are reading this you are probably a fellow expat that is health conscious or wants to be. Welcome to Are you a healthpat and want to know how Thai food is unhealthy and what you can do about it? Allow us to give you a short insight.


The dangers:

classic thai food

Excessive and reused oil:

Thai food is regularly cooked in excessive amounts of oil. Everyone who knows a little bit of Biology understands that excessive amount of oil in food is not good for human body. Apart from using the excess amount of oil, in addition, some vendors use reused oil for cooking. Reused oil can have serious consequences on health as it has triglyceride which is clearly a bad fat. Also, it can increase the risk of cancer in the longer term.


Low-Quality Sugar:

Thai people love adding sugar in their foods. Most of the time, the sugar used in the food is not of good quality. It can be High Fructose Corn Syrup or HFCP that is used in carbonated drinks. Also MSG, HGCP can also generate drowsiness and can introduce slowness in the body.


The culprit that causes bile-duct cancer

liver fluke
liver flukes can cause cancer!

One of the most serious diseases that cause 70 deaths a day (at an average) in Thailand is bile-duct cancer. Scientific research on such high rates of cancer points towards the accumulation of parasites (such as liver flukes) that live inside the popular Thai freshwater fish.

Such fish is used in preparing favoured Thai raw fish dishes like Plaa Som, Larb Plaa Dib and Som Tam Poo Plaa Ra. Because of this, it results in heavy infestations of Liver Fluke that leads to bile-duct cancer in the long run.

Try to opt for the cooked versions of these dishes if you can’t resist the temptation.





Although not all food in Thailand is unhealthy, care should be taken while selecting your food.

Many restaurants don’t use MSG and HFCP.  These restaurants are the real deal. Furthermore, if you happen to find some random restaurant down some random soi, just make sure that you ask them not to add any of the above-mentioned items.


What Thai food can't you live without? Any other points to add? Let us know in the comments below.

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