Am I setting myself up for bad health?

According to my husband, I don’t take care of myself. Sure I eat a healthy vegetarian diet, run 3 times a week, don’t smoke or drink, limit myself to one coffee per day, only drink decaff tea and take extra care when I cross the road. But apparently that’s not enough.

Because there are some things I do which are truly RECKLESS according to my husband.

Sometimes, when I get up in the night to tend to our crying baby, I don’t put my slippers on. And sometimes when I get home from work, I don’t put my slippers on. And at other times when I ought to know better, I forget to put my slippers on. So reckless.

Not only that, but also sometimes, when the weather is getting hot and I’m feeling thirsty, I go and buy a mango 冰沙 ice slush drink (or passion fruit if I can find it). Sometimes, at Starbucks I get a frappucino instead of a hot coffee. And sometimes, I put ice cubes in my drink at home! So so reckless.

Another crazy thing I do, and have done for many years now, I sleep on my front!!!

To my weird and wonderful husband, and seemingly many who have grown up in China, these simple things are sure to lead to health problems in the future. I feel like people in China live under threat of future health problems if they don’t listen to these rules and take measures to protect themselves.

As a man, my husband is particularly careful about his lower back getting exposed to cold air or wind, as this could compromise his kidneys (which as a man, are more important to him…). But I think for women, such rules are even more important. During that time of the month, they are warned to be careful about putting anything cold into their body, like cold water or ice cream. And of course during the period after giving birth, they must be very careful about what they eat and drink, and mustn’t go outside for fear of being exposed to the elements, otherwise known as 坐月子 sitting the month or postpartum confinement.

There are certain Chinese customs which have become part of my lifestyle, but Chinese traditional health principles really don’t seem to make a lot of sense to me. In my childhood world of carpeted rooms, floors were not cold and slippers were not compulsory. Ice cream was not a daily staple but was fine for a treat, whatever time of the month. And no one has ever commented on my sleeping orientation… In Chinese culture, wisdom still passes from generation to generation, much more so than the West because of Confucian principles about respecting elders. And in times gone by there may have been reasons for certain practices. Drinking cold (unboiled) water may have meant it wasn’t clean, washing in cold water after childbirth may have risked infection, getting cold feet could have risked exposure.

But I’m not sure these customs are still relevant today. The consequences of these reckless actions are often vague. I’ve heard threats of damage to bones, pain and a troublesome menopause. But my western-mind needs scientific facts to back up these claims. And my poor husband may have to watch me risk my health for decades to come…

( I will never forget my Korean ex-boyfriend telling me that he truly believed he’d die if he slept with a fan blowing on him, until he moved to the UK. Even more extreme than view held in China! )

22 thoughts on “Am I setting myself up for bad health?

  1. So according to Chinese customs I am also living an extra dangerous life. No slippers, 4°C cold tap water to drink and sleeping on front ever since I can remember. I also already had the slippers and cold water discussion with my in-laws, but gladly they haven’t seen me sleep so far.
    They also like to mention that it is unhealthy that I don’t eat breakfast regularly and sometimes only eat a cup of yoghurt for dinner lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh yeah, each time we go to China we are told how bad our health will be due to what we wear, eat and so on.
    Especially our son is in constant danger because he will freeze to death with only shorts and t-shirt on at +30 degrees Celsius (all kids here wear long pants, at least two long sleeve shirts and in extreme cases even a winter hat)…


  3. My boyfriend is from Hong Kong, and when I told him I wanted to go get ice cream during that time of the month, I got a VERY puzzled look. He told me it’s not good to have cold things and that it would probably make me feel worse. He was shocked when I told him I have never been told that here in the U.S.. I suppose the ideas on health are just different but I don’t think I could ever follow some of those rules haha


  4. I’m living a dangerous life as well, all those ice cold drinks no matter Summer or Winter! I also used a fan during zuoyuezi and even went outside. I recently heard that women have painful periods if their feet are cold as a baby.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes! How do you dare touch or drink cold things! Those things will surely kill you! Hey, come with us and get wasted on baijiu twice a week, and smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, even when children are in the same room!


  6. Love hearing your exciting stories from China Sarah! I don’t normally comment but feel I have to say that sleeping on your front is supposed to be terrible for your back in the long term. I used to work with an osteopath who said he always recommends people sleep on their back because sleeping on your front is bad for your spine. Also, a guy I used to study with had a debilitating back condition that left him bedridden for months (everyone thought it was going to be permanent), and when I asked him what caused it he said he’d slept on his stomach since he was a child. The ‘wisdom’ about slippers and cold drinks doesn’t make much sense but it might be worth training yourself to sleep on your back in future….


    • Thanks for commenting 🙂
      That’s interesting to read. I switched to sleeping on my back and side during pregnancy and for a while afterwards and it was uncomfortable, so I guess I’ve tried. If I have another pregnancy in the future I’ll try again and maybe try and keep it up!


  7. I too am living a dangerous life, but my Japanese husband is also living dangerously because he will buy iced coffee even in the midst of a winter snowstorm… It’s interesting to learn about such health concerns from other countries, because as you said they most likely had a basis in the reality of life in times past. I wish both you and your husband good health!


  8. Different culture! I’ve been experienced more crazier ones. But actually they are not crazy, sometimes.


  9. I absolutely laughed out loud reading this! My Chinese mom used to take my water bottle out of the fridge whenever I said I had a stomach ache because she was scared I’d died haha. Great stuff!


  10. Pingback: 2017 Blogs by Western Women Who Love Chinese Men | Speaking of China

  11. These crazy myths about coldness being detrimental to health, firmly believed by my immigrant mother just drove me nuts. When we were kids mother would force us to drink a dark and bitter awful herbal brew to counteract the “hotness” that we had accumulated from eating some beef during the week. God forbid, a spice like pepper was just not allowed in our household because its super “hotness”. Equally annoying are the superstitions that the Chinese believe in. A least now, I don’t have to face these problematic beliefs from my western wife.


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