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Healthy Ways To Eat Your Cultural Food

Congratulations! Mrs ...... is 102 today ! How many times when we look at our home countries do we see these headlines? Why do you think that is? We can tell you it ain't because their calorie counting or calorie capped.

Ladies, so often I have had conversations with my girls and the first thing they want to do is get rid of their home dishes when it's time to lose weight or cut down. Numerous times I have had to counter with the ages of our ancestors who live in our home countries and highlight the fact that these women weren't removing the carbs from their diets. However, they also were not surrounded by the many temptations that we have such as the birthday cakes left in the kitchen at work, or the chicken shop on the way home, where you just have to stop for those 4 wings... lol, I know it's not just me. So how do we come to that middle ground, where we can still enjoy our comfort foods, which afford us great winter fuel (as well as vital immune boosting nutrients (see Grandma's Garden) whilst ridding ourselves of the fat from our backs?

  1. Adapting meals - You can lower your fat by using the spray oil alternatives instead of the actual oil or draining off the fat from the dish before you tuck in. There's also ways of enjoying your meal with smaller changes i.e. when making dumplings for soup make less or make them smaller and using less packet soup or replacing with a stock cube. An observation I have made when I go to Bim is that a lot of times, they will have hard food OR rice OR pasta they generally don't have all three. This was made clear to me one Christmas when we were in Barbados and had made a grand meal, ate a small portion before heading out. Upon our return we saw that a good portion of our sides were missing, the roasted carbs (potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam) and rice, were minuscule if they were there at all. This was because we had made macaroni cheese (which they call pie) and is seen as a main side dish and as such they didn't think we'd want anymore of the rice and potatoes. So adapting your meal to have your meat choice with only one carb and plenty of veg could also be of benefit to you.

  2. Adapting the quantities - Portion control and plate size are super important when it comes to cutting down. Many of us have been raised psychologically to empty our plates and the larger the plate the more you have to eat. Using a side plate or even a bowl could really show you how much you could eat and be full. I have also heard that eating with a spoon makes you fuller faster as you tend to get more on a spoon and as such get filled up faster. The other way we can be conscious of the utensils we use is when serving our food. A radio DJ that I love, talked about using tablespoons to portion his meals instead of the serving spoon, he'd restrict himself to just 5 tablespoons of rice and 2 tablespoons of mac and cheese but have 10 tablespoons of veg, yes it takes discipline, but if you use something to measure the benefits then it wont take long to get through the 66 days it takes for a habit to become automatic. Another thing that could keep you on track is to freeze extras as ready meals so it makes it convenient for you. Often times I'll go to my mum's and she'll happily ask me if I want a bolognese or a curry with cabbage and rice and have it ready in less than 10 minutes. This is because she'll cook a whole meal like she's feeding the 5000 (as she puts it) and then just portions it out into containers and freezes it.

  3. Adapting the times you eat- This can actually be more important than calories and portion size, generally when you begin to structure your eating times the other things automatically follow suit. Stopping and starting your meals at specific times allows your body to naturally fast and thus regulate the other digestive processes in your body. There's also the recognition of fitting your eating to your lifestyle. If you know that of an evening time, you're likely to go home and veg out in front of the tv before you go to bed then maybe you should eat bigger at lunch and perhaps get off the bus a stop earlier to fit in a little walk, then eat a small dinner. There is a quote that says "Eat like a king for breakfast, a prince at lunch and a pauper at dinner". Give it a try for a week, and see how it works for you.

  4. Where or who you eat with - There's so much psychology involved with eating, did you know that we eat with our eyes? Food can invoke so many thoughts and feelings and regularly, good or bad, eating can bring back memories. Often times if we eat together as a family you feel fuller not just because you've sat and eaten at a good pace with a good portion of food but you are also emotionally filled because you've heard about what's going on with your loved ones day/life. One of the key words in there is sitting down, so often - mums particularly - eat standing up and we do this for a few reasons; one, because we don't want to be attacked for our plate or have people climbing over us whilst we eat and two, because for some reason as soon as you sit down that's the minute someone realises they want something, they say I need a drink, or pass the ketchup! However this is not good for you, despite our best intentions the food is poorly digested, we rarely get any enjoyment from what we've eaten and therefore we are more likely to snack or overeat. Another key word is loved ones. Girl eating with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable or doesn't support the way you eat, does not lend itself to an enjoyable eating experience. When you find yourself in a place where you try not to eat in front of, or around a particular person or people, you are more likely to make unhealthy choices whether it's because you stuff yourself with a load of rubbish or because you then go on to eat nothing for days and either way its not good. Ladies, the thought process behind eating can be just as important as the eating itself.

Photo by Greta Hoffman from Pexels

Photo by PNW Production from Pexels

One size does not fit all and that applies to your plate too. Additionally we are not the experts or the oracles on this so please share with us your wins and successes whilst keeping your home dishes within your diet.

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