A resource for anyone who enjoys traditional foods of African, Central and South Asian, and Middle Eastern origin.
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Lines open Mon-Fri 10am-3pm
Punjabi, Urdu & Hindi spoken on Tuesdays
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Losing weight - helpful hints for South Asian diets
Traditional South Asian foods based on lentils, pulses, fresh vegetables, wholemeal chapattis and basmati rice can be very healthy. But adding too much fat, sugar and salt can make your food less healthy.
Vegetarian diets are not necessarily lower in calories than diets that contain meat. Vegetarians still need to be careful about the portion sizes, and the amount of fat and sugar in their diet.
Try our practical tips
- Avoid eating whilst doing other things such as watching TV. Try to make eating a separate activity. It might help to eat only in the kitchen or dining room.
- Get into the habit of eating regular meals, and keep to your schedule.
- Never miss meals. Missing meals slows your metabolic rate, and makes it harder for you to lose weight.
- Picture your plate in quarters. Two parts to be filled with vegetables or salad, one part for dhal, beans, chicken, fish or lean meat and the last quarter for starchy foods like chapatti, pitta bread,rice,noodles, pasta, potatoes or bread
- Eat plenty of salads and aim to eat at least five portions of vegetables and fruit everyday.
- When making vegetable curries use oil sparingly and use less potatoes and more of the vegetables
- Include starchy foods like chapatti and rice with each meal. But you may need to reduce the amount you currently eat to help lose weight. Whole grain varieties are more filling than the white versions
Limit foods that are high in fat and sugar
- Replace saturated fats such as ghee and butter with small amounts of healthier fats such as pure vegetable oil (rapeseed), olive oil, sunflower oil, corn oil and healthy low fat spreads.
- Invest in a good quality non-stick frying pan and use to make your ”turka" or "vagar". Measure any oil you re adding with a spoon instead of pouring it straight from the container. Use an oil and water spray. You'll use just a fraction of the normal amount of oil. Add water or lemon juice if onions stick to the bottom of your pan.
- Avoid adding ghee or oil to your chapatti dough and also spreading fat on cooked chapattis
- Remove the skin from poultry and trim any visible fat from meat before cooking.
- Brown meat in a non-stick pan, drain excess fat and the add the ”turka" if necessary.
- Red meat such as lamb, beef, mutton and goat meat can be high in fat , particularly saturated fat, so use lean cuts only
- Skim off any oil that settles on top of a cooked curry
- Choose lower fat dairy products such as skimmed, 1% or semi skimmed milk and low fat yoghurts instead of the full fat versions.
- You can still make your own yoghurt using semi skimmed milk. For a creamier taste add a tablespoon of dried skimmed milk powder to every pint of milk.
- Go easy on the cheese. Look for lower fat versions. Grating hard cheese makes it go further.
- Cakes, biscuits, pizzas, samosas, pakoras and other fast foods are high in calories and can be high in unhealthy fats too so only eat them occasionally
- Limit or all types of mithai and savoury Indian snacks as these are also high in calories, sugar and fat.
- Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily. Often thirst can be mistaken for hunger.
- A glass of water before a meal may help reduce your appetite.
- Limit drinks high in sugar, especially fizzy and sugary drinks
- Although considered healthy, fruit juices and smoothies can be high in calories so drink in moderate amounts.
- Alcohol is high in calories and stimulates your appetite. Aim to cut down.
- Eat from a smaller plate to make your meals look bigger!
- Keep portions sizes modest - you should be able to walk away from a meal without feeling bloated