Dieting Expects Cultural Reform

Dieting is no easy task, especially for many individuals who have demanding jobs, stressful family lives, and hobbies such as blogging and gaming. We usually never diet. It’s not that we couldn’t lose a couple of pounds here and there but dieting can become so restrictive and cumbersome when you’re transforming into a diet that you’re not used to. We were logging in calories on our Lose It! app, going to the gym regularly, changing up our usual diet entirely, and restricting our calories for two weeks before we realized that we couldn’t take it.

We’re not proponents of major diet changes because we know that it won’t stick. For example, telling an individual of Indian descent, who grew up on naan and spicy yogurt-based curries, to switch their diet to eat salmon and kale everyday is almost always said in vain. It’s hard switching up our cultural influences on food to adhere to another diet.  James enjoys using a liberal amount of thick soy sauce, oyster sauce, and fish sauce in his traditional Thai dishes, which unfortunately has a large amount of sodium. Trying out new dishes incorporating other sauces and flavors proved to be difficult for the both of us, and in the end we gave up.

Food is a part of our own individual culture, and removing a part of that becomes an even larger issue than weight. What nutritionists don’t acknowledge is how much of our lives are shaped by culture, and how food plays a large role of that culture.

So how can you remedy years of cultural eating into a diet?

  1. If you don’t like it, don’t eat it. Nothing’s worse than eating something you don’t like just because it has fewer calories. Not everyone loves kale, and that’s okay if you don’t. Not every family uses beets in their cultural cooking, so don’t feel the need to incorporate it.
  2. Don’t get rid of your favorite dishes, just portion control. If you can’t stop eating chocolate, like Elizabeth, just eat less of it. For example, Elizabeth bought a bag fun-sized M&Ms and would eat a small pack after dinner to get her fair share of sugar instead of eating a pint of ice cream.
  3. Make small adjustments to your cooking rather than larger ones.  Use Mrs. Dash brand for seasoning. Low-fat or fat-free yogurts for yogurt based curries. Lower sodium soy sauces for stir-fry. Olive oil or coconut oil instead of vegetable oil for cooking.
  4. Have families join in on the fun. Nothing’s better than having a support system for any new journey in your life. Especially with diet, family members can hold each other accountable for making the right strides for a healthier diet.
  5. Don’t count calories. Yes, losing weight means calorie restriction is a large part in doing so. When you start calorie counting it can be tedious and often a day of over-eating may lead to calling that day a “cheat day” and be a cause of over eating. Instead, just pay attention to what you are eating.
  6. Make it fun! Switching to a healthier diet can be rewarding and fun, in addition to keeping your culture intact. Find new recipes to make your favorite dishes that incorporates healthier ingredients. James actually found a recipe incorporating less oyster and fish sauce in one of his favorite basil chicken Thai dishes and it tastes exactly the same!


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