Indian Culture, Living style, and Diet
While it is said that most Indians are vegetarian, only 42% Indians are vegetarian. Indians are switching to meat, thinking it is trendy and healthy. That is not true at all. India is also a colorful place when it comes to holidays and foods. People will have dishes such as curry, idli and sambar, and lassi. Food in India is diverse and flavorful, just like the country itself. The ingredients in Indian food burst with flavors from various spices, choice of vegetables, legumes, lentils and grains.
Traditional Indian Cooking
In traditional Indian cooking, ghee is used quite frequently. Along with ghee, processed oil is used such as vegetable, olive and canola. Even though Indian food is very healthy with the choice of its ingredients, the ghee, the oils, and even the style of cooking change the nutritional value of the food. In India, people misuse the word ‘little’ when it comes to cooking. They say that ‘little’ or ‘thoda sa’ won’t do any harm but little can mean many different things. Little to someone could be a teaspoon while little to someone else could be a tablespoon. We don’t realize how much oil and ghee we use until something happens to us. I always tell my husband, “To follow any diet, you have to love yourself”. So when cooking Indian food, try to use a different base like water or vegetable broth.
My Family: Bansal and Jain Family History
Me and husband come from very different families in form of religious belief, culture and cuisine as well. Our family history is very different and very similar at the same time. My family follows the ‘Jain’ culture, which traditionally are completely vegetarian and some of them won’t eat eggs, onions, etc. On my husband’s side, who are traditional ‘hindu’ and ‘punjabi’, the families are prone to enjoying a mix of vegetarian and meat dishes like chicken, lamb, seafood, etc. The biggest similarity is unhealthy cooking. Oil and ghee are used a lot in our family’s kitchen. My dad passed away in 2013 from heart failure, kidney failure, and high blood pressure. My father-in-law is diabetic and also has heart condition. Both side of our families are an inspiration to keep fighting the traditional cooking and becoming healthier.
Me and husband met in high-school in 1994 and decided to get married in 2001. My husband at the time of our marriage was 375 lbs. and not leading a healthy lifestyle. Due to some medical conditions at the time, he was warned by the doctor to control his weight and lifestyle before it progresses into other conditions. My husband and I worked together and followed traditional diets of no carbs with exercise and he dropped about 80lbs and came down to 300 lbs.
We could not continue the diet due to job and moving to a different city. After our daughter was born in 2006, we got our second wake-up call and decided to get back on the diet that we followed before. My husband wanted to be fit enough to keep with our children’s energy. He dropped another 80 lbs. with diet and exercise. In both instances, we could not sustain the weight loss as we treated it as a diet and not as a life style.
In December 2017, we both switched to whole food plant based(wfpb) diet. Our diet was inspired by Forks Over Knives(www.forksoverknives.com). They are a team of doctors who study the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise. Though we have a gym in the house(Treadmill, Elliptical, Rower and Weights), we clearly were not doing a full body workout to supplement the diet. We heard of Orange Theory Fitness opening a studio close to us and decided to join it. We try to go twice a week to Orange Theory which is a great choreographed workout and is different in every class.
We really like the results from our lifestyle change. One of the challenges presented to me was how can I cook Indian Food in a whole food plant based. With multiple experiments on my family, I have started cooking much healthier version of Indian Food. Even my mother was surprised during her latest visit that it is possible to cook without oil and ghee and get the same great taste. My goal is to inspire other Indians and people who love Indian Food to taste the same Indian Food but cooked differently. I also had to replace other ingredients and tools from my kitchen which I have shared on another section of this site.
I also look forward to changing one life at a time to cook and live healthy, like we did.
Join us in being happier and healthier.