This post was inspired by the Pakistan Club’s Annual Fair I attended last week. The purpose of the fair is to introduce Pakistani culture – food, handicrafts and other merchandise – to the local community and raise funds for the club. That it does very well! The food stalls selling the most popular Pakistani foods were a reminder of the four most common evils of the Indo-Pak diet, what I’m calling the four fattening “Chs”:
- Chawal (pronounced as Chaa-wul, meaning rice): Most lunches and dinners are incomplete without rice, making it possibly the #1 cause of weight gain. What’s more, most of the rice consumed is white rice; mostly cooked in rice cookers thus leaving all the starch in. What’s worse is the biryani (fried rice) that is the preferred form of rice at all special occasions.
- Chapati (Che-paa-tee, meaning bread): Flat breads consumed over breakfast, lunch and dinner come in many forms. The only good one is the pan-baked bread made of brown wheat flour (roti). However, most of them are made of processed white flour (naan), and many are then pan-fried (paratha) or deep-fried (puri) making them even more fattening.
- Chicknai (chick-nai, meaning fat): Breakfast is fried eggs, with fried breads. Lunch and dinner are curries cooked in oil and often with fried rice. Plus the popular fried snacks in between – samosa, puri, fried rolls – making the diet extremely unhealthy and fattening.
- Chini (chee-nee, meaning sugar): Sugar is also a big part of the Indo-Pak diet. It’s common to take two teaspoons of sugar in tea and three in coffee, and have 2-4 cups a day. Carbonated drinks with lunch, dinner and snacks seem to have become more common, particularly with the younger generation. Then there’s the mithai (desserts) that’s often considered an essential part of any party. The popular deep fried jalebi and gulab jaman are probably the mothers of all evils that combine white carbs, sugar and oil.
Nobody needs scientific evidence that the above are unhealthy; we know that already. The question is how can we change something that’s such an integral part of our lifestyle? One possible answer is: one step at a time. Get rid of one Ch at a time. Think of making tiny, small, easy, simple changes, one at a time e.g.
- Replace white rice/bread with brown rice/bread or boiled rice. Limit rice/bread to just one of the meals. Reduce the portion of rice/bread.
- Use healthy oils like Olive or Canola if you must fry stuff. Avoid deep-fried stuff.
- Try dried fruits, nuts and fruits as snacks.
- Switch to brown sugar. Reduce sugar in your tea/coffee if you can’t completely remove it. Avoid carbonated drinks.
- Add some fruits to breakfast, some soup and salad to lunch, some baked or grilled fish to dinner.
And what about all the temptations? Make Sunday your Sin-day, and eat whatever you like, as much as you like. Since you are going to cheat anyway, it’s better to have a cheat day that you look forward to. The idea of quitting something just for the next six days is also a lot easier than quitting something forever. Then it’s only five days, then four, three, two and one. Bingo, you did it!
Luckily, the fair was on a Sin-day. So I was able to enjoy some of the chs without feeling too guilty.