Too often, the South Asian diet is overloaded with calories and saturated fats. Because South Asians are at increased risk for heart disease, it’s important to make healthy eating a priority.
But this doesn’t mean you and your family have to give up your favorite foods. Here’s what you can do to achieve and maintain a heart-healthy diet at any age.
- Balance your meals. A balanced meal contains adequate protein, fat, carbohydrate, and plenty of fiber. Vary your food choices from day to day and emphasize plant foods. Colorful fruits and vegetables add interest and phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and fiber to the diet.
- Make meals a family tradition. Family meals help children to accept new foods, learn social skills and establish good structure. As a parent, during family meals you’ll model behaviors you want for your children—and you’re more likely to eat on a regular schedule yourself. Missed meals can lead to overeating, poor choices and difficulty listening to internal cues of hunger and fullness. Practice mindful eating.
- Eat regular, modest meals and small snacks. Timing meals and snacks can be challenging with today’s busy schedules. Aim for breakfast within 30 to 60 minutes of rising, and eat every two to three hours. If you or your kids have to go six or more hours without a meal, plan for small, nutritious snacks. Stop eating two to three hours prior to sleeping. Late evening meals (especially heavy dinners) can aggravate acid reflux, disrupt fasting blood sugar, contribute to obesity and depress morning appetite.
- Watch for unexpected and hidden calories. When planning meals, make sure to figure in extras such as eating out.
- Emphasize healthy carbohydrates.
- Eat lean protein.
- Limit fat, oil and salt.