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Community, Culture & Food- A South Asian Perspective Sudha Raj PhD RD Assistant Professor Department of Nutrition Science & Dietetics College of Human.

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Presentation on theme: "Community, Culture & Food- A South Asian Perspective Sudha Raj PhD RD Assistant Professor Department of Nutrition Science & Dietetics College of Human."— Presentation transcript:

1 Community, Culture & Food- A South Asian Perspective Sudha Raj PhD RD Assistant Professor Department of Nutrition Science & Dietetics College of Human Ecology Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York June 28, 2010

2 Objectives To present a brief overview of the demographic characteristics of the South Asian community To introduce selected cultural aspects such as food and health of the South Asian community Discuss the following of a vegetarian diet based on cultural, religious belief systems, and traditional practices of medicine such as Ayurveda. Discuss contemporary vegetarian dietary trends and their implications on health, nutrition and services for the growing South Asian community in the United States.

3 The South Asian sub-continent

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6 Focus on Indian sub-continent

7 Why the focus? Despite cultural diversity there are common elements Exponential growth in South Asian/Asian Indian population in the U.S. Regional, socio-economic, linguistic and religious diversity. The growing incidence of chronic degenerative diseases e.g. CVD, Diabetes, Metabolic syndrome The largest following of vegetarian dietary practices in the world

8 Regional diversity among Asian Indians –29 states and 6 union territories –Language, traditional customs, food habits –Four distinct regions-North, South. East and West

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10 Socio-economic diversity among Asian Indians Dichotomous socio- demographic profile –Before the 1980s –After the 1980s

11 Linguistic diversity among Asian Indians Every two miles the water doth change and every four the dialect »(Hindi proverb)

12 Religious diversity among Asian Indians Religious Diversity –Several religions practiced –Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Christianity (Syrian, Goan), Zorastrainism, Judaism

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14 Health concerns of Asian Indians

15 Leading causes of morbidity for all Asian Indians –Heart disease –Stroke –Diabetes –Hypertension –Hypertriglyceridemia –Physical inactivity –Osteoporosis –Reproductive issues –Cancer

16 Dietary practices of Asian Indians

17 Ahimsa/Non-violence Even the worm that crawls in the earth there glows a divine spark. When you slaughter a creature, you slaughter God –Charles Darwin

18 Purity and Pollution Importance given to –The quality of food –Purity and pollution –Concept of moderation

19 Ayurvedic approach Food selection for promoting health and happiness –Based on Ayurvedic principles Encourages variety for proper nourishment and harmony within the body Kapha or phlegm producing foods Vayu or gas producing foods Pitta or bile producing foods Hot-cold classification

20 Traditional beliefs and practices Diet in spiritual development Rajasic foods Tamasic foods Sattvic foods

21 Food and Rituals Feasts and Fasts Celebrations

22 Food practices based on religion

23 Dietary patterns based on religious diversity Hinduism - Prohibits beef consumption

24 Dietary patterns based on religious diversity Islam – Avoidance of pork, alcohol and requirements for animal slaughter Jainism – Vegetarian Sikhism – Avoidance of beef, alcohol Buddhism – Primarily lacto-ovo vegetarian

25 Dietary patterns based on religious diversity Christianity Syrian Christians- beef allowed Goan Christians- pork allowed Zorastrainism- Followers called Parsis Abstention from meat during death ceremonies

26 Traditional Asian Indian Vegetarian Diet Rich in complex carbohydrates and soluble fiber Whole grain cereals: rice, wheat, millet, maize Tuberous and starchy vegetables Protein sources Beans, lentils, peas, Cereal-lentil combinations

27 Vegetables Stir-fry, stews and mixed dishes, curry Chutney

28 Fruits

29 Dairy products

30 Spices, Seasonings, Condiments Distinctive seasonings –Masalas (wet or dry) –Curry powders –Pickles, relishes, chutneys Appetizers and snacks Beverages

31 The Indian spice box

32 Regional vegetarian dietary patterns (North)

33 Regional vegetarian dietary patterns (South)

34 Regional vegetarian dietary patterns (East and West)

35 Contemporary Asian Indian vegetarian diet in the U.S. Acculturative dietary patterns Based on gender and length of residence Strict Vegetarians- may transition to non-vegetarian diet (1-5 years) Eggs, chicken popular among transitioning vegetarians Least popular: egg substitutes, non-dairy creamer, non-fat milk, peanut butter,

36 Contemporary Asian Indian vegetarian diet in the U.S. Casual meal patterns Breakfast- most frequently skipped meal Snacking between one to three times a day Traditional foods for dinners and weekend Modified cooking techniques to suit variability in ingredients Increased availability of prepared versions of Indian canned and packaged foods, frozen traditional dinners

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38 Contemporary Asian Indian vegetarian diet in the U.S. Consumption of traditional Indian diet: low to moderate frequency Foods least sensitive to change: roots and tubers, legumes, vegetable oils, white bread and tea Decrease in Ghee intakes Traditional choices substituted and/or augmented with increases in cheese, fruit juice and whole wheat bread cola beverages, low-fat milk, pizza, mayo and cookies

39 Nutritional consequences –Study on 100 Asian Indian men and women (Raj, 2004) Religion, vegetarian practices influence food selection practices. Food avoidances common especially among women. Nutritional implications

40 Cultural considerations in everyday interactions Assess English language ability Contradictions and disagreements considered impolite Formality in address; politeness; avoidance of direct eye contact Naturally stoical, reserved, may be reluctant to discuss problems outside family Head shaking to denote yes Leisure, personal communication preferred Modesty and privacy very important Time is elastic

41 Specific considerations in health care counseling Seek to establish the clients: Religious affiliation; degree of adherence Region of origin; Length of residence in the U.S. Preferences for vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods and frequency of consumption of a vegetarian diet Adherence and practice of Ayurvedic medicine regarding diet and home remedies by way of traditional beliefs, and home remedies. Degree of dietary acculturation Reinforce plant based options, whole grain-lentil preparations

42 Specific considerations in health care counseling Increase awareness of : –Lower fat versions of foods e.g. dairy products –Desirable portion sizes e.g. servings of grains –Food preparation techniques that are detrimental to nutritional value e.g. cooking of vegetables –Importance of chemo-preventative effects of spices and spice combinations. –Negative effects of excessive calorie consumption –Daily Physical activity

43 Questions Thank you!


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