The Indian’s Dilemma

In General Posts on August 28, 2009 by Suhaila

Paleo and Sri Lankan food totally don’t mix. I foresee a lot of trouble sticking to the diet on weekends (although I try my best) when I visit my parents (I don’t usually eat Sri Lankan food during the week). I know at least four people with the same problem, who can’t seem to eat paleo at all. This is why. The following are a list of major foods that my family traditionally eats daily with various curries (the majority of which are paleo, but eating curry without any of the following is just unheard of):

Dosai (crepes made from fermented batter of rice and black gram)
Idli (steamed rice cakes, similar batter to dosai)
String hoppers (rice noodles made out of steamed rice cakes)
Upma (kind of like couscous; made from wheat/semolina, onion, green chillies, and some spices)
Puttu (steamed rice powder)
Kothu roti (literally “chopped roti”; it’s curry mixed with chopped pieces of roti)
White/brown steamed rice

It’s hard enough to stay away from the mangoes, but the above foods make up the staples of every single meal… I don’t even like these foods and I have a hard time giving them up, simply because they’re so deeply ingrained in the culture. I’m sure it’s very similar for other South-east Indian cultures.

If you come from the Indian subcontinent and manage to eat Paleo, how do you do it (presumably without giving up all traditional foods)?

3 Responses to “The Indian’s Dilemma”

  1. I KNOW the feeling – Pakistani food doesn’t go well with any of the diets prescribed for top athletic performance.

    All those chapatis, paratas, lots of spice…

    The concept of large amounts of fruit and veg, goodly sized serving of protein based food, and rice/bread as a CONDIMENT is just alien and scary…

    Oh well, keep fighting the good fight 🙂

  2. I think the reason this is the way it is, is because in the south asian countries, meat is more expensive. Hence the bread, rice etc help you to get full but still have meat, because filling up on meat/chicken etc alone is more expensive.

    I think that is also why beans etc is called a third world diet by robb wolff. That if that is what you need to survive ok, but if you can afford meat no.

    So anyhow this must have gone into our cultures, even if you aren’t living on a low income in a non mass producing country.

    spice is fine, and so are fruits and veggies (with just some exceptions if you are following paleo/zone)

    I dont follow stricly, but when I try, and I am at someone else’s home.. if I feel they have a lot of meat, I just say I have some issues with wheat/rice digestion haha but if where the meat is not enough for everyone, then I will eat some wheat or just have less meat.

  3. Thanks for your responses guys 🙂

    That’s what I thought happened as well (re: the meat being expensive and grains being filling). I know in my family, I grew up eating bread WITH rice, which no Pakistani or Indian I know has ever heard of, haha. I mean, instead of always bread with curry or rice with curry, we occasionally have bread with rice with curry (usually when there’s only a little curry).

    I’m trying to get my family to at least switch to whole wheat or quinoa, which they’re slowly starting to do. But even though they agree that grains may not be the most healthy thing to eat, that’s all they’ve ever known, and it’s hard to know what to cook without it.

    I’m totally going to try this “wheat/rice digestion issues” excuse hahaha. I don’t eat out at people’s homes that often (maybe once a week), so I figure if they don’t have any other options for me, I’ll just use that as a cheat meal and not cause tension between friends. But eating at home is different and I’m really struggling to find alternatives without having to abandon South Indian food completely.

    (Then again, there is probably a reason that so many South Indians are diabetic. If only we knew what we used to eat on the Indian subcontinent long ago… Is there a food history major in the house? :P)

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