One of our community dietitians, Jessica Mhesuria, is the face of a new resource, Your Healthy Kitchen, which seeks to help south Asian families in particular lower their risk of diabetes.
Your Healthy Kitchen is a local campaign developed by the clinical commissioning groups for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. It comprises a series of short videos with an accompanying recipe booklet, and shows families how to cook traditional south Asian meals such as curries, chevdo and chapatis with a healthy twist, and without compromising on flavour. There are plans to expand the Healthy Kitchen approach to other world cuisines in the future.
Some of the simple changes Jessica demonstrates in the videos include swapping butter or ghee for healthier oil, using lemon to add taste instead of salt, and using wholemeal instead of white flour. The core message is that people can still eat their staple foods and the dishes they enjoy, just prepared in a much healthier way.
People from south Asian backgrounds are six times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than the population in general. Sometimes this is due to genetic differences in how their bodies respond to some
foods, but can also be affected by cultural eating habits – unhealthy ingredients such as ghee, sugar and salt are used in most traditional south Asian recipes, which means families have a very high risk of developing diabetes.
Jessica said: “Change doesn’t have to mean not eating the things you enjoy, just making them a little healthier. Our videos are packed with simple recipe tips! There are many festivals, family and community gatherings in the south Asian community, and cooking for each other is an act of love. Why not show people how much you care by making simple tweaks to the food you prepare – by cooking in a healthier way you are helping them to live a healthier and longer life.”
Professor Azhar Farooqi, chair of Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group and lead for diabetes, said: “Diabetes is one of the biggest health issues in the country at the moment, the rates are going up in all communities, including the south Asian community, which is particularly at risk. However, we can all can take small steps to eat a little healthier and move a little more so we look after ourselves better.”
The recipe booklet and an information leaflet are available in GP practices, pharmacies, libraries and community centres across Leicester, and if local people would like to receive copies for their community group, they can contact Leicester City CCG by calling 0116 295 0750 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.