Traditional Asian diets may have some health risks associated with diabetes. This is because our diets consist of high-glycemic index foods like white rice or noodles as our main source of carbohydrate. Carbohydrate (carb) is one of the three types of nutrients your body uses as energy. White rice contributes to approximately 30% of the energy in our diets.
Studies done in Japan and China have shown that high intake of food with high glycemic index doubled the risk for Type 2 Diabetes.
So how can you get your parents to eat less high-glycemic index carbs?
1. Make the healthier choice
Instead of cutting out carbs in your diet entirely, you can replace refined carbs with healthier carbs. The grains you choose to eat affect your risk of diabetes. Whole grains contain dietary fiber that is associated with decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, refined grains, such as white rice, are more likely to rapidly raise your blood glucose levels.
Examples of healthier carbohydrate include:
Brown and wild rice
Steel-cut or rolled oats
Whole wheat or rye berries
Whole-grain (not pearl) barley
White and sweet potatoes with skin
Boiled dry beans and pulses, such as lentils
So the next time you go grocery shopping with your parents, remember to choose products that still retain some of their nutrients. For example, you can opt for wholemeal bread instead of white bread and brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice!
2. One step at a time
For your parents who are used to eating refined grains, it might be hard for them to adapt to eating other grains as their main carb source. There are a few things you can do to slowly transition them into a healthier lifestyle.
First, you can choose only one healthier carb to swap with your refined carb. For example, if your family normally consumes white rice, try to swap out white rice with brown rice. You can still continue consuming other carbs like white bread, noodles, etc. After your family got accustom to brown rice, you can then repeat the same process with another carb source.
Another trick is gradually introducing the healthier carbs instead of swapping it in immediately. For example, if you are looking to swap out white rice with brown rice, you can start by cooking 1 portion of brown rice with 3 portions of white rice.
This way, the taste of the brown rice would be less strong and more acceptable to your parents. As they get used to the taste, you can then gradually increase the ratio of brown rice.
3. Make it a family tradition
Lastly, what you can do is to make eating healthy a family habit. When you go for your weekly grocery shopping together, or when you bring food back home, try to make a conscious effort to opt for healthier choices.
For example, for takeaways, you can go for healthier options like yong tau foo soup or thunder tea rice. Some mixed vegetable rice stall are offering brown rice option as well!
Encourage your family members to do the same because when it becomes a common goal for the family, it becomes much easier to continue with this habit. Don’t underestimate the effects of family pressure!
Often times, our parents are too fixed on their ways to initiate change themselves. Therefore, it is up to us to introduce this new way of life to them.
Let's embark on this journey together and convince our parents to eat right and live long!