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Are you eating too much meat? By Fareeha Jay, Specialist Diabetes Dietitian

Among South Asians, particularly the Pakistani community, eating meat – especially red meat – is extremely popular. Karahi gosht, lamb curry, shab daig, lahori mutton, aloo gosht, nihari are only just a few examples. Even vegetable dishes include meat, such as karelay gosht (bitter gourd and meat), bhindi gosht (okra and meat) and lauki gosht (gourd and meat). Mince is cooked in many ways like shami kebab, chupli kebab, seekh kebab, aloo qeema (mince and potatoes) and shimla mirch qeema (mince and peppers). Most families will include a meat dish in both their meals every day. My family and I love karahi gosht, and I’m sure you do too! 

There is also a growing culture of eating processed meat, such as kebabs, sausages, and breaded products on a regular basis. Increased intake of these foods is associated with colon and some other cancers. They are also high in saturated fat and eating too much saturated fat can raise your ‘bad’ cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

So, what to do? Should we stop eating red meat?

If you enjoy eating red meat you don’t need to completely stop eating it, as it’s also a source of protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins, but we do need to think about how much and how often we are eating it. Here are some tips to help do this:

  • Don’t eat more than 60 -90 g of meat a day (cooked). 
  • If you currently eat a lot of red meat, gradually cut down to no more than 1-2 a week.
  • Limit processed meat as much as possible. 
  • Try swapping red meat to lean meats such as chicken and fish. The portion size remains the same. 

 

What counts as a portion of meat?

As an approximate measure, a portion of meat is roughly the size of the palm of your hand. This is equivalent to around 60-90 g.

Ways to reduce meat

  • Include beans and lentils 3-4 days a week in your meals. Try to keep those meals completely meat-free. You can include a variety such as chana daal, mash daal, mong daal, masoor daal, haleem, rajma or chana masala.  
  • Rather than cooking meat on its own try adding lentils and beans. For example, chana gosht, daal gosht.
  • Make sure you are having half a plate of vegetables with your meat dish. This helps you feel full when you reduce your meat portions. 
  • Though there seems to be resistance towards eating tofu and tempeh, why not look up a recipe and give it a go! It’s a great plant-based source or proten. planetnourish.com has some great recipes to try.

Healthier Cooking Methods:

  • Try to remove the visible fat off meat before cooking.
  • Ghee is saturated fat and intake should be limited. Try cooking your meat in any vegetable oil or in its own fat. 
  • Cooking meat in South Asian cuisine is usually in the form of masala, salun or curry unless it’s a barbecue. Therefore, try to reduce oil in your cooking. If you are using 8 tablespoons, why not aim to cook in 6 tablespoons and slowly decrease your oil intake. 
  • After cooking, skim off any fat you can see on the surface of the dish.

Meat Swaps 

Lunch /Dinner 

Swap  

Tips

Aloo Qeema (lamb/beef/chicken mince with potatoes) 

  • Add peas, green pepper, and carrots to Aloo Qeema 
  • Cook in vegetable oil and gradually reduce the amount you use
  • Try soya mince instead 
  • Whilst cooking, reduce the amount of mince and bulk up the meal with vegetables. 


Lunch /Dinner 

 

Swap 

 

Tips

Karahi Gosht 

  • Reducing the portion of karahi gosht and including a serving of daal and a portion of vegetable curry. 
  • Cook in vegetable oil and gradually reduce the amount you use
  • Chana daal goes well with meat. 
  • Kaddu (gourd) goes well with chana daal (no meat)

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