We have such a strong connection with food across most cultures, but unfortunately this intense connection isn’t just for positive feelings, memories and actions. Food can become a weapon and detrimental when used as a means of control or escape. Coming from a culture that does not like to answer the difficult questions and sweeps a lot of issues under the rug, distractions like food and other addictions become a means of comfort for a lot of us.
When it comes to the health issues in the South Asian community, there are cultural aspects and socioeconomic issues the community faces (or faced and still can’t shake off the resulting habits) that are highly likely to propagate these diseases. For example, stress around immigration, adjusting to a new environment, social and family pressures, financial issues, language barriers, finding comfort in food and other addictions (smoking is a prevalent habit in South Asians), excessive grazing at events to bond with others in the community (those samosas and pakoras and mithai!), refusing food from others seen as disrespect, casual body shaming, wanting to save food and undereating, not wanting to waste food and then overeating, and many other problems contribute to diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
Even after being financially stable and knowing how I should be taking care of my body, these habits around food have been extremely hard to overcome as it’s the message I’ve been receiving from childhood.
Honor and shame is a common theme in a lot of cultures and doing anything out of the ‘norm’ can receive a lot of backlash, diet and lifestyle choices included. I realize how silly this is now but overcoming and not caring about criticism is very difficult. In the Pakistani culture especially, I found that being vegetarian or vegan is looked down on as eating meat is associated with affluence, strength, machismo and possible cultural pride.
As well as having these issues around food from my culture, my God, it was even more intense going through this world as a woman! We’re bombarded with images and information that we need to look a certain way (which can change, just like clothing!) and it makes me so mad at entire industries that benefit off the insecurities of people. I have severe body image issues and it’s taken me a long time, awareness and understanding to see my body as a vessel that allows me to experience this life. And of course I want to keep it functioning and healthy because there is so much I want to live for and give to the world.
I started healing my relationship with food and therefore my life (they are completely interconnected!) after reading The Goddess Revolution by Mel Wells. That book pretty much started this whole journey for me and I highly recommend it for anyone struggling with body image and their relationship with food.
And so Sabzi Khor is a way for me to create and eat the foods that I want and just have fun and freedom in the kitchen. I can assure you, it's liberating. You’d think by sharing my recipes I want you to eat like me, but no! I want to spread the message of being aware and mindful of your body and what you’re putting in it. You know what’s best for you and it's so important to be aware of these cultural issues, where we’ve gone wrong and how we can overcome them to live happier and healthier. I want to remove the stigma and shame and all the horrible messages we've received about food. I want to represent a joyful, free way of eating and inspire others to do the same. Less shame, stigma and control, more intuition, mindfulness and freedom.