Assyrian food, oh how lovely and delicious. Oh and very oily too! This is the sad fact about some major Assyrian foods; tastes great, but is not healthy enough. And for decades now, no efforts have been made to change this and make it more modern, and to go with the latest trends of weight loss, Atkins Diet, Low_Carb etc. As a concerned Assyrian., I think it is time we launched a total new revamp of our food menu and its composition, or risk losing a lot of our people to health related diseases, especially heart centered ones.
So how fatty and unhealthy is Assyrian food, compared to other foods from other cultures? While other cultures foods are not as healthy either, Assyrian foods ranks top in many categories. For example, Pacha ( a very popular Assyrian food) has so much fat to the point where a lot of Assyrian families do it only twice per year (Christmas and Easter) Rise make up a big part of Pacha, much like most of the other Assyrian foods, including Dolma, Riza w Shorba, Sejoqe, Kefte and much more. Rise, as we know it, is not too healthy, especially when white instead of brown rise is used. Assyrians seem to forget and sometimes ignore this basic nutrition rule, and still use white rise excessively. Worse yet, we tend to serve our dinner sometimes past 9 or 10 p.m, and with rise, white bread and other unhealthy items. All of which contribute to not-so-great-looking bodies, and an increased risk of heart diseases.
So as we see, it is not only our food, but our eating habits as well. We usually take our food for granted, and forget about its investment for our bodies, its goods and harms etc. For generations, aided by the fact that we come from the Middle East, Assyrians have paid little attention to healthy choices in their eating. For example, Qalya is one very popular food for Assyrians. This extremely delicious food, which looks like stake, is almost half-fat, while the other half is meat; lamb meat. Although, Qalya has not been that popular on the Assyrian menu lately, especially after migrating to the West, it still remains a hot food item back home in the Middle East, mainly in Iraq. But imagine eating this, on a full plate of rise, with bread on the side after 10, or even 11 p.m! This is not just a recipe for disaster, but something that was very common back then, and probably till now. Not surprising that a lot of our people die to heart attacks; caused by the fat from these foods which clogs our arteries, eventually causing our hearts to just stop and give up!
Having said all this, we should also look at the positive side; Assyrians still have their own healthy choices; some being very popular food dishes for Assyrians. Vegetables, of course, make up a big portion of these healthy foods, as opposed to fat stuff. But of course, more should be done than just relying on healthy food choices. What is required is a new, official or unofficial, campaign to raise awareness about our eating habits and choices. Funny thing is, unhealthy food choices not only effect our health, but our looks too. And that is having some bad effects on our society at times. How many times have we seen newly wed Assyrian wives and husbands, expressing displeasure with their spouse’s look and increasing weight, especially after marriage? Quiet a lot! In fact, lately, there has been many divorce cases caused by someone’s dissatisfaction with their partner’s worsening body image, including a big belly, big hips, or even the commonly cited, big….. It is time Assyrians took care of their bodies, and the time is now. It starts with the food we eat!