Milk, cheese, and fast food. Though not considered traditional fare, research shows the adoption of Western dietary practices varies with the country of origin and higher acculturation levels of communities can lead to higher consumptions of Western foods and total amounts of fats consumed.
A study of Chinese Americans and Chinese Canadians from the Journal of the American Dietetic Association of women in Seattle and Vancouver shows 78 percent of the participating participants were found to have milk and cheese in their diets, 72 percent were found to eat between meals, and 56 percent were eating at fast food restaurants.
Korean immigrants were found to change more slowly, according to research on Korean Americans and acculturation published in the British Journal of Nutrition. Participants who were more acculturated had less Korean food and consumed more bread, cereal, spaghetti, pizza, sweets and drinks than those who were less acculturated. Greater acculturation was associated with more consumption of fats as a percent of total energy, though the total consumption is still less than the typical U.S. diet. Less acculturated Korean immigrants consumed significantly less fat, more fiber, and more salt than the more highly acculturated Koreans. In Asian American elderly, acculturation and assimilation of certain American lifestyles were shown to have less of an affect.
So what does this mean for your New Year resolutions to work out more, eat healthier and to have a fresh start and a better relationship with your health?
Linh Thai teaches Vovinam, a Vietnamese form of martial arts, to Seattle youth at Neighborhood House, and is the National Director for Vovinam. He says getting plenty of rest, drinking a lot of water, and living an active life style is key to Asian American community health. “Engage in a variety of activities to gets you out of the house,” Thai says. “Challenge your mind and body. Live a balanced life and be an example for others to follow.” Thai lives his daily life by his 100 philosophy. He is committed to doing 100 sit ups, running for 100 minutes, and giving 100 percent to his day.
So where can the average person start? Thai says Seattleites should not let the rain stop us from getting outdoors and taking a walk or run around the neighborhood. Thai often sees Al Sugiyama, the executive director for the Center for Career Alternatives, walk around Beacon Hill and says it’s an encouraging sight for other community members to follow. Walking is a good first step, says Thai.
Jean Dinh, an avid rock climber, a Doctor of Pharmacy student, and a researcher at the University of Washington, says she balances her school and work load with a regular workout routine by signing up for team sports. Team sports help her commit to others for practice and workouts, she also has a strategy for combating the gray and rainy weather.
“We still play soccer rain or shine,” Dinh says. “I also have a pull up board and do push ups at home.”
Dinh says going to your parent’s home for home-cooked meals are also a great way to stay healthy and she finds the vegetable content is a lot higher when she eats her family’s cooking than what she finds at restaurants.
“My mom loads the vegetables on! Everything is fresh when I eat at home, not a lot of starches, and half of our meal is usually vegetables compared to the few sprigs of lettuce and sprouts I consume at restaurants.” Dinh says. “I’m also learning my mom, grandmother, and dad’s traditional recipes to preserve our family’s Vietnamese food heritage.”
Dinh’s routine consists of soccer on Mondays and Thursdays, rock climbing two or three times a week, playing on a volleyball team during the summer, and snowshoeing during the winter.
“The first step is being aware of things in your life that aren’t good for you, whether it’s your diet, that you need to get out more, to exercise more frequently, or to find ways to get out of the office during the work day,” said Dinh. “Start by substituting unhealthy habits for healthy ones, like substituting a salad instead of fries. Working out with friends also really help when you’re starting out, you can motivate each other, biking and hiking are good hobbies with your work out buddy.”