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Kerala Diet Plan For Weight Loss

Kerala Diet Plan For Weight Loss

My earliest memory as a child visiting Kerala was that of smiling faces and crowded streets. The beautiful aroma's of freshly prepared Thattu Dosa and hot and crispy Pazham Pori floating through the air only made my trip more memorable.

kerala street food

Kerala has a rich and diverse culinary history. The cuisine of Kerala, also known as Keralite, Malyali or Kerana cuisine, is influenced by

  1. its geographical location,
  2. abundant natural resources, and,
  3. multicultural heritage.

Kerala's cuisine is characterised by its unique blend of flavours and spices, which sets it apart from other regional cuisines in India.

However, with the increasing availability and consumption of processed and fast foods, Kerala has witnessed a rise in obesity rates in recent years. This has led to a renewed focus on traditional plant-based diets, which are healthier and more sustainable for the environment.

In recent years, Kerala has been grappling with a rising obesity epidemic. According to a study conducted by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) in 2019-20, the prevalence of obesity among men and women in Kerala was 18.6% and 23.8%, respectively. This is significantly higher than the national average of 13.9% and 15.9% for men and women, respectively.

The study also found that the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children under five in Kerala was 21.1%, higher than the national average of 17.3%.

obesity in kerala

Moreover, a high percentage of adolescents in Kerala were found to be overweight or obese, with 16.4% of boys and 14.4% of girls falling into this category.

The rise in obesity rates in Kerala is a cause for concern, as it can lead to various health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.

The increasing adoption of a Westernized diet, high in fat, sugar, and processed foods, is a major contributor to this trend. To combat this, there is a growing movement towards promoting traditional plant-based diets, that are similar tot he way our fore- fathers ate.

What does a typical Kerala diet look like?

A typical Kerala diet primarily consists locally grown produce. Rice, coconut, and various vegetables are the staple foods. The region's cuisine is renowned for its rich, spicy flavours and diverse preparation methods.

Typical dishes include dosa, idli, sambhar, avial, and thoran. Coconut oil is frequently used in cooking, providing a distinct flavour and aroma. Lentils and legumes are also consumed regularly, along with fresh fruits like jackfruit and mango.

malayali sadhya

In addition, traditional snacks and sweets made with rice flour, jaggery, and coconut are popular in Kerala. The emphasis on fresh vegetables in the Kerala diet makes it an ideal option for those looking to adopt a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.

Before we dive into the best diet plan for weight loss, let's look at the history for Malyali cuisine.

History of Kerala cuisine.

The history of Kerala cuisine dates back to ancient times. Several cultures and trade routes have influenced the region's cuisine. The indigenous population of Kerala relied on rice, fish, and coconut as their primary food sources. Over time, traders and immigrants introduced new ingredients, spices, and cooking methods to the region.

history of kerala
  • Arab traders brought spices like cinnamon and clove,
  • while the Portuguese introduced chilli peppers and tomatoes.
  • Dutch and British colonisers also left their mark on Kerala's cuisine.

The result is a diverse culinary tradition known for its unique flavours and combinations. Kerala cuisine is also known for its health benefits due to its focus on eatign ample plants, fresh ingredients, and traditional cooking methods. Today, Kerala cuisine continues evolving and adapting to changing tastes and dietary preferences while maintaining its rich cultural heritage.

Pros and cons of the Kerela diet.

Like with all cultures, there are some beautiful aspects of the traditional food of Kerala. However, with time, traditions have taken a back seat and lifestyles have changes. The growing rate of diseases and obesity today is a testimony of our failing cultural habits.

Let us take a closer look:

Pros of a Malayalam Diet:

  • Use of local ingredients: The Kerala diet is based on locally sourced fresh and nutritious ingredients. This promotes sustainable agriculture practices, supports the local economy, and guarantees seasonally grown produce. because produce does not have to be imported, the use of pesticides and herbicides on vegetables and fruits is also limited.

  • Use of medicinal spices: Kerala cuisine is known for its use of medicinal spices such as turmeric, cumin, and coriander, which are rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These spices can help with digestion, boost immunity and have other health benefits. Moreover, the spices used in Kerala cuisine have a rich flavour and aroma, making food more enjoyable.

  • Abundant in diversity: You will never see a traditional thali with less than 20 different varieties of plants! Plant diversity in the diet is the biggest predictor of gut health. Gut health is the biggest predictor of chronic diseases! Moreover, whole grains such as red and unprocessed rice is preferred to processed grains such as white bread.

  • Focus on plant-based foods: A traditional lunch plate is filled with plants with very small servings of meat on the side. Granted, this is changing over time, but the use of plants is still very high in the local dishes. Plant-based foods are rich in nutrients and have several health benefits, including reduced risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Cons of a Malayalam Diet:

  • High in inflammation causing foods such as eggs and meat: Kerala cuisine can be high in meat and other inflammatory foods, increasing the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Consuming too much meat can also lead to digestive problems and cancer growth.

  • Excess consumption of oils: Kerala cuisine relies heavily on oils, especially coconut oil, which is high in saturated fat. While eating whole coconut's has certain health benefits, oil's should be avoided at all cost. Oil's increase the risk of cholesterol, heart disease, weight gain, and other health problems.

  • Excessive salt intake: The use of salt locally is very liberal, leading to high blood pressure, water retention, and other diseases. Moreover, the consumption of packages foods, that use extra salt to act as a preservative and increase shelf life of the product, is high in Kerala. It is essential to monitor and balance your salt intake with other nutrients in your diet.

  • Rich in seafood: Kerala cuisine is also known for its seafood and fish consumption. High mercury level's in fish due to industrial fish farming techniques can make its consumption very dangerous. Long term mercury intake has been linked to brain degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Diseases in Kerala among this new food culture.

The changing food culture in Kerala has brought about several health issues, mainly due to the shift from traditional diets to more processed and packaged foods. The traditional Kerala cuisine, predominantly plant-based, fresh, and locally sourced, is now replaced by foods high in saturated fats, refined sugars, and salt.

Here are a few diseases associated with this new food culture:

  1. Obesity: With the increased consumption of processed foods, Kerala has seen a significant rise in obesity rates, especially among children and adolescents. High-calorie diets, coupled with sedentary lifestyles, have contributed to this trend. Lifestyle changes are highly suggested to compact this. Watch this video to understand more:

  2. Cardiovascular diseases: A diet high in saturated fats and refined sugars can lead to high levels of bad cholesterol, increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks, strokes, and hypertension.

  3. Diabetes: The prevalence of diabetes in Kerala has been increasing, and it is now considered a significant public health issue. This can be attributed to a shift from traditional diets to more meat and fried food.

  4. Gastrointestinal disorders: The high oil and animal fat content in Kerala cuisine, when combined with an unhealthy lifestyle, can lead to digestive problems like indigestion, acid reflux, and irritable bowel syndrome.

  5. Food allergies and intolerance: With new agricultural techniques, ingredients, and preservatives, many people are developing food allergies and intolerance. This can lead to adverse reactions, such as skin rashes, digestive problems, and even respiratory issues.

  6. Micronutrient deficiencies: With the shift from traditional diets, there is a risk of developing micronutrient deficiencies, leading to various health problems. For example, iron-deficiency anaemia is common among women and children in Kerala.

The changing food culture in Kerala has brought about several health problems, primarily due to a shift away from traditional diets. While it is essential to embrace new foods and culinary practices, it is crucial to ensure that we maintain a balanced and healthy diet to prevent the onset of chronic diseases.

Unhealthy local Kerela dishes and their healthy alternatives.

While Kerala cuisine is known for its delicious flavours and unique blend of spices, some traditional dishes can suffer due to their high fat, sugar, and salt content.

Here are five unhealthy local Kerala dishes and their healthier alternatives:

  • Appam and Ishtu: Appam, a popular breakfast dish, is often paired with Ishtu, a coconut-based stew. The original recipe calls for a considerable amount of coconut milk, which is high in saturated fat. A healthier alternative would be to use light coconut milk or even substitute it with plant-based milk like almond or cashew milk.
healthy appam

  • Beef Fry: While beef is a common ingredient in Kerala cuisine, it is loaded in saturated fats and growth hormone. Animal protein is also the root cause for high uric acid and the growth of tumours in the body. Instead of beef, one can opt for a plant-based protein like pulses or even jackfruit to make a healthier stir fry.

  • Puttu and Kadala Curry: Puttu is a popular breakfast dish made with rice flour and often paired with Kadala Curry, a spicy chickpea curry. The traditional recipe uses refined white flour and canned coconut milk, which is high in fat and calories. A healthier alternative would be to use whole wheat flour or oats and make the curry with fresh coconut milk.
healthy kadala curry
  • Achappam: Achappam, a crispy snack made with rice flour, sugar, and coconut milk, is delicious but high in sugar and refined carbs. A healthier alternative would be to replace the sugar with natural sweeteners like dates and use millet or brown rice flour.

  • Parotta and Beef Curry: Parotta, a layered flatbread, is often paired with spicy beef curry. Both are high in calories, saturated fats, and refined carbs. A healthier alternative would be to use whole wheat or multigrain parotta and substitute the beef with mixed vegetables like carrots, beans, and potatoes.

Traditional Kerala dishes can be made healthier and more nutritious by making these simple substitutions. Maintaining the classic flavours and techniques while using more beneficial ingredients to create a balanced and healthy diet is essential.

Top five lifestyle modification changes for weight loss.

Permanent weight loss cannot be achieved by following a temporary diet plan. Sustainable lifestyle changes in the right direction is the only way to achieve long- term weight loss.

For example, reducing portion sizes to eat less and lose weight is a temporary solution. But making sure you eat a fruit before a meal ensures you eat less for the meal.


Fruits act as appetite suppressors and are anti- oxidant. They have very little calories and most fo the calories are fiber rich, which do not convert to body fat. Thus, this simple lifestyle change of making sure you eat a fruit before a meal will help you not only lose weight, but keep the weight if forever.

Here are my most successful lifestyle changes for weight loss:

Switch to a plant-forward diet: Plant-based diets are the best diet for weight loss and disease prevention. They are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help you lose weight and improve your overall health.

Besides this, plants are extremely low in calories, meaning, you can eat to your heart's content without having to worry about weight gain.

Improve your circadian health: Let your sleep and wake up time be as close to the sun's natural cycle. Late night cravings and lack of satiety often arises from bad sleep habits. We often talk about the quantity of sleep that is essential, when in reality, quality of sleep is even more important than quantity.

Include more leafy greens in your diet: Thylakoids, found in leafy greens, have been shown to have fat-blocking and appetite-suppressing effects, which can help you lose weight. Add leafy greens like spinach, amaranth, and collard greens to your meals.

Make sure to consume 80- 100 grams of leafy greens per day. Limit spinach to once time per week and focus go getting diversity when it comes to leafy green consumption.

Pump up your non-exercise activity: Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) refers to the calories you burn daily, such as walking, cleaning, and gardening. Everyone know's of people who are naturally lean. Most often, these are also the people who are most active involuntarily. They are the once to spring into action when the doorbell rings or when a task needs to be done.

You can teach yourself to be more active by adopting simple tasks like covering 7700 steps per day or only taking the stairs. It truly is much more than going to the gym for an hour everyday.

Reduce consumption of hyper-palatable foods: Hyper-palatable foods are highly processed foods that are designed to be addictive and can make you crave more. Reducing your consumption of these foods can help you lose weight and improve your overall health. So skip the biscuits and fried snacks at 4 pm and instead have a cup of fruits or even nuts. Salted or masala coated nuts are also hyper- palatable and must be avoided.

You can achieve your weight loss goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle by implementing many such lifestyle changes. Remember, small changes can lead to significant results, so start by making one change at a time and build from there.

Sample meal plan for fat- loss.

Here is a sample one week plan for weight loss. It is advised to use minimal to no oil's for cooking the meals.

Please also only use this meal plan as a guide to help you get started. Individual needs vary and a healthy meal plan must be customised for individual needs. Feel free to reach out to me directly by filling the free consultation form below if you need help curating a meal plan that is right for your needs.

Meanwhile, here is a sample meal plan:

Kerala diet chart for weight loss
Making lifestyle changes is essential for weight loss and maintaining overall wellbeing.

By incorporating:
  • more plant-based foods,
  • getting enough sleep,
  • including more leafy greens,
  • increasing non-exercise activity, and,
  • reducing the consumption of hyper-palatable foods,
You can achieve your weight loss goals and improve your overall health.
Remember to start small, build from there, and don't be too hard on yourself if you slip up. Making sustainable lifestyle changes takes time and effort, but the benefits are well worth it.

Let's Just Talk. No Obligations.

I do free consultations every Tuesday's and Thursday's. Either way you will get some actionable tips to reach your fitness goals faster.

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Anita - July 20, 2023

Totally clueless writeup of Kerala cuisine.Please do a proper research and then publish articles I am a malayali and saddened to see such nonsense.

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About Roshni Sanghvi

Roshni Sanghvi is an Indian plant-based sports nutritionist and body transformation specialist. She is the first Indian to represent on a national bodybuilding stage being on a 100% plant-based diet. Roshni is a holistic nutritionist, graduated from the prestigious NutraPhoria college of nutrition in Canada.

She is also an ACE-certified personal trainer, certified PlantFed gut coach, certified Bodyshred, and Animal flow instructor with a specialisation in disease reversal through food and lifestyle modification.

Her approach is more focused on helping you in adopting a healthy lifestyle. With her result-oriented holistic methods, she has managed to transform and reverse lifestyle diseases such as PCOS, Thyroid, Diabetes etc for 12k+ clients worldwide.