Disclaimer : The article does not recommend eating out in any hotel/restaurant of any kind. It also does not intend to recommend restaurants/hotels serving any Foreign dishes in India and does not mean to offend/hurt the feelings of Indians who have not tasted, or liked Chinese or any other foods mentioned in the article!  😉

Churmuri, pani puri , masala puri, ragda pattis, shev puri, dahi puri, these are some of the all time favourites that we all relish with our family and friends. Some more in the list like pizzas, burgers, puffs, cakes, hot brownies with a scoop of ice cream on top! And also not to forget hot paav bhaji and then a cool falooda at Juhu beach or elsewhere! 😉 Are you wondering if this is being written by a Nutritionist or somebody else?! 😉

A Nutritionist’s job is to recommend food items that can be included in a diet. Nutritionist plans a balanced diet by including all the food groups such that the meal is not only quantitatively satisfying but also meets the quality standards with respect to nutrients. Unless the condition of a client calls for exclusion of certain food items, a nutritionist does not advice a client to avoid any food stuff! All the recommendations that are made are usually planned keeping in mind the client’s food habits and food preferences.

Wait! This does not mean I am recommending you to eat the above mentioned foods daily! It’s just that these food items are so tasty and yummy; you can hardly resist temptation at times! So, can these be a part of your diet or should they be excluded completely?? I know many people who now want me to say that these foods are nutritious and can be included!! 😉

Of course, they are nutritious!! Take for eg churmuri, it can be considered a low calorie, beta carotene (vitamin A) rich, protein containing dish! (WHAT!) yes, ingredients that goes into making a yummy medium spiced churmuri  are puffed rice, grated carrots, onion, coriander leaves, chilli paste, tomato (optional), salt, oil lemon juice and peanuts. This can be considered a healthy snack when prepared at home. All chats mentioned above, like masala puris etc, have peas in them- a protein source. These dishes come with other ingredients like onion, coriander, carrots, tomatoes, which not just enhance taste of a dish but are also source of various nutrients.

What about pizzas then? Pizzas have extra cheese! Yes, a pizza is not a pizza without cheese!! But you can always order a vegetarian/non-vegetarian pizza with no extra cheese! Have more toppings of veggies on it and in case of non-veg pizza, choose lean meat. Try and make a healthy choice in selecting foods. Given an option to select between potato chips and roasted peanuts, you can always go for roasted peanuts, simply because it has protein, vitamin E, folate, niacin and healthy fat (monounsaturated fat) in it and you are satisfied easily compared to chips which you can go on eating as many as you want thereby adding up fat and calories!

What about Brownies, cakes, pastries and ice creams! I agree, they are too good to resist. Try to eat small portions of it instead of a large piece. How about sharing that small piece with your partner?! Thereby, you are not just decreasing the amount eaten but also increasing the Love between each other!(Partner could be your father/mother/sister/brother also ;)) Joke apart, try having small portion instead of a big one and also minimize on the scoops of ice cream you can have.

Falooda is wonderful Indian dessert. It has vermicelli, jelly, milk, ice cream and chia seeds (sabza/takmaria seeds). Chia seeds are good source of protein and also contain calcium, manganese and phosphorus. It is a great source of healthy omega-3 fatty acid.

In hotels/restaurants, if you want to keep a check on what you are eating and don’t want to fill yourself with extra calories and fats then, opt for an ala carte menu (order food from the menu card provided at the hotel/restaurant) rather than choosing a buffet lunch or dinner. This will help you make better choices and also restrict the amount of food that is served in front of you there by you can resist your temptation of trying too many dishes especially desserts which are usually part of a buffet.

Wise choices can be made while ordering food. Like for eg: ordering a plain roti instead of butter roti. Many restaurants now prepare rotis/kulchas using wheat flour rather than maida. Choose vegetable curries if you don’t want to include paneer. Steamed, boiled, sautéed, stir fried dishes are better choices in the order they are mentioned when compared to fried dishes!

Chinese foods are very popular in India. Various Manchurian (sometimes sold with Indian masalas!), noodles, fried rice, momos are relished by youngsters. The amount of vegetables that they use is what attracts many to authentic Chinese restaurants. Carrots, beans, broccoli, zucchini, lotus stem etc and the mildly flavored side dishes containing tofu (soya product rich in protein) attract people to their restaurants. While choosing these foods you can always make your choices too. Select steamed momos, dim-sums and wontons instead of fried ones. Opt for a dish that uses more vegetables rather than two or three along with selected noodles /rice.

Almost all restaurants these days oblige customers when they say that the food should have less oil. Check out if you are having artificial colors in the foods! This is one reason why you are advised not to eat Manchurian anywhere and everywhere and also because of the oil that goes into frying them. Food colors are used during preparation to enhance the color and acceptability of the dish, but if these colors do not meet the quality standards then they posses health hazard. Palak paneer, manchurian, green peas masala, paneer butter masala and many other dishes that look colorful and inviting may contain colors in them. This is also one reason why the palak paneer you prepare at home does not match color wise to the one you ordered in a restaurant! (you can always retain the color of green leafy vegetables and cooked peas by immersing them in cold water as soon as they are blanched)

All the above mentioned foods are source of various nutrients but, the fact that they might contain excess oil, spices, and low quality raw ingredients in them makes it essential for an individual to consider the place of eating such foods. Being thoughtful when you are eating out always has its own benefits.

Hygiene and sanitation is an important thing that has to be kept in mind. The surroundings where the food is prepared, water source for food preparation as well as washing utensils and plates, quality of ingredients that goes into making a dish, personal hygiene of person handling the food and disposing of the used plates and spoons… all are important in determining the quality of food that a person consumes.

Eating out is fun with family and friends as far as you don’t have a stomach upset next morning! The place you choose to eat food is also important. Give ‘eat out’ food items a ‘guest appearance’ role in your film and never allow them to play a lead role thus, ensuring a guaranteed hit at the box office called ‘Life’! (Bollywood again?!) 😉

Dr.Sowmya Rao




About raosowmya

Hello enthusiastic readers I am Dr.Sowmya, a Consultant Nutritionist with more than ten years of experience in the field of Food Science and Nutrition. It gives me great pleasure to discuss some of the things related to food , nutrition and health that i notice in my day to day teaching and research life with all you enthusiastic readers. Many scientific journals/books/research articles and reports are sources of information that aid me to write an article in this Blog. Credit goes to all researchers worldwide and also to you readers for reading and spreading the information you gather from this blog. Many images have been used in the blog which are personally photographed or downloaded from search engines. welcome to my blog...enjoy reading... :)
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6 Responses to EATING OUT!

  1. Kiran K S says:


  2. Shiva says:

    Good article Sowmya! I am with you on eating out… “When you can’t resist, re-assist!”

    According to me Chinese are skinner, wondering is the oil used by Chinese is less fatty? Chinese mostly eat steamed food, which could be one reason. The other being they don’t get much on chopsticks 🙂 But wanted to evaluate other factors…
    what keeps them skinny? The oil they use for cooking could be one of the reasons? Is Soya oil widely used? Is Soya oil good and less fatty? Is Soya oil a possible replacement for oils we use in India for cooking?

    • raosowmya says:

      Hi Shiva
      First things first..Thanks a lot for going through my article 🙂
      Various theories have been linked for Chinese being skinny. As you mentioned it could be the use of chop sticks and also the bowls they use to eat rice/noodles, which restrict their serving size per meal. Yes most of their foods are boiled/ steamed or stir fried. The consumption of rice/noodles/vegetables/fruits is more compared to red meat (rich in fat content). Inclusion of tea (green) is more and it is observed that these teas are served without sugar (1 tsp sugar= 20 kcal). Green tea as such has various health benefits. It has compounds that help brain use blood sugar for fuel and stimulate the production of energizing hormones called endorphins. (May be this is one secret of them being physically active always! ;)) The possible influence of genes also cannot be ruled out.
      Regarding use of soya oil, it is a good choice considering it being low in saturated fat and high PUFA (omega 6 and Omega 3 -essential fatty acids ). It is plant based oil and hence low in harmful saturated fats and contains no cholesterol just like safflower oil or any other vegetable oils. Saturated fat content in oils-canola, safflower, flax seed, sunflower, corn, olive, soya bean varies from 7.3 to 15.6%. (canola being lowest and soya oil being highest). Peanut oil has 16.9% SF.
      Many times soya oil is hydrogenated to increase the shelf life and the saturated fat content would be around 21% and these also contain trans fat which is not considered healthy. 1tbsp (15ml) of sunflower oil, soya bean oil, and olive oil gives 13.6, 13.5 and 13.5 g respectively and more or less equal energy ranging 120-124 kcals. These figures show that the fat content has no much difference.
      For cooking, it is usually recommended that a combination of oils is used. Like for eg: ground oil has 49% mono unsaturated fat whereas Soya has only 24% .But soya stands high in PUFA with 61% compared to peanut-33%. Hence a combination of oils is what is recommended, as all oils contain varying amounts of saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat.
      I was unable to find any research report linking soya bean oil consumption and Chinese being skinny (if I find one, will let u know) but found this article giving in detail the processing of soya bean oil.check out the health benefits and usage part of the article

      Also chek out

  3. Shiva says:

    Thanks Sowmya. I will try collect some facts of their food habits while i am here.

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