The urban Indian is fighting the battle of the bulge. Our lifestyles are changing drastically. Eating out has become the norm rather than the exception. If not restaurants, we are invited to office parties or friends’ homes for gatherings where the evening revolves around food. When you are trying to lose weight or maintain your optimum weight, a large variety of food placed in front of you maybe more enticement than you can handle. Here are a few ideas that may help you. By Dr. Gita Arjun.
- Reduce your appetite: The brain has a satiety center that tells you when you have eaten enough. Carry puffed rice, popcorn or roasted gram dal with you. Before going out, fill up your stomach with a cup of puffed rice or popcorn or roasted gram dal and drink a large glass of water. This will give you a sensation of being comfortably full. This way you will eat sensibly and not give in to the temptation of ordering too much.
- Order the one dish you really like on the menu: It is difficult to avoid temptation. So indulge in one dish you really like but eat a small quantity of it. Avoid the empty calories like rice and breads made with maida and butter, like naan.
- Order smart: Order only one or two dishes- order more only after you have finished them. Plan to share rather than ordering one dish for each person at the table. If you order a large number of dishes, you will eat them even when you are full to bursting. Above all, avoid dessert. Opt for a plate of fresh fruits instead.
Eating healthy: Indian food
Ask for a green salad and roasted papads before you start ordering the main course. Indian appetizers are mostly fried and best avoided. Tandoori starters are better but don’t order anything which says ‘malai’ (cream) because it will be high in fat. Chapatis and tandoori rotis are better than naans, kulchas, parathas and puris which are loaded with fat. Idiyappam is a good choice because it is steamed. Steamed rice is a better option than biriyanis and pulaos. Order a variety of vegetables. If possible, order tandoori grilled vegetables. Avoid paneer unless it is grilled or added to the dish without frying. Palak paneer is a healthier choice than paneer butter masala. With non-vegetarian dishes, avoid deep fried preparations. Choose gravy which is not floating in oil. Tandoori is probably a healthier choice because grilled dishes are better than deep fried ones. Avoid food cooked in coconut oil or containing coconut. When it is a decision between idlis and dosas, idlis win hands down in the healthy food department!
Eating healthy: Chinese food
Most restaurants will serve pickled vegetables while you are waiting to order. Ask for extra portions- they will curb your appetite. A clear soup is a healthy option because it will fill you up without adding on calories. Steamed dumplings (dim sum) are great appetizers and better than fried ones. Learn to use chopsticks- it will help you eat less since it demands more dexterity! Chinese food is meant for sharing. Order steamed rice – fried rice and fried noodles are high in oil. Order side dishes which can be shared. Make sure that you order a vegetable dish which has a medley of fresh vegetables. Avoid menu items described as crispy or golden brown because they are deep-fried.
Eating healthy: Italian food
Italian food can be delicious and healthy if you choose your order carefully. When you order the appetizers, concentrate on salads. Ask for a light salad dressing made with olive oil and vinegar. Brochette loaded with tomatoes is a good appetizer if you stick to one or two. Avoid cheese on your appetizers. Choose main dishes that are grilled or baked rather than fried or breaded. Dishes like grilled chicken with vegetables are healthier alternatives to chicken Parmesan. If you are ordering pasta, avoid cream based sauces and choose a tomato sauce or a pesto. If ordering a pizza, stick to thin crust loaded with vegetables. Do not ask for extra cheese. Stop with two slices! Always order keeping in mind that you will share the food. Eating out does not have to end in self-recrimination for having eaten unwisely. Eat healthy and eat smart – it will stand you in good stead in the long run.