Eating Out the Healthier Way
Sri Lanka's Doctors' Wives Association President Mrs. Chrissy
Aloysius in an interview with the Health Watch referring to the present
trend in society, where most of the people have got used to eating out
from any food outlets in cities and in their neighbourhoods, emphasised
the need to health educate them properly on the care they should
exercise in this way of eating out for their own and their families good
She said the Food Facts of Asia had carried an article on this topic
recently, which makes healthy and profitable reading for the public.
Here's that article for your reading consumption.
Breakfast at a coffee shop, lunch at a burger joint, dinner from a
noodle stall. If this describes your typical weekday meal plan, you are
one of millions across Asia who are now eating more and more meals out
of home. After all, most of us spend a sizeable part of the day away
from home so it's inevitable that we eat out as well.
Eating out is very much an Asian phenomenon, with street food sellers
(called hawkers in some countries) selling everything from local burgers
to traditional noodle-based fare forming an essential part of the Asian
food landscape; in addition to stand-alone restaurants offering cuisines
from all over the world.
International fast-food chains have also become popular and offer a
quick and hygienic option for people on the more.
Eating out need not be a guilty or unhealthy experience. Practising
the same guidelines as home-cooked meals would ensure that eating out
provides the same kind of nutritional benefits.
Besides, eating out does have its advantages: it takes a lot less
time and hassle (no need to prepare and wash up afterwards) and one is
more likely to savour foods from other ethnic groups or cuisines while
eating out. In addition, eating out exposes one to a rich variety of
foods - a key recommendation for good nutrition; something those of us
with limited cooking skills may not be able to adhere to at home!
Nevertheless, there are pitfalls to avoid in eating out. In Asia,
especially in developing countries, some street food and eateries
hygiene standards are a little dubious. Food sold on side-walks may be
at risk of being contaminated by dust and other pollutants.
Furthermore if eateries do not have access to clean water for
washing, microbes that cause food poisoning may contaminate food. Also,
unless the seller keeps a chiller on-site raw cooking ingredients like
meat and seafood may be breeding grounds for microbes - especially if
they are not cooked thoroughly.
Therefore, the first rule to eating out healthily and safely is to be
choosy about the outlet. Avoid eating in places where cleanliness is
suspect. The stall's location, the food preparer's cleaning habits as
well as his/her overall hygiene should give an indication of the safety
of the food.
Good food hygiene standards are being achieved, by many, and one of
the benefits of globalisation, is global food hygiene standards using
systems like HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points).
Comprehensive and mandatory training for food handlers in Good Hygiene
Practises are also becoming increasingly common.
Nevertheless, personal vigilance is always prudent, so remember
always to look out for tell-tale signs like food that has been left warm
too long, food that is left uncovered, etc.
Watch the Oil and Salt
Some ready-to-eat foods have more oil, salt and sugar than
home-cooked food. Oil and salt could also be hidden in sauces, dressings
and condiments. For example, the low-fat nature of Japanese meals is
certainly a health bonus, but the soy sauce served with many dishes is
high in sodium. To ease up on these, ask for the dressing or sauces to
be served on the side and use them sparingly.
Other healthy alternatives could include using low-calorie or low
sodium alternatives. Add cut chilies without dousing them with soy
sauce, or add only one or two drops. Use mustard and ketchup instead of
mayonnaise on burgers and sandwiches, and pepper or lemon juice instead
Healthy Asian Cuisine?
Next, look at what's on the menu. Asian cuisines, just like all other
styles of cuisine around the world, have their share of low fat and high
fat recipes, low sodium and high-salt dishes and sauces, and dishes that
are good for satisfying appetite but low in calories and vice versa.
Take for instance, curries: Many traditional curries use coconut
milk, which is high in saturated fats, but other alternatives
Mrs. Chrissy Aloysius
example Assam (tamarind)-based curries and soups, tom yam dishes
prepared without coconut milk and dhall curries all provide the spicy
'oomph' without the accompanying calories or saturated fat.
Rice, the Asian staple, can also be another calorie pitfall. The
usual form served is white rice, which has very much less fibre and
vitamins that the brown version served only in specialty restaurants.
Also, some rice varieties satisfy appetite for longer than others.
However, steamed white rice is generally a better choice than fried
rice, buriyani and other specialty rice like nasi minayak (oil rice) or
rice cooked in butter or ghee. Even chicken rice, a Malaysian and
Singaporean favourite, may have hidden calories, for example if the rice
is cooked in butter.
Noodles, a breakfast and lunch favourite, usually comes either in
soup or "dry" form. The clear, broth-based soups are generally lower in
oil and sodium than dry noodles, so if noodles are your favourite, be
sure to choose the types with lower oil and sodium some of the time.
However, there are plenty of caterers' cooking, methods that meet
with nutritionists' approval. A classic meal in Asia, consisting of
rice, vegetables and some meat or seafood fits the healthy eating
recommendations of complex carbohydrates, dietary fibre, lots of fruits
and vegetables, limited saturated fats and protein - if you choose the
right cooking style.
When it comes to vegetables, Asians are spoilt for choice in the
variety of styles vegetables can be cooked in. Steamed, stir-fried,
poached, boiled in soups, cooked in curries - vegetables from Asia are
often packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals without sacrificing taste
and flavour. Make vegetables the mainstay of your meal out and you will
not go wrong.
Baked seafood - fish, shrimp, calamari - are other good options for
the Asia region. Marinated in spices and wrapped in banana leaves, baked
or grilled seafood is a low-fat but flavourful option to fried or
deep-fried versions and also a good source of "good" fats.
Other healthy and 'yummy' options are grilled meats, barbecued or
steamed fish or chicken and stir-fried beef. Just be careful of the rich
sauces that are often served with these meats, as they may be heavy in
oil or salt.
Finish up a meal by taking advantage of the huge variety of tropical
fruits available. Many fruits in Asia are good sources of vitamins,
minerals and disease-fighting phytochemicals and are an enjoyable way to
ensure you get your daily 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables. In
addition, fruits are a lower calorie alternative to desserts as a sweet
end to a meal.
Substitute Your Choices
Sometimes eating healthier requires some substitution work. Ask for
less oil or salt in your food. Instead of doubling your meat portions,
ask for more vegetables instead when ordering noodles or rice. Request
wholewheat instead of white bread in your sandwiches, low-fat milk in
your beverages and baked jacket potatoes, salads or steamed vegetables
instead of fries.
Instead of pizza with plenty of pepperoni and cheese, order instead a
veggie pizza with additional vegetable toppins. Pizzas with a thin crust
(instead of the traditional thick crust) also good for cutting calories.
Cut down on the calories at fast-food restaurants with low-fat milk
shakes (which are a great source of calcium), 100% juices, bottled
water, sugar-free black, green or oolong teas, or diet soft drinks
instead of regular soft drinks. Fish or chicken burgers or 100% ground
beef patties without extra toppings will all help to keep calorie intake
Mind the Portion Size
A common problem with eating out is a greater temptation to eat more
than one would at home. Large extra-value portion sizes can seem
tempting because of cost savings, but opting for the bigger portion size
can lead to eating more than is necessary to satisfy appetite, and
ordering a larger fries or drink could add as much as 25% more fat and
calories to your meal.
As well as matching your order to your appetite, be very aware when
enjoying your meal, of how much you are eating. Pay attention to the
food and your hunger levels and most of all take a little time to enjoy
your food, and for your body to signal when your hunger is beginning to
If you find the meal or snack you are eating is larger than you need,
consider sharing with a friend, or request a takeout box and eat it for
lunch the next day, or just leave the last few mouthfuls. Despite what
parents may have told you in childhood, it really is OK not to finish
everything on the plate or in a carton!
Food Based Dietary Guidelines for Sri Lankans
Prepared by Dr. Renuka Jayatissa and Prof. Sunethra Athukorale
* Eat a variety of foods everyday.
* Eat an adequate amount of rice, rice flour preparations, starchy
foods and other cereals at least three times a day.
* Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits.
* Eat less bread and other wheat flour preparations.
* Eat more pulses, fish or dried fish, a moderate amount of poultry
and eggs and little meat.
* Consume milk or milk products daily.
* Consume moderate amounts of fat in your diet.
* Limit salt intake and use only iodised salt.
* Take less sugar, sweets or sweetened drinks.
* Drink plenty of water.
* Maintain an adequate body weight by balancing food intake with
regular physical activities.
* Eat additional food during pregnancy and lactation.
* Exclusively Breastfeed your baby for 4 months. Breast-feeding
should be continued up to 2 years while giving complementary foods.
* Complementary feeding should be introduced to infants by 4 months.
* Children and adolescents should take an adequate and nutritious
* Elderly should eat foods with high nutritional value.
* Eat clean and safe foods.
* Eat naturally occurring foods cooked at home in preference to
a) Beware of irresponsible marketing of sugar based food and drink
for children and pregnant women.
b) Be aware of the appropriate weight for one's height and the
concept of Body Mass Index (BMI) that can be cross checked by your
midwife/primary care doctor.
c) Need for physical exercise and lifestyle modification.
Visakian and Anandian get health watch childrens crossword grid
designing prizes on Peace and Amity and Family
Two students from Visakha Vidyalaya and Ananda College, Colombo got
the health watch, year-end (2006) grid designing prizes for the special
childrens crosswords on the theme Peace and Amity for senior students
and family for the junior students.
The two students are Viraj Bandara, year 13, Visakha Vidyalaya,
Colombo seniors grid on the theme "Peace and Amity", and Sadun
Tikiribandara, year 3 Ananda College, Colombo, Juniors grid on the theme
This year-end special childrens crossword competition was sponsored
by the Doctors Wives Association, Sri Lanka.
The Childrens Crossword Draw, which could not be held on December
17th, as scheduled owing to an accident suffered by a health watch
staffer will now be held on June 10th at 10.30 a.m. at the SLMA. (Sri
Lanka Medical Association) auditorium at Wijerama Mawatha, Ward Place,
The two students whose grids were selected will be offered their
prizes at this draw by the Doctors Wives Association President Mrs.
The childrens crossword draw and the monthly medical crossword draw
No. 25 will be held at this function.
The following had sent correct entries for the childrens crossword:
Children in the age group (5 to 10 years) on the "Family theme"
(1) DEF, (3) CUT, (5) DID, (6) PUP, (7) BAT, (9) SIS, (11) TAP, (12)
(1) DAD, (2) FED, (3) CUP, (4) TOP, (7) BALL, (8) TALK, (9) SIT, (10)
Entries sent by
(1) Jai Mutumani (07 years) British School, Colombo Maix Muthasir (9
years) Hijaz International year 4
(2) V. R. Sadana (8 years) Good Shepherd Convent Year 3
(3) Sadamini Tilekeratne (8 years) Lanka Saba Junior School,
Battaramulla year 3
(4) Nicholi Perera (9 years) Ladies College, Colombo, Five B.
(5) Dilki Alexander (8 years) Buddhist Ladies College, Grade 3 A
(6) Nicoli Clark (8 years) Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya, Year 3
(7) Sandeepa Ratnayake (9 years) Palapoluswa Kanishta Vidyalaya, Year
(8) T. Ragavi (7 years) Highlands C.C., Hatton, Year 3
(9) Anjula Seneviratne (9 years) Sri Sangamitta BMV, Matale.
(10) Sashini Moraes (7 years) Holy Family Convent, Col. 4, 3 A
(11) Vinu Wijeratne (9 years) Vihara Maha Devi G.C, Kandy, 5 B
(12) Yohan Gunatileke (7 years) St. Josephs College, Year 3
(13) Udani Navaratne (7 years) Hillwood College, Kandy.
(14) M. N. F. Nusfa (9 years) Zahira College, Grade 3
(15) Kavindu Bandaratilleke (9 years), Wesley College, Colombo 9,
(16) Lahiru Muthukuda (9 years) Lyceum International, School,
Nugegoda, Grade 5
(17) Rahul Isuranga (9 years) Sidharta Vidyalaya, year 4.
Special Crossword Senior Children (10-16 years) on the theme peace &
Solution: - Across
(5) IRA (7) atombomb
(9) harm, (11) annihilate
(15) Tug, (16) humane,
(21) UDI, (22) Amnesty
(23) enemy, (24) family
(1) unity, (2) death
(3) sad, (4) amity
(6) poppy, (8) more, (10) peace
(11) attitude, (12) humility
(13) langauge, (14) war
(18) nile, (19) stem, (20) cosy.
The following have sent the correct entries which will be put into
the draw on June 10th and Doctors wives Association offers and gift
vouchers of Rs. 2,000, Rs. 1,500, and Rs. 1,000 will be given to the
first three correct entries drawn.
Murray De Costa (15 years) St. Peters College, Col 4, Grade 10.
M. Ashad H. Fouze (13 years), St. Peters, College, Col 4 - 8 E
Miss Avindi Perera (14 years), Musaeus College, Year 9.
Lalendra Seneviratne (15 years), St. Thomas College, Matale, Year 10.
Sanoj Seneviratne (15 years) St. Thomas College, Matale, Year 10.
Nilanga Perera (14 years), St. Josephs College, Col. 10, Year 9
Laknee de Silva (11 years) Sirimavo Bandaranayake Vidyalaya, Grade 6.
Kadija Soeb (13 years) Burhani Serendib School, Form III
Madushani Gamage (15 years) Darmapala Vidyalaya, Pannipitiya, Year 9.
Asitha Naratne (10 years), Trinity College, Kandy, Year 5 E.
G. K. M. de Soysa (10 years), St. Josephs Convent, Gampola, Year 6.
Shalani Ruberu (15 years), Holy Family Convent, Col. 4, Year 9.
Dinushi Ishara Siriwardena, (14 years) Hillwood College, Kandy, Year
Cynthia V. Rayen (16 years), Good Shepherd Convent, GCE (O/L)
Dureksha Siriwardena (14 years), Holy Family Convent, Dehiwala, Year
Joenne Perera (13 years), Ladies College, Colombo Year 8.
Doctors Wives Association, its President Chrissy Aloysius, Health
Watch Daily News Features Department thank all those students who sent
entries, and wish them the best of luck in the draw, and a bright future
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