Our food choices may be degrading our health and fitness sooner than we think — An opinionated view on modern food habits and choices.

Have you ever eaten out in a restaurant and wondered why are you gaining weight? Do you feel heavy and not so good after having a nice dinner at a restaurant. Is eating outside ruining your health goals and missing up with your plan?

Well, I have experienced all of the above and it’s not a good feeling after. A couple of weeks back, I decided I won’t have restaurant food so often and make changes to my lifestyle. And reduce my intake of food that is not cooked at home? This is a conscious decision I made, considering my health goals and what an impact eating out to us making on my health. In this article I want to share things that I have experienced, and share my view on the foods that we’re eating and how can we be fit and healthy during our lives just by learning more about this.

Any opinions I express on dining out or restaurants are any health related matter are solely my opinions and I am not a professional to comment on any of these scenarios. This is an opinionated article that doesn’t intend to harm or have a bias on anyone.

Let me start with telling that I love eating and dining out !

Dining out

We all enjoy dining out every now and then. Whether it’s a beer on a Friday night, or nice romantic weekend lunch — that feeling is wonderful. But I’m someone who doesn’t stop at just having a beer or having a simple meal outside. I’ll have fries, onion rings, and maybe will share a slice of pizza in the end. And this may be the case with a lot of other folks too.

But lately I have observed anything that I eat out is really taking a toll on my health. I feel very heavy and full after any normal meal — no matter where I eat out. It may be because of the portion sizes that are available in the US and Canada; but I remember all my life I’ve grown up eating similar portion sizes for meals that were cooked at home. And it wasn’t bad at all. And I’ve never felt this way eating a home cooked meal, and i still don’t.

I have come to realize that the nutrition density of the food that we are eating these days has drastically increased.

Whether it’s the packaged food from a grocery store or dining out. Everything we eat has become more calorie dense. And to be honest, things don’t look good after years from now. It worries me thinking the kind of food we are feeding ourselves and our kids these days.

A lot of it is fried in Restaurants

When I was a child, I never bothered to look at how restaurants cook their meals — or what goes inside them? But now I have become more conscious and I try to make healthy choices whenever I go out. I realized that almost everything we eat at a restaurant is just fried. Even when the menu says pan fried or grilled, I’m pretty sure the amount of oil that is being used is drastically higher than what I would have used at my home cooking the same meal.

I’ll share my personal experience from a very recent time. Growing up, I learnt that tandoori cooking is something that is very healthy and it uses fire to cook your food with a light brush of oil and marination. And it’s extremely tasty too. This is my ideal version of Tandoori. Very recently I visited a restaurant where I wanted to have Tandoori Soya chap. It’s soy protein marinated and fire grilled with spices. It looks something like this.

Soya Chaap — Credits — https://www.getarecipes.com/soya-chaap-recipe/

And this place was known to have extremely good tandoori Dishes. I was hungry and enjoyed the entire meal. But I was extremely full after a while for the amount of food I had. So I just went ahead and asked my server whether this was fried before it was put it in the put in the fire. Add to my surprise. This indeed was fried. I stopped having it from that day on.

The point I’m trying to make here is that even the healthiest of the choices we make while eating out may not be great in terms of nutritional value. The thing that I ordered was supposed to be healthy and tasty at the same time. Dining out, I find it extremely hard to find something that really is tasty and healthy at the same time. It’s like an oxymoron these days.

Frying is not so bad right ?

I keep telling myself that frying is not so bad occasionally. Deep frying or pan frying is a technique that is meant to add flavor and taste to food. But I believe it’s being overused everywhere. The problem I have is not that it’s fried, I don’t know how it’s fried. How many times do they reuse their oil? What’s the temperature they use for frying? Which kind of oil are they using?

These are the things that come to my mind these days and I’m trying to control what fried stuff goes in my body. I have to admit, I do enjoy the occasional frying at home. But the at home component is just something that I prefer.

Remember, frying a food is a chemical reaction. And the more we fry, the same oil. The chemical properties of an oil change and it enters the food that we eat. This might also cause a lot of issues with heart health as we age. Our body is an excellent machine that converts food into energy, but it has its limits. And it can’t go on forever. And eating fried food that is not healthy is one of the biggest contributors to degradation to one’s health.

Processed food

Again back to my childhood, I always used to eat food that was prepared at home, and was made from fresh vegetables and lentils. Nothing that was in a box and prepared. Processed food is anything that is not in it’s raw natural form. For instance Steel Cut Oats -> Rolled Oats -> Instant Oats -> Granola bar with Oats. Which one do you think is better ? Try checking out the amount of fiber and sugar in each one of them.

Today, there exists a plethora of choices when we step into any supermarket to buy stuff. Most of the packaged products in a store are only exist so that customers purchase it and the that boosts the product revenue. And this is not good. Try looking into the nutritional label for any processed food that you find in a store. You’ll be surprised when you compare it with the real food.

Food is supposed to have nutritional value. But the only thing that I see these days is sugars, fats and whole bunch of ingredients that I’ve never heard of. This is the real concern. I highly encourage folks to not eat anything that you aware about.

Whether it’s a simple bag of potato chips, almond milk, or a prepared meal. Do check out the ingredients and see what are you trying to eat? Make choices to prefer foods which have lesser ingredients and things that you are aware of.

I would even go to an extent and say that eat anything that is not processed and something that you can cook at home in your kitchen. This is the best way to provide food to our bodies. I know life can get very busy at times, but believe me, this is the thing that will help us healthy for generations.

Funny thing about the food manufacturing industry is that regulations govern what product is available in a store, and little or no consideration to the actual nutrition. Even things marketed as ‘healthy’ are not really healthy in many cases.

Nobody knows what these chemicals and ingredients can do to your health or genetically to our future generations over a long period of time. The best gift you can give to the people you care about is your health.

My take

I feel educating oneself about the nutritional value of food is extremely critical in modern times. Not just macros — eating fresh food has a whole bunch of nutrition value apart from carbohydrates, protein, sugar and fat in the form of minirals and vitamins. These may be destroyed while frying or eating processed versions of the same fresh food.

Learn how to read a nutritional label. Research on the ingredients that are present on food. Just Ask ChatGPT for some fun facts if you are unsure! Understand what nutrition density really means.

I really think that the food that we are eating these days is causing an impact to our health and we will realize it years down the line if we don’t take steps right now.

Being a foodie, it’s hard for me to really not think of eating a pizza or have. Side of rice with my food. But these small choices that I am trying to make in my life will probably going to give me immense benefit as I age. Our bodies are good at handling anything we throw at it. But it tries to ask us for our support over time or just give up dangerously. It’s a question of when!

Do start supporting your body And your health. If you are eating out very frequently or otherwise, make healthy choices, reduce portion sizes, and really think — where is that flavor coming from ? Be aware of what goes in your body.

And if you don’t think of nutrition and calories, then at least ask yourself if this will affect and degrade your health over time.

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