Dining out is a necessity with more people migrating to places away from homes. The nature of one’s job has also evolved with people forced to spend 12 hours with work-related activities, even if it is about working from home or a cafe. Though eating out is unavoidable, its side effects can be avoided by consuming only what you actually need. “Dinning out or ordering food from restaurants can be due to economic and personal reasons. Economic factors include shifting to new places for jobs or long hours with odd timings at workplaces. The social factors include the changing profile of our families where people have little or no time to prepare food at home,” said Sridhar Jayakumar, a gastroenterologist.
“I don’t believe that all food prepared away from home are unhealthy, but certainly they are not the same as food prepared at home, and for some, it could negatively affect their bodies with symptoms showing up after many years,” he said, adding that it is from his experience of working in the Middle East for many years, including Oman. According to experts, the chances of overeating are more because restaurants or the mess at a workplace or educational institution prepare varieties of food for different segments of customers.
Many restaurants also offer side dishes like fries, bread, salads, and beverages, tempting an individual to eat much more than his/her minimum diet intake. “People are likely to consume 200 to 300 calories less if they are likely to eat at home. Food prepared in restaurants can lead to higher intakes of salt, sugar and other artificial ingredients, which could result in minor or immediate health issues such as constant headaches, poor sleep, and weight gain. The long-run health issues such as ulcer, cancer, diabetes, heart, and liver and kidney problems can be avoided if reasons for the minor ones are studied in detail,” said a nutrition expert at a primary health centre in Muscat.
She added, “We are not talking just about the junk food because any food prepared outside the home might have excess sodium that increases blood pressure as it holds excess fluid in the body, which puts an extra load on the heart. Arun Prabhakar depended on eating out for nearly 30 years in his life as an expatriate in many countries. “I have survived on the outside food in South Africa, UK, Sydney and finally in the Gulf. It is difficult for both the expatriates and students studying abroad to survive without them, but the important thing is to make corrective dietary control measures as per our bodily needs at the earliest.” He added, “Junk food should be a strict ‘No’ while for others it is best to know ‘what and which’ suits you the best.”