Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

Things to consider when eating out

Joy Anyim

Eating at a restaurant or patronising a food vendor is one habit that many cannot avoid, considering their busy schedule, especially in this part of the world, where people work for long hours and get home rather late.

Couples and friends even go out at intervals to eat. In fact, as a way of impressing a date, taking him or her to a restaurant, one known for good food, is always a way to win them over.

While some can afford to eat at luxury restaurants, others, in a bid to save cost, and still not starve, would rather patronise roadside food vendors.

However, whether it is a five-star restaurant or a roadside food vendor, eating out should not be made a lifestyle. This is because food can easily be contaminated at any stage of preparation. Many cases of food poisoning are gotten from eating out.

But when you cook your own meal, you make conscious effort to avoid contamination, the choice of water becomes important, where you buy your ingredients, the quantity to use, how you prepare the meal and much more, are at your liberty.

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So, if you have to eat out, beyond patronising A-list restaurants, some factors need to be considered for your own safety and overall health benefit. You need to take into consideration how hygienic the environment is.

This is because you don’t judge a healthy meal from its taste, look and how it is served, though all that matters. A well-served bowel of seafood in a choice restaurant may be contaminated. So also the possibility of contamination with a plate of rice and stew bought by the roadside.

Before you think of eating out, take note of these:

1. Ask how food is prepared politely. Roasted, grilled, baked, cooked, just ask to know.

2.  Keep it small:  Portion sizes at fast food joints or food vendors are sometimes big. You can eat half a portion and pack the rest to take home.

3. Request for more vegetables, if possible, three times the vegetable serving at the food outlet.

4. Avoid too many combinations. Keep it small, don’t request for too many items at the same time. It may become harmful.

5. Don’t try a new meal that you are not familiar with. Play safe and eat what you are comfortable with.

6. Go for whole-grain: Look for dishes made with grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, oats and others.

7. If you are still hungry after finishing your meals, do fruits as deserts. Don’t be tempted to do extra.

8. Keep sodium in check by choosing food with less sauce. Preferably, ask for your sauce to be served by your food and not on your food. This is so that you can control the quantity you consume.

9. Skip sweet drinks, drink water instead. Low-fat milk can also be taken.

10. Don’t fall for the low carbs frenzy. Many of the low carbs meals are actually high in calories. So, you are running from the carbs, and getting the calories.

11. Especially for roadside food vendors, buy food in your own food flask or takeaway packs, also use your own spoon. This is because you may not determine how the plates and spoons used in serving are washed and cleaned up.

12. For persons who go out to eat on a date, you may also consider to cook and eat at home with your date. You may even cook at home, and take it out to for a date.

13. Above all, it is also more economical to cook at home. You spend less when you cook your own meal. No one can love you more than you love yourself, so you will know how best to cook your own food.

14. You could also do a small investigation by going to where they prepare their food. Visit the toilet too, that will tell you how neat or how important they take personal hygiene.