Thursday, October 21, 2021

Eating out versus Eating in

How many meals per week do you prepare yourself?  How many meals per week do you eat away from your home?

Covid and lock down has turned many into home chefs, fishing out grandma’s recipe books and sharing recipes through videos, the most exotic of dishes look so easy to make. Thanks to you tube, social media, you can cook up anything from scratch. From Lasagna to Ladoos and everything in between. This has indeed become the norm. 

I for one have a tale to tell…

Being the social person I am, and the forever foodies in my family, eating out has always been a favourite thing to do as family bonding. As much as I try to order simple, limit my portions or just ask for an empty plate so I get a taste of each ones order (a very annoying habit), coming home with that stuffed turkey feeling is part and parcel of the eating out deal. So between ordering in and eating out, the tally of four days of pressure on my digestive system for years on end has definitely taken its toll. The heaviness of the food in my belly is something I am used to and the Pudina Hara quick fix helps clear the way for the next day. I am resigned to making my digestive system work overtime ignoring its cries for help. 

I feel it! 

I hear it! 

I smell it in my burps!

I long to free myself from this vicious cycle. 

This pandemic has taught me two very important life or rather I would say health lessons. 

First, building your immunity is a lifelong drill (you just cannot wake up one morning and expect to fight a virus.) 

Second, home cooked food is the only way to healthy living and longevity. 


The kitchen has never been my favourite room in my home, so with the lock down, the decision of eating only home cooked food for as long as the pandemic lasted came into effect. I discovered a new set of skills, following you tube videos, I could cook up anything, from daal tarka to chicken schnitzel to lasagna or even Schwarmas. Once I got into the groove, whipping up simple, yet tasty meals for the family actually kept my brain ticking with ideas of what to make each day or even converting leftovers into scrumptious meals. Cooking personally automatically makes you use good quality ingredients, control the use of excess oil and salt, completely avoiding recycling of oil (its carcinogenic) and most of all, putting a stop to over cooking food thus retaining its nutrients. 

More than anything else the food is light on the stomach and we dropped many a kilo of fat with no diet or portion control.

Losing weight and keeping it off for a year now has made me realize the benefits of eating home cooked meals. A hearty brunch, a teatime snack and an early dinner was all the discipline needed to reach unrealistic, unplanned goals, Just like that!

In the name of Health and Longevity, I ended the tug of war between the boredom of cooking 24X7X365 and the happiness that family outings bring, especially over shared meals. 

Dr. Wei Bao from the University of Iowa explained that eating out regularly was also associated with a number of health problems, increased risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, digestive disorders.

There was also a research (1999-2014), where 35,084 adults of ages twenty plus, reported their dietary habits, eating out two or more meals per day versus eating in almost all meals. After adjusting for factors such as age, sex, BMI, ethnicity, socioeconomic factors. The results were linked to premature deaths due to cardiovascular disease and cancer in adults who regularly ate out. 

As many as 2781 premature deaths were reported.

The take-home message is that frequent consumption of meals prepared away from home may not be a healthy habit and home cooked meals must be encouraged.

Balance is the key, we don’t want to give up the joy of outings to restaurants, trying culinary skills of world class chefs. After all humans are social beings and bonding over food is essential for a happy life.

Keep the balance, keep the choices healthy and keep the cheer!

Life is about that!

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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