Sunday, November 18The Voice of London

Are you risking your health by eating out?

When your stomach is growling loudly at the end of a busy day, going to a restaurant or market might seem healthier than the basic fast food menu. But is it really?

Image courtesy of Bimo Luki via Unsplash.

Once upon a time, dining out was considered to be a special occasion or monopolised by rich individuals. Nowadays, so-called “away-from-home” foods are affordable and easily accessible, making it more attractive to enjoy a casual dinner out at a chic restaurant than cook something at home.

But why is our attention drawn to the idea of “eating out”? The choice is understandable – restaurants are much more than just a meal on a plate. The setting and atmosphere of a restaurant often creates a guest’s first impression. Customers are showered with hospitality, entertainment and nourishment as soon as they step inside.

Individuals who come home exhausted after a long day of work usually don’t want to put effort into preparing a meal. The alternative of enjoying a meal outside gives one the option to relax.

Image courtesy of Dan Gold via Unsplash.

While choosing to savour dinner anywhere else but home is more convenient, it is also expensive. The refusal to cook your own meal again and again might dig a large hole into your wallet.

Restaurants and food markets represent an ecosystem that works by a simple cycle dominated by money. Customers are encouraged to buy food, to come back and spend more money on products. Even though the cash we spend on a meal out implies no grocery shopping, no dishes and no prepping, it’s not actually a bargain.

It’s not a secret that the price is not the only advantage that one has when choosing home cooking. Salt, sugar and unhealthy fats are the main adjectives when describing the menu in a restaurant. Both lack of nutrients and high levels of cholesterol usually sabotage your diet and lead you to an unhealthy lifestyle.

Image courtesy of Peter Roberts Jr. via Unsplash.

Even though the meals from restaurants or food markets might seem richer in taste, they are also richer in calories, carbohydrates and fats, like fast food. The taste of the calorie-dense meals tells us that we hit the jackpot, while our stomachs cry for vitamins. Both restaurants and food markets are more interested in satisfying a large number of customers, rather than satisfying a single customer fully.

From greasy fast food to the finest dishes at a gourmet restaurant, every meal should be cooked in the best hygienic standards. Respecting hygienic procedures is fundamental; consumers need protection from harmful germs that could lead to food poisoning, gastroenteritis, dehydration or even kidney failure.

People bear the responsibility of handling and preparing meals when they’re cooking at home, but when eating out, they leave their trust in the hands of kitchen staff.

Good food safety management prevents customers from possible contamination of their meal with microorganisms that can cause serious intoxications. However, not every restaurant or food market respects these standards. Not every chef uses gloves when touching the food, and not all kitchen staff clean the fridge regularly.

Keeping up with hygiene in a food market might be difficult as well. Food stalls, for instance, are not always equipped with a bathroom and cleaning products, which are essential to maintaining appliances. Both food safety and sanitation are often overlooked by the owner of the establishment and kitchen staff.

To conclude, cooking your own meal might be the most unappealing thing to do, as it needs lots of effort. After a long day, all of us long for someone to ask us “Are you ready to order?” while sipping on a glass of wine. However, a home cooked chicken fried rice is more nutritious, higher in vitamins, lower in calories and cheaper comparing it to the restaurant version – not to mention that it is also safer from a hygienic point of view.

 

Words: Ioana Oblu | Subbing: Shruti Tangirala

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