Editor’s Note: Thanks to our friend, Rohit Agarwal, for providing us with some killer tips for staying healthy when gorging yourself in India. Take these tips to heart, cause the last thing you want is indulging on some sweet sweet street food and ending up bed ridden for the rest of your trip. Stay smart, stay happy. Visit his travel site at http://www.transindiatravels.com.
A trip to India is incomplete without trying the delightful street food! Besides, wouldn’t it be hard to ignore the sight of sizzling hot gulab jamuns (honey balls) soaked in sugar syrup or the lip smacking gol gappas (water balls) that send your taste buds in for a heavenly ride? As tempting as that sounds, you’re always caught in a fight between tummy versus yummy!
While on a trip to India, it is usually advised to avoid street food due to health concerns. As it is, your immune systems have a tough time adjusting to the new surroundings altogether, the street vendor (not even approved by the FDA) sends off many alarm bells! Well, relax. It isn’t such a bad situation. You can avoid tummy issues and be able to enjoy the scrumptious food with a little bit of care! Here’s how:
- Go to the popular street vendor, the one that seems to get all the attention. The rule is: Eat where the locals eat. Trying out a new place is probably not a good idea. Follow the herd. Eat from the stall where most families are present.
- Eat only cooked food, since cooking kills most of the bacteria. Try to avoid raw fruits, vegetables, salads, juices etc, since raw stuff is more likely to get you infected with dysentery, typhoid, cholera or diarrhea.
- Peek into the vendor’s stall to see if his food is properly covered, the way he is cleaning his utensils, whether the oil he is using is clean etc. If you find anything fishy, it’s better to skip it.
- Say no to ice cubes and juices. The water used for these preparations is likely to be infected. The hygiene standards at juice stalls are highly variable. Have the vendor prepare fresh juice in front of you and have it served in disposable glasses. Packaged juices are available. Having tea and coffee is a safer choice, since the water is thoroughly boiled. Black coffee is recommended, since milk also may not be up to the standards you’re used to.
- Don’t worry if the vendor throws the fried foodstuff back in the oil. Usually, they keep partially cooked snacks and re-fry to serve them hot. In fact, re-frying will kill all the bacteria and germs.
- Do not accept anything that has been pre-prepared. Usually, the pre- sliced fruits look tempting, but they are laden with germs that are bound to send your stomach into a dizzy! Have the vendor prepare everything fresh in front of you.
- Wash your hands: this is the easiest method to keep infections at bay and a good practice no matter where you are in the world. Always keep a hand sanitizer in your backpack. It comes in handy when no water/dirty water is available.
- Avoid eating uncooked cheese or egg from the roadside vendor. Cheese contains many microbes and uncooked cheese may not do you a favor.
- Follow your instinct: If you feel something “doesn’t taste right”, that’s because it probably doesn’t! Do not consume it.
- Hire a guide or talk to a local resident. They’ll let you know where you can find a clean and yummy treat!
- To avoid travelers’ diarrhea, carry pepto bismol tablets. Probiotics and yogurt can also be consumed. In India, Digene tablets are used to treat indigestion.
- If you experience vomiting or stomach ache, immediately consult a doctor.
Restaurants such as Haldiram’s and Bikanerwala are also present throughout the country that offer high quality street food dishes. These could be your safest bet. Everyone’s immune system adjusts differently to the surroundings. You may have a great time while enjoying the street food and get back home as fit as a horse or you may suffer from travelers’ diarrhea or even worse. It all depends. Nevertheless, you need to exercise precaution while consuming any kind of food, especially street food.
Author Bio: A writer by profession and a foodie at heart, Rohit Agarwal loves trying new kinds of dishes. He frequently writes blogs and articles sharing his experience about the new foodstuff. He has written many blogs about food safety as well.