Instant noodles, ready-to-eat food a big hit during lockdown. But is it healthy?

Prajakta Joshi
Wednesday, 13 May 2020

With restaurants, canteens and mess closed, bachelors living alone, there has been a spike in the demand for instant food.

Pune: "Instant noodles, sandwiches, or just some soup have become our alternatives to a full meal, since the lockdown has begun," said IT professional Shabduli Khokrale who lives in Pune in a rented apartment.

The way people eat is amongst the many things that has been altered during the Coronavirus lockdown. However, with restaurants, canteens and mess closed, bachelors living alone are finding it hard to make time and effort for cooking a sumptuous meal every day and night.

"I work in shifts, and was used to eating most of my meals at my office, or just ordering something online. I am not into cooking as such. But now, with no maids or tiffin services available, I tend to take up shortcuts like cooking instant noodles or just rice, instead of a full healthy meal of chapati-sabji that I otherwise have," Khokrale added.

The spike in the demand for instant food has been noticed by several shopkeepers also.

"Instant noodles, pasta, soups, ready-to-make packets of dhokla, idli, etc., cheese, butter, biscuits, chips, yeast, custard powder, chocolates, cold drinks, fruit squashes, different types of sauces, jam make up for around 50 per cent of the sale at my shop. Are these things worth waiting in queues for?" said a grocer based in Shukrawar Peth.

A grocer in Hingne Khurd also stated that biscuits and instant food packets were amongst the items that got over the fastest after supplies came in.

Senior Executive Clinical Nutritionist at Jehangir Hospital in Pune, Richa Shukla said that a wholesome diet including all the main food groups, like cereal grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables, dairy, poultry, and also nuts and oilseeds is a must.

"The first thing that most youngsters prefer are these packaged and processed foods which have additives, preservatives and are very high sodium or salt content. Prolonged consumption of these packages and processed foods can lead to high blood pressure and heart diseases, and since they are calorigenic, they also tend to make a person overweight or obese and may lead to higher blood sugar levels" Shukla stated.

She added, "One should prefer foods that are easily accessible or available, fresh and seasonal. Different ingredients can be used to cook healthy recipes and restrict the consumption of packaged foods."

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