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Tips for tourists on how to eat well and stay healthy in India

Edited by: Rekha Rajan
Fact checked by: Jamshed V Rajan


India is a country with rich culture and equally rich cuisine and it has always been on the list of millions of tourists.

People from every corner of the world come to embrace the incredible food culture of India.

From Northern India to Southern India the Indian palate is extremely varied.

If one wants to try all the dishes in India he or she may have to take a couple of years off and stay in India.

But, sometimes it’s not all glorious as it sounds.

Try telling your friends and family that you are heading to India for the first time. They will start showering you with tips on how to avoid getting sick.

Agreed, eating in India can be a bit taxing on a few travelers but the key is to take some basic precautions.

If you are a traveler to India, first time or otherwise, you need to be careful.

Be aware of a few things so that you can get back home hale and hearty.

Do remember that all the precautions can’t save you from Delhi Belly or what is otherwise known as the Traveler’s belly.

But no harm in trying to be safe, right?

Before we proceed any further, let us remind you that any kind of sickness or illness can’t be because of food alone.

The environment also contributes in a person falling sick.

But in this article we will focus only on how to eat healthy and stay out of the hospital in India.

Once you are in India, you would want to enjoy the amazing experiences India has to offer.

Follow these tips for tourists on how to eat well and stay healthy in India.

Tips to stay healthy in India

Eat less to start with

Eat less Indian food and stay healthy
With Indian cuisine being so varied, it is very easy to get tempted and eat more but the trick is in leaving something for the next day. Eat less, and reduce your chances of falling sick. Image: Jauntlust.com

If you are a normal human being, you can’t resist the mouth-watering food in India.

But that’s what you must do. Hold your temptation to avoid sickness.

Eat less in initial days and gain an appetite for Indian food before you start hogging.

Use sanitizer often

Not all parts of India follow good hygiene and cleanliness.

So keep washing or sanitizing your hands often. Disinfect often to avoid getting sick.

Some places that get used often are storehouses of germs. Some examples are the handrails of a bus or a train and door knobs.

Always clean your hands before and after eating food or snacks.

Avoid tap water

Drinking tap water is not always healthy
Rick Steves says most of the tap water in Europe is safe for drinking. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to India. Image: Ricksteves.com

Drinking tap water in India is a big no!

Make sure you always drink purified and bottled mineral water. Unhygienic water will upset your stomach.

While the Indians have built up immunity towards such water, you may not have the stomach for it.

So never drink tap water.

Whenever you buy a water bottle from store, please ensure that the seal is tight and the bottle is fresh.

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Go for packaged food items

You’d for sure want to eat a variety of food, especially street food while visiting the local market.

But do remember, one wrong step can make you ill.

When you start your travel, start by eating packaged Indian food. You can then move to unpacked food.

Always prefer food items that are well packed and fresh.

Since we are talking of packaged food, one of the things you need to pack is probiotic for travelers’ diarrhea to be on the safer side.

To stay healthy in India eat in popular restaurants
Eating in popular restaurants reduces your risk of falling ill drastically. If you are standing in front of a restaurant but don’t know how popular it is, just Google. That should give you an indication of its popularity. Pikoso.kz / Shutterstock.com

We know you love your privacy and personal space.

That is why you prefer not-so-crowded restaurants.

Sometimes, this can be the difference between staying healthy or getting sick.

If you notice that you are the only one eating at a restaurant, you must stop eating right then. Try and identify a popular restaurant.

There are all chances that the restaurant where you eating Indian food alone is being ignored even by the locals.

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Drink bottled water

Avoid Tap Water in India
Indians themselves prefer bottled water. In fact, India is one of the few countries in the World where bottled water sells more than carbonated water. Greenaperture / Shutterstock.com

Always go for bottled water to avoid the risk of contracting germs via the water glass.

When you go out dining, request for a mineral water bottle (yes, that’s how Indians call bottled water).

Check the cap for proper seal before opening it. If doubtful, request a replacement.

If you feel that the bottle’s rim is dirty, use a straw. Before using the straw make sure it is clean and is packed well.

Do not use straws that are left out in the open for days on end.

Think twice before eating street food

Stay safe and healthy in India avoid street food
However tempting it may be, avoid street food in the first week of your holiday in India. After a week, you can start experimenting. Whatever it is, always eat cooked food. Nothing raw. Image: Wearegurgaon.com

India is famous for its delicious street food but they can upset your health as well.

You can enjoy the street food if you use your common sense.

Have a good look at the shop and around it too and you will get a vibe – trust that and move forward if you are still confident.

A few checks can go a long way from making you sick.

Check if the oil they are using is fresh, and make sure the food you are eating is warm.

Never eat cold food because they attract more germs.

Don’t drink fruit juices & other uncooked items

Avoid fruit juices to stay healthy in India
Fruit juices are raw food and if you are not from India, it ends up becoming an adventure activity. Image: Lokendra Nath Roychoudhury

Fruit juices are always considered excellent for health. But they can make you sick too.

While traveling, be careful with drinking fruit juice.

There are high chances that they are using contaminated water for washing the fruits.

We also don’t recommend you eating vegetable salads or fruit salads. They may be raw and not cleaned or cooked well.

Use your hands for eating

Eat with your hand to stay healthy in India
Eating with your hand (which is well washed) is always a safer bet than using the restaurant’s spoon and fork. Most of the Indian food is suitable for eating with the hand so this stay healthy tip is easy to follow. Image: Postcardsfromyonder.com

As I have said it earlier, you must wash your hands very often.

So it’s rather helpful for you to dine with your own hands as it would reduce the risk of falling ill.

It’s a culture in India to eat with right hand and it is so much fun.

Go for vegetarian food

To stay healthy in India eat vegetarian food
Vegetarian food attracts much fewer germs than non-vegetarian food and hence is a much healthier option while traveling in a developing country like India. Image: Vegetariantimes.com

We strongly recommend trying vegetarian food in India.

The chances of meat, chicken and fish catching germs or going bad are high, so why take the risk.

If you are staying for a longer period you can always start off as a vegetarian.

Then, move towards non-vegetarian food as your holiday progresses.

These are professional tips learnt from travelers who had been to India.

Yes, and they did manage to get out without getting sick.

All those who head back home healthy – without any intestinal parasite infection or dysentery or diarrhea follow these tips.

You should too!

After all, prevention is better than cure.

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